How to Design a Dreamy Desert Wedding

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It’s no mirage! The bohemian desert aesthetic, popularized by outdoor concert festivals like Coachella and Burning Man, has officially made its way to the wedding scene.
“There’s been a big shift over the last few years from standard ballroom weddings to open outdoor venues that are more inclusive of a couple’s personal style,” says Ilana Ashley Rosenberg, CEO and Principal Planner of Ilana Ashley Events in Los Angeles. “The desert is somewhere you go to escape the everyday, and it’s the perfect modern backdrop for hosting a fun event!”
With such a versatile theme, there are plenty of directions couples can take their Southwestern motif. Here are a few ideas to help you create a dazzling desert wedding.

1. Pick a venue with a view
Why decorate a generic venue when Mother Nature provides the perfect background in the form of the actual desert? There are tons of outdoor wedding locales throughout the Southwest, like Joshua Tree National Park in California, a resort in Phoenix, Arizona or even an Adobe house in New Mexico.

2. Paint with natural colors
One direction to take your desert color palette is au-natural with sandy neutrals, sage green and warm amber that all match the landscape itself. If you’re into a more vibrant look, create a fun oasis with pops of bright turquoise, sunny mustards, deep plums or vibrant crimsons. Or, you can even find inspiration in the spectacular desert sunsets with a watercolor-esque palette of dusty rose, blue-grey and light purple.

“Working with the natural palate, tones and texture is key. We do think you can play with earth tones though and adding in a few vibrant hues can be curated just right. It's all about being playful in the desert!” advises Sunna Yassin, wedding planner at Bash Please in California.

3. Choose native flora and fauna
Take inspiration for your wedding floral arrangements from the unique and beautiful plants that thrive in the harsh desert environment. Both cacti and succulents come in a wide range of colors, textures and shapes which make them ideal for everything from boutonnieres to centerpieces. Plus, they won’t wilt like more traditional and delicate blooms.

“A mix of succulents and cactus is the perfect balance to coral orchid and protea bloom arrangements,” adds Rosenberg.

4. Play with patterns and textures
While beautiful, the desert itself is a pretty neutral background, which means you can add layers of detail when it comes to décor. Think terracotta pottery, velvet upholstery, reclaimed wood tables, agate stone placeholders, brightly patterned tapestries and tasseled rugs.

“Pair textured materials, like velvet and linen, with geometric patterns and handmade pottery for a modern-rustic-boho feel,” suggests Rosenburg.

5. Avoid going kitschy
Of course, with any theme, it’s easy to get into tacky territory. “Don't go overboard with a theme,” advises Mollie Jones, wedding planner at Bash Please in California. “If every single decor element has a cactus or palm tree on it, you know you've gone too far!

6. Plate up Southwestern cuisine
Your theme can even extend beyond the décor and into the food and drink. Cactus, for example, is a great vegetarian option to add to the menu while prickly pear is a tasty base for cocktails. You can also take inspiration from Southwestern and Mexican cuisine by offering street corn, ceviche, enchiladas, tamales or tacos. And for desert, consider a decadent tres leches cake or caramel flan.

7. Give away desert favors
Before your guests ride off into the sunset, make sure they take a bit of the desert home with an on-themed favor like a mini succulent or cactus or muslin bags filled with an authentic chili mix.
© CTW Features