Couples planning a wedding in Greater Palm Springs have a vast, scenic canvas against which they can create the wedding of their dreams. From the midcentury modern glam of downtown Palm Springs to the lush sprawling resorts of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells, the nine cities that make up Greater Palm Springs offer nearly limitless access to settings, venues, cuisine and activities. To help narrow down the options, we spoke with several area experts who provided these tips for planning your dream oasis wedding.

1. Understand Your Guest List

Nothing can bust a wedding budget quite as quickly as hosting more wedding guests than planned. And when it comes to weddings in the Oasis, you should always plan for more “yesses” than you anticipated.

“We are a key destination wedding market,” said Claire Pignataro, Director of Sales at the Avalon Hotel Palm Springs, a luxury boutique property located in downtown Palm Springs. Pignataro says she often speaks with couples who think that not everyone will travel the distance to attend their wedding and then are surprised when their guest list is larger than they planned.

“Their guests think this is the perfect chance to visit Palm Springs. It’s their excuse to get away.”

Cathy O’Connell, owner of local wedding planning agency Celebrations of Joy Events, agrees that the number of attendees at destination weddings in Greater Palm Springs is definitely growing.

“It is not uncommon for us to plan weddings that have more than 300 guests,” said O’Connell, who works with couples from as far away as New York, Chicago and even London, England.

2. Don’t Be Limited by the Seasons

Greater Palm Springs has earned a reputation for its toasty summer days, which might be a deterrent for couples planning an outdoor wedding.

“Who says it's too hot for a summer wedding in Palm Springs, said Pamela Olson, Catering Sales Manager at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage. In fact, says Olson, summer can be an excellent time to secure some amazing specials. The Omni, for example, offers a 20 percent discount on all wedding packages held during summer.

For Anne Marie Doyle, Director of Sales and Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, peak months are April and October.

“But we do have lovely winters, and November weddings are a little cooler.” Plus, says Anne Marie, plenty of deals can be found in November and December.

3. Know When the Sun Sets

Our experts all agree that the most important consideration is to know when the sun sets on your wedding day. Greater Palms Springs’ scenic location means there’s no lack of fabulous settings, but the best wedding photos are the ones taken when couples exchange vows as the sun sets.

4. Work with an Expert Planner

With so many locations in Greater Palm Springs, it is can be helpful to work with a wedding planner who is familiar with the area and can match the wedding site to the personality of the couple getting married.

Knowledgeable planners can also help couples stay abreast of local ordinances and conflicting events. For example, says O’Connell, many couples are not aware of outdoor noise ordinances, which prohibit amplified music being played outdoors after 9:30 p.m. in many areas.

Also, says Doyle, the area is home to many internationally renowned festivals like Coachella and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Holding a wedding over festival dates can make it tricky to secure the rooms needed for a destination wedding.

5. Make Your Meals Fun

The Coachella Valley is home to a vast supply of local farms, making it the perfect location for foodies. Area chefs are capitalizing on the local bounty by rolling out dazzling catering menus that offer much more than the rubber chicken that was once a wedding-day staple.

At the Ritz-Carlton, the chef always meets with the couples during their private tastings where they sample several different menu items.

“It’s important for us to ask how we can make this event uniquely special for the bride and groom,” said Doyle.

According to Pigantaro, a growing food trend is serving family-style meals.

“We think this is great because they are a fantastic conversation starter,” said Pignataro. “Not everyone at the table knows each other. Having to ask each other to share platters gets everyone chatting. Plus, it creates a gathering aspect. Everything’s a celebration.”

Celebrations of Joy Events
www.cojevents.com

Avalon Hotel Palm Springs
www.avalonpalmsprings.com/weddings

Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
www.omnihotels.com/hotels/palm-springs-rancho-las-palmas/weddings/venues

The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/RanchoMirage/Events/Weddings

For more information on planning your wedding, go to visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/weddings.