“We just want our wedding to be one big party.” Isn’t that a given? Still, no matter how festive the couple, a wedding, by nature, has its tender moments. But a party — now that’s another animal altogether. In a fairly expansive valley that is easy to navigate (just hop on Highway 111 and keep going), you’re never far from a fabulous locale at which to host an unforgettable get-together.
To be sure, once the word gets out that you’re tying the knot in Palm Springs, don’t expect too many declines. Most guests will scurry to book their rooms and begin making plans for a full-blown desert vacation built around your happy day. (Good idea.) That’s one reason so many brides and grooms opt to offer, in addition to the main event, a few scheduled shindigs. Your pre-parties and after-parties make grand opportunities to introduce your guests to another part of town — and bare another side of your personalities. Plus, more opportunities to visit with one another means more memories for everyone to take home. So consider leaving your wedding theme by the wayside for some of the time, and plan a few sideline events that are landmark celebrations in themselves. The following insider suggestions should get you well on your way.
Kick off the evening at a local happy hour, and take advantage of the nightly specials. If you have single friends in your party, consider Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Palm Desert; Palm Springs Life magazine readers recently voted it as the area’s Best Singles Bar. The newest place for young adults is the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, where partygoers are welcomed with loud music and rock memorabilia from the moment they enter the lobby bar all the way to the DJ dance club. Also located off the lively downtown strip is the Spa Resort Casino, offering up live entertainment each night in the lounge. Hotel-bar hoppers will appreciate the pours at Viceroy Palm Springs, Parker Palm Springs, Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa, Ace Hotel & Swim Club, and The Saguaro — each serving up its own blend of cocktail culture.
GOLF AND SPA DAY
Shed the last vestiges of planning stress, and head “down valley” for a day of golfing, spa-ing, and dining like kings and queens. It’s easy to keep the party together when these classic resorts offer both championship golf and pre-wedding pampering. La Quinta Resort & Club, Miramonte Resort & Spa, Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, and Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa are just a few venues that specialize in giving groups the royal treatment.
REHEARSAL DINNER OR WELCOME COCKTAIL RECEPTION
Private parties are never a problem in the Coachella Valley. Expect excellent service and distinctive cuts at any one of the numerous steakhouses the area has to offer — there’s not a bad choice among them. Time-tested favorites include Chop House and LG’s Prime Steakhouse, both in Palm Springs, and Ruth’s Chris in Palm Desert, along with newcomer Mastro’s Steakhouse on El Paseo in Palm Desert.
Customize a menu for up to 120 guests on the mountainview patio at Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar in Palm Desert. Or, go easy on your budget with inclusive pasta meals in a surprisingly elegant dining room with supper club style at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage. If formal is more your style, reserve a private dining room at Wally’s Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage, known for its contemporary California cuisine, or impress your loved ones with your sophistication in the Wine Room at bluEmber, also in Rancho Mirage.
For small groups, Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs offers a cozy ambiance by the piano or in a private room tucked into the mountainside. Twinkling tree lights make the patio a gorgeous spot year-round, and it’s equally charming for Sunday brunch. Which leads us to …
Sure, it might be nice to stay in bed on the morning after your wedding. But that’s what the honeymoon is for. After a dab of eye cream and a double shot of espresso (or green tea soy latte, if you please), you’ll be set for a sweet send-off brunch with everyone you love. They may never all be in the same place again, so embrace the moment with a catered al fresco affair on the Mediterranean Lawn at Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells or fireside in the Piazza. In Palm Springs, Trio features a mod, Uptown Design District vibe and bottomless mimosas, while Norma’s serves French-press coffee and gourmet smoothies on the patio at Parker Palm Springs. For brunch overlooking the golf course with panoramic mountain views, try Escena Lounge & Grill in Palm Springs.