California Desert Wedding - Featured

California Desert Wedding at Rimrock Ranch


May 31, 2024
Words by Logan Rogers
Photos courtesy of Mary Costa Photography

After matching on a dating site, texting nonstop, and meeting only a few days later, Kristen and TJ knew there was something special between them, a spark of true love. Being from opposite sides of the country they wanted to celebrate their love in a place they both knew and appreciated on their own: Pioneertown in the California desert

A beautiful desert wedding ceremony setup behind a Joshua Tree with a stunning mountain backdrop, groom poses in red velvet suit, bride sits in lacy dress on red couch

“We hadn’t been there together before, but we both knew what a special place it was, and wanted our family and friends to experience the same magic.”

Kristen and TJ approached their venue search looking for a place that would hold all their guests comfortably. Once they stumbled upon Rimrock Ranch, they knew they had to get married there. The beautiful thirty-six-acre high desert ranch is situated in Southern California’s San Bernardino Valley, right outside Joshua Tree National Park, and only a short drive from both Los Angeles and Palm Springs giving guests an easy travel experience and a view they would never forget. 

A wedding collage featuring a dog and a record, jewelry, and the couple's first look

The couple made sure to implement aspects of their roots on their special day. 

“Since TJ is from Georgia, we served Southern BBQ for dinner; and because I’m Palestinian-American, our wedding “aisle” were Middle Eastern rugs, we played Arabic music, and our rings were held in a wooden box I got abroad.”

bride, groom and wedding party surrounded by unique desert flora and fauna

Keeping with the desert theme, they also wanted to incorporate native vegetation like dry flowers and succulents, accompanied by an array of fresh flowers to match the warm tones of the sunset and the bridesmaids’ dresses. 

Kristen and TJ wanted their California desert ceremony to be personable and representative of them as people, individually and together. They included many of their friends and family, as well as their two dogs to make their experience one-of-a-kind. The couple didn’t care about certain conventional wedding traditions and wanted to make it their own. They had their siblings switch positions on either side of the altar and their dogs walk down the aisle.

Rustic wedding ceremony at a Joshua Tree, surrounded by cacti and mountains in the distance.

“Since TJ and his friends are musicians, we asked three of them to sing modern songs throughout the ceremony that represent our relationship”, the bride says. “Instead of asking one friend to marry us, we had two CMOs (Chief Marriage Officers) who represented TJ and me individually.” 

The couple was lucky enough to get their on-location planning down with only two trips– one cross-country road trip and then again with their planners, Sugarplum & Co. The Rimrock staff communicated with the couple often and kept up-to-date to make sure Kristen and TJ had the California desert wedding they always dreamed of. 

Kristen and TJ pose with their rings, walk down the aisle and kiss at the end desert colored wedding table decor

“They’re great communicators, highly organized and professional, and genuinely cared about the success of our special weekend,” says Kristen. 

Contemplating a destination wedding meant the couple would have to keep the guest list minimal in comparison to hosting the wedding locally. But, Kristen and TJ knew this experience was unique in itself and one they couldn’t possibly pass up. Having the intimate ceremony made the whole weekend special and memorable for years to come. 

desert themed reception decor, table settings and "find your seat" sign

Kristen’s advice for those preparing to celebrate their special day is to find vendors who are familiar with and have previous experience at your venue, as well as reach out to couples who have already used your venue. 

She also says to celebrate “tiny wins” in the planning process with your partner, as things can get hectic quickly. And when times are hectic, it’s important to take a step back and see all those who came out to celebrate you on your day. 

couple kiss under A frame altar, framed by Joshua trees and potted cactus

Her last piece of advice holds true and is something to always remember: “Everyone will have an opinion – forget the noise, and think about how you and your partner want to feel on your special day! How do you want to remember YOUR wedding?”

aerial photos of the wedding reception and the couple's first dance just before sunset

Vendors: Photographer: Mary Costa Photography; Wedding Planner: Sugarplum & Co.; Venue: Rimrock Ranch; Florist: Pinyon Pine; Stationery: Sara Gerstel; Cookies: Milk Jar Cookies; Hair: Girl Meets Bongga; Makeup: Nancy Zinzun; Gown Designer: Willowby Watters; Men’s Attire: Indochino; DJ: Eli Freshmode; Bus: Photo Booth by Kelly; Bar: Mint Bartending; Dinner: CV BBQ; Videographer: Spiritmade Visuals

photo collage of couple around Rimrock Ranch, bridal bouquet, reception toasts

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