A chance encounter at doggie daycare leads to a Palm Springs wedding full of unconventional flair
For Kristin and Matt MacDonald, looking back on their first meeting is a bit like watching a romantic comedy. Matt brought in his tiny cockapoo puppy to Kristin’s doggie daycare, where she introduced her basset hound. Matt continued to show up, with his visits growing more frequent, until he finally gave up the ruse of needing assistance with his pooch and asked her out. He proposed after roughly eight months using a photo booth to surprise her with a ring.
“We love to take pictures in photo booths whenever we come across them,” says Kristin with a smile. “This one particular day, we found one and went inside to take pictures. When we were done, Matt bent down and pulled a strip off the ground. I thought it was just a set someone had forgotten, but when I looked at them it was a series of photos of him holding signs that spelled out ‘Will you marry me?’ ”
Both from Southern California, the two chose the town of Palm Springs for the site of their nuptials for two reasons.
“It was the first place we ever traveled as a couple together,” recalls Kristin. “We also really liked the feel of the place and the look. It’s earthy with the mountains in the background, but there’s this gorgeous desert landscape. It’s also got a quirky and fun vibe; it’s young and kind of modern.”
The destination allowed for friends and family to get away for a weekend without the expense and trouble of a longer trip. To keep the group together, the couple chose the Movie Colony Hotel as a base and as the site for the reception. The hotel’s small size meant that they had the whole property at their disposal for an entire weekend.
“We set a date eight months from the engagement,” says Kristin. “It didn’t allow for a whole lot of extra time in the planning. I knew immediately there were a few things I definitely wanted.”
The main floral visual the bride had in mind for her outdoor wedding was based on naturally occurring plants, specifically succulents like Echeveria and jade plants, as well as plants in the color yellow. She and Matt began looking at wedding websites and bridal blogs to gather ideas, hitting upon a decision to gather different containers of all shapes and sizes and begin planting succulents for the wedding décor. They purchased several containers from Ikea and spray-painted them, gathering others from thrift stores. It was during this time that Kristin and Matt began to understand that they needed some professional guidance.
“We hired a florist who was a friend of my mother’s,” Kristin continues. “When I met with her, I began to get really excited. She had tons of ideas for ways to make it playful and bring in color. She also suggested using air plants in a number of the arrangements. They added a great texture.”
With the container collecting left up to the couple, florist Billie Diaz-O’Brien of The Flowery in Villa Park set about designing the planters, bouquet, and boutonnière.
“I used a lot of 2-inch and 4-inch sized plants for the boutonnière and the bouquet,” recalls Diaz-O’Brien. “I left some draping over the edge, and some very simple—really symmetrical. I like air plants because they hold up really well in situations where it’s very hot. I think the overall effect is different and clean.”
Tillandsia, dahlias, and green succulents went into her bouquet, and his boutonnière was a mixture of craspedia, Tillandsia, and succulents. On the big day, 50 containers—ranging from diminutive bud vases to giant planters—were arranged on site.
“We also used a lot of mums in the centerpieces,” continues Diaz-O’Brien. “White and yellow spider mums, yellow button mums, white and yellow football mums. We don’t use those a lot in weddings, but I feel like they are making a comeback.”
“Her groupings—just the way she put things together—were so beautiful,” recalls Kristin. “I handed her this mish-mash of stuff, and it came out so stunning.”
The chairs were decorated with pomander balls of yellow button mums, and the tables got a scattered mix of vintage milk-glass vases and both recycled and new ceramic white ones, filled with assorted succulents and Tillandsia. The flowers were entirely yellow and what both bride and florist wanted. “It’s what I might call a fun, relaxed, geometrical, eclectic-yet-organized look,” explains Diaz-O’Brien.
The wedding ceremony, held at a private home, had whimsical touches like the dogs acting as escorts down the aisle for the mothers of the bride and groom, and more poignant touches like a personalized planting ceremony. The couple took a moment to pot a jade plant together, and today, that plant, along with the others, now lives at their home as a souvenir of the day. Following the ceremony, guests moved back to the hotel for the reception, which featured simple food that fit with the outdoor desert ambiance.
“We had a taco bar, spiked Arnold Palmers, and instead of cake, I made these cake pops. Looking back, it’s the one thing I would change. I spent way too much time worrying about making the cake pops,” Kristin says with a laugh. “Other than that, I really think everything came out exactly as we wanted it. Looking at our photos, we feel like we made it really personal and love that we can now look into our garden and have those special reminders that our love is not the only thing growing each day.”