Truly Coachella Real Wedding


April 6, 2020
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Swanky Fine Art Photography

A tasteful, cutting edge Mars-themed destination wedding takes the place as this Friday’s Couple’s Dish in none other than Coachella Valley, California.

Marvin and Venessa met in 2009 during a photo shoot.
Marvin was going to school at FIDM and studying Fashion Merchandising and Venessa was at CSULB studying Graphic Design. At the time, Marvin was developing a clothing line as part of his final project. “I was invited by a mutual friend to come model some t-shirts for the new line. When Marvin and I met, I was instantly drawn to his creativity. I remember thinking his idea for the clothing line was so cool,” Venessa says. After the shoot, she offered to help him design his editorial spread and lookbook. The two had a lot of fun working on the project together, became really good friends, then started dating the following year. Fast forward ten years and Marvin and Venessa are both creative professionals in their respective fields. “I like to think that whenever Marvin and I work together we make magic,” the bride says. 

There is no denying this real wedding is the ultimate Coachella-esk event. And, although the photos captured by Swanky Fine Art Photography speak for themselves, we thought: “Why not allow the couple themselves to explain the inspiration behind such a hi-fashion, personalized wedding?” Let’s journey to Mars on Earth with Venessa and Marvin for a little Friday fun!

Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: It was important for us to find a place that we felt connected to. The Coachella Valley is a place that we visit every year and have so many memories tied to it. Once we saw our venue, It was really a no brainer.

Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?
A: The distance made it difficult for a handful of guests but most of our people were able to make it. Thankfully we didn’t really get any negative feedback from friends or family. The guests who were not able to attend the wedding day made it a point to attend my bridal shower.

Q: How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them?
A: We visited about 15 different venues before finalizing our decision to go to the desert. Nothing in LA felt like it suited us and our vision. The Coachella Valley is one of our favorite getaways during the year so we knew the area well. As soon as we walked into the property and saw how much space we had to play with, we knew it was the spot for us.

Q: How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?
A: Overall, I’d say the experience was as expected (HARD!). There is for sure more planning involved. Logistics was a huge thing we had to tackle. Especially since we DIY-ed most of our stuff. Transporting the arches and the backdrops that we made was the most difficult. We had to rent the largest UHAUL to get everything there. And when we did get everything there, we had to build everything. We had two days to get everything set up, and we barely made it. We were up until one in the morning the night before the wedding finishing the arches.

Q: Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples? i.e. books, a wedding planner, referrals?
A: Not really. My wedding coordinator, Jordan Dull, was a lot of help. She helped me choose local vendors in the area which made my life so much easier. She chose my caterer and we never got the chance to make the drive up to do a tasting so that was a bit scary but the food turned out great!

Q: Did you include any do-it-yourself projects in your wedding/reception? If so, please describe them.
A: Yes, we made so many things! My husband and I are both creatives so we really went all out on the DIYs.

Wedding Invites/Stationery/Signage – I designed and printed
Save the date – Invitations were subsidized by a wedding video that Marvin filmed and edited himself.
Wedding Arches – I designed these, and Marvin and my brother in law built them.
Mars Rocks – These were made by Marvin and me.

Q: What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
A: Travel logistics for our guests was pretty straight forward. Most people stayed at the same hotel. But, we also had guests get their own AirBnB’s. We didn’t run into any issues here.

Q: How were you able to coordinate with vendors from afar? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
A: Most of our communication was done through email or phone. With a venue like ours, we basically had to build everything from the ground up. On the day of, the biggest problem we faced was figuring out how to distribute power throughout the property (It was a huge property). I had a rockstar production team that was able to make it work. The music sounded like we were at Coachella, which I loved. However, we did have a section of string lights in our tent go out during the party which sucked. Nothing much we could do there. Thankfully, the DJ kept the party going all night so no one cared.

Q: Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
A: Honestly, I feel like we did not save any money. All the money that we saved on the venue was made up with logistic costs and our DIYs. We would have saved money if we skipped out on the DIYs.

Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
A: My advice to new brides is to do what you want to do. It’s YOUR day. Don’t let yourself be influenced by friends or family to do things that don’t align with your values or vision.

Vendors: Photographer: Swanky Fine Art Photography; Wedding Coordinator: Totem Weddings and Events; Ceremony/Reception Site: Santa Rosa Ranch; Florist: Ginger Snap Florals; Cake/Catering: Merchain Catering; Gown Designer: Galia Lahav; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Gucci and Sies Marjan; Videography: Jay and Mack Films; Rentals: Platinum Event Rentals; DJ: DJ Eddie Boy

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