A Much-Belated Palm Springs WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Michael Segal Photography
All engaged couples look forward to the day they’ll say “I do,” but for Steven and Michael, the anticipation leading up to their wedding was years in the making. When the time came to pick the “where,” the two grooms didn’t hesitate: Palm Springs, California. “We wanted to give people a reason to come to someplace that they normally wouldn’t go,” says the couple. “We also wanted to give them plenty to do outside of the wedding and reception celebrations by combatting the ‘six hours and you’re done’ syndrome of typical weddings. We allowed people an experience and a vacation, as well as a damn good party together.”
Not surprisingly, the couple’s loved ones immediately jumped on board for a destination wedding in Palm Springs. “Our guests were thrilled for us – we were finally able to get married after almost 20 years together,” recall the newlyweds. “As a same-sex couple, we had a domestic partnership for almost 15 years, but have only recently been able to legally marry in California. We were able to honor our love, our families and friends and, most importantly, our fathers who had both recently passed away.”
Michael and Steven apparently had their fingers on the pulse of Palm Springs by picking one of the busiest weekends in the city’s history to get married. “The Parker Palm Springs is a destination unto itself and we chose what turned out to be the busiest weekend in the history of Palm Springs: President’s Day weekend, Valentine’s Day weekend, Modernism Week, a major bike race event, a few scattered gay events and a visit by President Obama himself. When the hotel turned out to be available, we took it as a sign and jumped on it. It was about as perfect a location as anyone could ask for.”
When Michael and Steven look back on the overall process of planning their dream wedding, they have an honest and heartfelt reaction. “Amazing, stressful, exciting, stomach churning – but in the end, so worth it! There are two things we tell people when it comes to planning a wedding: 1. Don’t even think about trying it without a wedding planner and 2. Make sure you have a great photographer. I recently told someone about our photographer, Michael Segal, and said, ‘You should set your wedding date around his schedule.’ Yes, he’s that good!
“Regarding our wedding planner, we chose Cathy and Dorry with COJ Events because the weddings on their website were very individual and distinctive. A lot of wedding planners seem to have a ‘look’ that permeates all of their weddings. We wanted to make sure ours was distinctive. They were there for us every step of the way. As producers, we both have definite ideas and they helped us figure out which ideas made sense and gave us ideas we had never thought of.”
The couple put extensive thought into every aspect of their wedding – including their wedding website. “We used WIX to create it. We wanted a comprehensive resource that people could go to with details of the weekend, things to do, places to eat, great shopping, etc. Also, rather than gifts, we used the website to set up links to two charitable organizations (American Youth Symphony and the Point Foundation) that we support, encouraging guests to make contributions if they felt they wanted to recognize our wedding. We very much liked the idea of a charitable organization benefitting from our wedding and the two of them very much did!”
The couple made the most of their wedding weekend by hosting a family/welcome dinner, a cocktail party the night before the wedding and a brunch the day after the wedding. “We expected to spend more [on a destination wedding] given that we were hosting a wedding weekend, but it was well worth the effort and expense.” Having a multi-day event also served other welcome purposes like allowing their family and friends the time to really get to know each other and for the couple to show off their recently acquired Palm Springs vacation home.
After years of waiting to make their love official, it’s safe to say that Michael and Steven pulled off a weekend of events that was well worth the wait for everyone involved! The couple has some final words of advice for other couples planning a wedding away. “Participate in the day! Don’t let your best man or maid of honor host and handle things. We pretty much hosted the entire weekend – most importantly, we hosted the wedding and the reception. People enjoyed our participation in the wedding, but it really made the weekend memorable for us. The day is still very much ingrained in our minds and souls. One last thing…couples should really think about planning a wedding and a reception that reflects who they are as individuals and as a couple. The more personal it is, the more memorable it will be for you and your guests.”
Vendors: Photographer: Michael Segal Photography, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Parker Palm Springs, Wedding Planner: COJ Events, Florist: Maggie Jensen, Stationery: Swiss Cottage Designs, Catering: The Parker Palm Springs, Grooms’ Clothing Designer: Paul Smith, Entertainment: Thomas Lauderdale with Pink Martini and cabaret artist Meow, Meow!, DJ: Tony Liebetrau with Red Show, Lighting: The Lighter Side
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