Mango N' GuavaWords by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of Daniel Milnor
A wedding in Palm Springs inspired by a Bali loving bride
Ironic, isn’t it – how some find love?
Lisa Bostwick and Scott Brusseau found it because of their mutual love of koi fish – and strangely enough – in Japan, koi are symbols of love and friendship.
Lisa and Scott were together for five years before getting married. Their wedding was a collaboration of great love, consideration for friends and family and a deep appreciation for the little details in life.
The couple selected Palm Springs as their ideal place to tie the knot. "So many of our close friends live far away and yet our family is in Southern California. We decided on a place that would allow family to drive and our friends to have easy access to an airport." Lisa says.
"I use to produce a woman’s clothing catalog and Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs was a place we would continually go back to for photo shoots. While shooting there I met Korakia’s then hotel manager, Melissa Chiaro. She is now the owner of Essence of Palm Springs and because of my previous business encounters with her, I knew she was the perfect choice to help with the coordination of our wedding weekend. She’s organized, creative and just really fun to be with. Korakia has brought wonderful people into my life and some of the best. The most magical of all…it’s where Scott proposed to me." It also turned out to be a perfect place to hold their reception and house many of their guests.
Lisa admitted they chose a destination wedding because they longed for more time with their loved ones. "No matter if you have a traditional wedding or destination wedding, it is almost as much work but over in 5 hours. To have your favorite and most beloved people gathered together… how tragic it would be to be over so quickly."
And what a weekend they had! Lisa explains, "Thursday evening began with a meet-and-greet poolside with music from our talented jazz musician friends from Baja and decadent food from a friend in Utah." Lisa and Scott arranged discounted golf and tennis, spa treatments as well as a "Palm Springs Night" on Friday night with a fabulous Frank Sinatra impersonator to entertain their guests. Korakia was also a place that friends and family "just sat around the pool and enjoyed each other’s company."
When W-Day arrived, Lisa‘s sister did something very special for her. "My sister Judy had asked all the women to gather for a morning blessing ceremony to honor me. There, as all of my best friends gathered in a circle around me, Judy read a blessing while my mother, sister-in-law's and niece washed my feet, brushed my hair and massaged my arms. Judy gave each person a bead and one by one, each friend and family member came up to me giving me the bead and a well wish. I have never in my life experienced such a profound outpouring of love, just for me! To have my favorite woman surrounding me, telling me how much they love ME! What a transcending way to begin your day! My sister presented me with the necklace she made with all the blessed beads just before the wedding. That necklace now goes with me everywhere and I feel as though I always have ‘my girls’ with me".
Lisa and Scott had planned something very personal and intimate for the 100 guests who made the trip. She reminisces, "Just before the ceremony was to begin 2 buses pulled up in front of Korakia and whisked everyone off to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway." They traveled 8500 feet to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains to a pre-selected location. "We went from a warm and sultry 90 degrees on the desert floor to a crisp 62 degrees in the mountains. A circle of pinecones was placed in the mountain setting for everyone to stand around. In our invitations, we had requested our guests to dress in ‘Desert White’." Lisa had a moment of inspiration prior to the wedding, hence the reason for the circle and white garments worn by guests. "I had a dream one night that Scott and I were together, encircled in white light and our grand parents were there with us. I thought it would be amazing to recreate that feeling."
"A moment I will never forget was my son walking me out to Scott. I felt comforted to have him with me and at complete peace when we approached the ‘Circle of Love’, as we came to call it. It was so calming to know all the work was done and Scott & I were relaxed and ready to take it all in. We acknowledged my son in the ceremony and presented him with a ring as well. My eyes were just flooding, but I had the biggest smile on my face." Lisa and Scott had asked a dear friend of theirs, Henry Lopez - A Native American Indian - to do a blessing for them. "Using a huge eagle feather, Henry preformed a cleansing and smudging ceremony and recited a moving prayer leaving everyone in awe. We are so blessed to have really talented musicians in our lives too. They graced with their music all weekend and my brother wrote and sang- from atop the boulder one of the most moving wedding songs we’ve ever heard. There was not a dry eye."
