Design-minded couple Joanna + Michael poured their creative hearts and souls into every element of their Palm Springs wedding’s look and feel—from first dance choreography to musical arrangements to invitations to tablescapes to a GORGEOUS floral wedding gown designed and DIY-ed by the bride.
These high-school-sweethearts-turned-newlyweds based their wedding vision on three words that spoke to the essence of who they are as a couple: funky, colorful, and untraditional. And Palm Springs’ Sands Hotel & Spa, with its vibrant, retro energy, was the perfect spot to bring their design dreams to life!
With the help of coordinator Thomas Lewis, Joanna + Michael filled their wedding weekend with color and excitement in ways that felt undeniably them. There was a dog in a tuxedo. There were disco balls. And photographer Lauren Scotti captured the day’s totally delightful vibes in these amazing photos!
You better believe Joanna + Michael dreamed up this colorful invitation suite themselves!
We’re obsessed with the dangling disco ball details!
The Tea Ceremony
“In the afternoon before the wedding,” bride Joanna says, “we held a Chinese tea ceremony, which is a Chinese wedding tradition where the bride and groom serve tea to our elders (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) and in exchange are offered gifts and wise words for our marriage.”
Joanna + Michael found tons of ways to break a bit with tradition and make the tea ceremony their own. For example, Joanna wore a white qipao as opposed to a traditional red one.
Instead of Chinese tea, the couple went with Moroccan mint tea because they felt like it better fit the vibe of their Palm Springs venue.
LOVE including the traditional Chinese bridal color red with these SHOES 😍 Check out this similar pair from Dolce Vita!
The Big Day
Yep. This masterpiece of a bridal mini dress with an epic train was created by Joanna herself. When she first started looking at wedding gowns, she fell head over heels for a designer dress. Only problem? It was CRAZY expensive. She knew that with the help of her couturier friend Sara she could use that dress as inspiration and make something that would be even more meaningful from scratch.
“I always wanted a dress that defied tradition, brimming with color and funk,” says Joanna. “Michael and I both love flowers, so my goal was to incorporate flowers with meaning into the design of my dress. I incorporated California poppies, with one close to my heart, which is Michael’s favorite. Irises and dahlias paid homage to Michael’s grandmothers, cherry blossoms symbolized my new sisters (Michael’s two sisters), shadow flowers honored my new mom (Michael’s mom), and olive leaves for our Olive Grove ceremony at The Sands Hotel. With no bridesmaids by my side, it was important for me to have these significant women represented on my dress as I walked down the aisle.”
Joanna’s simple, elegant low bun with fave framing wavy pieces and her soft glam makeup look were created by Sydney Felix.
The construction and embroidery took Joanna about a year. Check out our round up of stunning embroidered floral wedding dresses if you’re as in love with Joanna’s bridal look as we are.
A Cheeky First Look
So sorry—we still can’t get over this TRAIN.
Joanna’s bold and funky bridal bouquet and Michael’s boutonnière were the work of Going Steady Studios, along with the rest of the day’s color-filled florals.
Michael’s emerald velvet tux was a custom creation from Knot Standard.
This is Rex!! And he got his very own green velvet tux to match Michael’s!!
Take a peek at our creative ways to include your dog in your wedding day if you have a furry friend who absolutely cannot miss your “I do’s.”
SO into Joanna’s white pointed peep toe ankle-strap heels from Amina Muaddi.
There are no rules. Okay, maybe there are some rules. But your wedding can be anything you want it to be. Question tradition and don’t be afraid to do things differently. Think of your wedding like a play, and you two are the directors. We all know how this play begins and ends, but how will you make the set and story uniquely yours?
Plan with love. Love for each other, and for your guests. It will be hard at times – you’ll be compromising, managing finances, and navigating family dynamics, all in a very condensed timeline. Have empathy for one another, and know it will take teamwork to be successful. And, aim to show your guests how much you love them by over impressing them. We found our guests did notice the small details, but it only mattered because they could see the thought and care we put into making sure they had a great experience.
Capture the memories, in every way possible. They’re worth it. After our wedding, we couldn’t stop scrolling through the photos and videos to relive every moment. Spending on a photographer you love is worth the money. We didn’t have the budget for a full videographer, but we hired someone to help capture iPhone video of speeches and candid moments which we’re so grateful for. We also had disposable cameras for some film shots, which is another budget friendly way to capture more wonderful moments.
Music is super important to Joanna + Michael, so of course they approached the wedding’s tunes with tons of creativity and care. Michael arranged and recorded the ceremony music—which he’d played himself on the piano—and then their talented pal Ethan (wearing an amazing teal floral suit from Freeborn, we might add) accompanied them live on guitar.
We had so many beautiful moments that it’s hard to pick just one, but we were surprised by how much fun we had at our ceremony. Walking into the Olive Grove at sunset alongside our parents, listening to our friend Ethan playing electric guitar to some of our favorite songs, and seeing all our loved ones fitted in vibrant spring colors for the first time was magical. Our celebrant Michelle made us feel so comfortable and loved. The support and emotions emanated from our guests, and took away all our nerves as we read our vows. When we walked out of the ceremony, the first thing Joanna said was “That was so much fun!”
We can’t get enough of these color-blocked bridal party bouquets! Such a fun way to highlight different dress colors!
Processional: “Higher” by D'Angelo + “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin [both piano/guitar covers by the groom]
Recessional: “Best of My Love” by The Emotions
First Dance: “Yes I Do / Dream Lover” by L.A.B & Mariah Carey [Custom mix by the groom!]
Poolside Palm Springs perfection. And those tiny disco balls are such a fun and funky detail!
We’re really into the way this green velvet table runner adds so much texture to the reception table linens.
Joanna + Michael asked their guests to stick to a “Palm Springs Formal” dress code of vibrant spring colors, and they ABSOLUTELY rose to the occasion. Check out our list of wedding guest dresses for spring you’ll totally wear again if you’re hoping to crush the wedding guest outfit game like these ladies did.
This sparkly gold mini dress reception look is spectacular!! The feathery sleeves! And—you guessed it—Joanna designed this one, too!
Total disco dreams
This neon wedding cake by Over the Rainbow Desserts was such a colorful way to end the night!
Congratulations, Joanna + Michael! All your hard work on this funky, non-traditional Palm Springs wedding TOTALLY paid off! All the best from GWS!
photography: Lauren Scotti // venue name: Sands Hotel & Spa, Indian Wells, California, USA // event design: Bride & Groom // planning: Day of coordinator: Thomas Lewis // florals: Going Steady Studios // wedding dress: Made by bride! // wedding suit: The Knot Standard // bride's shoes: Amina Muaddi // bride's ring: Joel Rosenberg // hair stylist: Sydney Felix // makeup artist: Sydney Felix // groom's ring: Ruth Tomlinson // groomsmen attire: The Knot Standard // videography: Elijah Hernandez // paper goods: Designed by bride & groom! // calligraphy: Designed by bride & groom! // catering: The Sands Hotel and Spa // cake: Over the Rainbow // music: Groom & Dart Collective // officiant: Michelle Woo // photo booth: Aspen Shoots LLC