Greater Palm Springs is a popular wedding destination for the LGBT community for many reasons. Aside from offering breathtaking locations and the lure of nearly year round sunshine, the area is known for its gay friendly culture.

Palm Springs in particular consists of a large LGBT population, and was the site of Equality California’s large-scale wedding reception during the 2004 Pride weekend, serving up cake and entertainment to over 200 couples.

lgbt wedding in palm springs

Interfaith Minister Cathy O’Connell and her partner, Dorry, chose the desert for their home in 2000. Since then, O’Connell regularly helps plan, as well as officiates, over 40 weddings a year in the Coachella Valley. Through her company Celebrations of Joy, she’s helped coordinate a variety of weddings for gay and lesbian couples from the discreet and low key to outrageously over-the-top. 

“To give you an idea of the potential of this area, we did an event for two amazing men,” Cathy describes. “Starting with a travel themed welcome party at a private complex, guests were met at the pool by flight attendant attired greeters with passports to the next days' activities.  Food stations represented countries the couple had traveled to together. The DJ was dressed as a pilot and in the pool was a floating Cirque du Soleil-type acrobat in a four-foot bubble.

lgbt wedding in palm springs

The next day guests were picked up by bus at the Colony Palms Hotel and driven to Twin Palms, the Sinatra Estate, where Marilyn Monroe and Sinatra look-a-likes boarded to serenade the guests, Cathy continues. Finally, they arrived at The Living Desert for cocktails at the giraffe enclosure. As the sun started setting over the mountains, guests formed a circle on benches for the wedding. After the ceremony guests were shuttled back to the tiki torch-lit Steve Chase patio where a jazz harpist greeted them for dinner. Then they were whisked back to Colony Palms for an after-party in a private villa!”

Other fabulous ceremonies have included candlelit nuptials in the Riviera Palm Springs' Wexler Garden, a Chinese garden ceremony for two on the Sunset Terrace at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, and a Mexican themed wedding at the Hideaway Golf Club. 

Cathy’s advice for couples who want to say “I do” in the desert? She encourages them to start planning early because top venues such as Parker Palm Springs, Avalon Palm Springs, La Quinta Resort & Club and Miramonte Resort & Spa sometimes fill up a year in advance.

She also advocates for unusual venues such as the Palm Springs Art Museum or the glorious outdoors for couples looking for something more creative. The possibilities for wedded bliss are simply endless in an environment so equivalent to paradise.

For more information on planning your Greater Palm Springs wedding, go to

Photos courtesy of Michael Segal Photography