"Our Reverend, Elena Chvany helped to create a powerful ceremony. She has such a lovely presence and equally lovely ideas for our ceremony all-the-while giving us great peace of mind. She involved the whole wedding party to support our marriage through life. In particular… she had our entire group say the proclamation, ‘WE PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND & WIFE’. To hear that from all of our family and friends had a profound impact on us and the group, as we are all a part of this union now".
Once the ceremony was complete, the group traveled back down to Korakia to celebrate. Everyone was greeted to the seductive sounds of "Naked Rhythm", decadent guava martinis and divine food. "After we came down the mountain and made a quick wardrobe change, Scott and I made a grand entrance. We just kissed everyone and jumped in with the crowd. The band started drumming and we formed a huge conga line where everyone was then led to the tent. Jaws dropped as they took in all the color, decor and low Moroccan/Balinese style table. It was as though they had just arrived at this tropical oasis and fell into a movie set! This event would not have had the eye-popping reaction if not for 2 men that pulled off my creative design ideas. Brent & Mike from "BAM" slaved for four days preparing and dressing the tents. While the wedding party went up the mountain, Brent & Mike went into high gear and dressed the 135’ U shaped table. Ironically enough I had met these two while floating in the pool at Korakia 4 years earlier! We hit it off immediately. They told me they were just recovering and relaxing from dressing Oprah’s 50th"! Enough said!"
Their wedding coordinator, Melissa Chiaro remembers the event vividly. "A primary detail threaded throughout the schematic was the Koi fish, in remembrance of how the couple met. The explosion of mango and guava against the desert palette, along with the infusion of Bali was felt within every detail." And Lisa loved getting caught up in the details, "T- shirts were embroidered with our Koi fish logo for everyone who attended and live fish were on the tables, swimming in giant wine goblets. The mango & guava colored koi logo shined on the white dance floor and the Koi design was embroidered onto the mango colored napkins. Even the top of the cake was adorned with two glass-blown koi fish. As the evening progressed, everyone enjoyed dinner and dancing and toasts and just laying around on the cushions. Even Henry continued with blessings and smudgings for people at the reception. With eyes wide open they experienced it all, it was so great to see."
After talking to Lisa, it would appear a very remarkable part of their event was most definitely the groom. "My amazing husband is one of the most kind and spirited men I’ve ever met. His life is all about giving and helping others. He supported the crazy ideas along the way and even brought in his own creativity. He definitely wanted everyone to have as good a time as we did. Scott was very much a part of the planning of what we wore, our vows, coming up with Frank Sinatra, getting the food right and coordinating the kinds of drinks our guests like, and even helping with the hand made invitations!"
According to Melissa Chiaro, "Palm Springs offers a natural canvas of romanticism and modernism that would take extensive time and money to recreate. A three day wedding weekend indulging in dips and drinks poolside, afternoons lounging, shopping, the spa &/or golf, and walks under the stars all add to an unforgettable destination event."
And advice for other destination brides? Lisa says, "Be creative, be organized, hire well and then let it all go. Know that some things will go wrong… and that is just part of it. Don’t stress… relish it all and have the time of your life."
Design & Coordination
Men's and Dress Designer
Music & Entertainment
Sherri Desert Cities Catering
Pure Light Blessing Ceremonies
Frank Sinatra Impersonator
Related Articles & Advice
by Jennifer Stein
Just north of Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay is the exquisite Grand Velas.
by Courtney Kellar
Our traveling editors pick their must-have items!
by John Roark
The Caribbean offers a palette of tropical options for all tastes.
by Carolyn Gerin
New York: as many times as I’ve been there, adrenaline hits my bloodstream like a double espresso: discovery, innovation and possibilities await.
by Courtney Kellar
There are a few things in life which most people love unconditionally: good food, family and golf.
Get the latest wedding trends & ideas by email