A Retro-Modern Yellow-and-Blue California Wedding

Bride and Groom

Jose Villa

Since its heyday in the 1940s and '50s as a haven for privacy-seeking Hollywood stars, California's resort-dotted Coachella Valley has symbolized escape. But for Washington, D.C., residents Tali and Michael, hosting their wedding in Rancho Mirage wasn't a retreat but a return. "My grandparents have spent part of the year in nearby Palm Springs for 30 years; I've gone there on vacation all my life," Michael says.

Family has been important to the couple from the start. In 2010, Tali, the founder of a gift and hospitality box company called Welcome and Wishes, and Michael, who works in real estate development, were set up by their two younger sisters, college buddies who discovered that their older siblings lived within 10 blocks of each other. "Neither of us had been on a blind date before, so it was lucky we both agreed to it," Tali says. Much to the sisters' delight, the two hit it off immediately, and by October 2013 they were engaged.

Tali and Michael's connections to both people and place informed nearly every detail of the wedding weekend, from the citrus-filled escort-card display (a nod to the fruit Michael's grandparents grow and often ship to the couple) to the Coachella music festival–themed after-party, complete with flower crowns and "Cohenchella" wristbands, which recalled the concerts the two had attended. Tali's family rabbi flew in from Cleveland to officiate the Jewish ceremony before 250 loves ones, on November 16, 2014, and the couple exchanged vows under a chuppah sewn by Tali's grandmother and embroidered with the names of her cousins who had wed beneath it.

Cocktails were served poolside at The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage to the strains of a Frank Sinatra tribute singer before everyone moved to the ballroom for a California twist on a kosher feast, including a choice of loup de mer or salmon, and agnolotti with truffled sage butter. Music and dancing followed, and when the Cohenchella after-party kicked off, in front of a backdrop of the festival's iconic Ferris wheel, it was like coming, well, full circle. "The best part was being in a place so special to my grandparents, and to us," says Michael. A place that now has one more amazing memory.

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The Stationery

Jose Villa

"We wanted a nontraditional look that said, 'This is going to be fun!'" says Tali of the illustrated suite by Swiss Cottage Designs, which used both offset and letterpress printing.

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Welcome Goodies

couple eating cake
Jose Villa

The first project for Tali's company, Welcome and Wishes, was creating the gift bags stocked with snacks, beach totes, and maps of the couple's favorite local haunts.

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The Fashions

Jose Villa

Before the ceremony, the bride, in Monique Lhuillier, and groom, in J.Mueser, took a photo in his grandparents' backyard, flanked by bridesmaids in long navy gowns.

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The Jewelry

Jose Villa

To complement her rose gold pavé Marissa Perry diamond engagement ring and diamond bands by Alexia Leigh and Adam Keshishian Jewelers, Tali borrowed a pair of Boone & Sons diamond drop earrings from Mike's mother for the big day.

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A White Bouquet

Jose Villa

Tali carried an all-white bouquet by Mindy Rice, made of peonies, ranunculus, freesia, and maidenhair fern. Tucked inside: a keepsake swatch from Michael's grandmother's own wedding veil, which she'd parceled out to all of her grandchildren and their brides.

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Beautiful Boutonnieres

Jose Villa

The groomsmen picked their boutonnieres of ranunculus and freesia buds from a display of navy nametags, hand-calligraphed by Handink Calligraphy in white ink.

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A Monogrammed Aisle

Unkempt Willow Branch Wedding Arch with Pink and Orange Flowers
Jose Villa

The lacquered aisle was personalized with stencils based on the monogram created for the invitations.

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The Flowergirls

Jose Villa

The bride's nieces, dolled up in Crewcuts dresses, carried peony­-and-­fern bouquets down the aisle.

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A Citrus-Filled Seating Display

Jose Villa

A bumper crop of lemons in a Plexiglas case framed the display of seating assignments.

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Mid-Century Lounging

Jose Villa

Yellow was the primary color for Tali and Michael's cocktail reception, a continuation of the citrus motif from the couple's sunny escort-card display. Here, a retro-style lounge area for guests to relax in.

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The Reception

Jose Villa

White lacquered tables held centerpieces that included tulips, hydrangeas, and maidenhair ferns.

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A Graphic Reception Table

Jose Villa

A geometric­-patterned runner, pierced porcelain lanterns, and gold flatware set a retro­modern tablescape.

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Love Birds

Jose Villa

Life-sized porcelain parrots and glimmering gold starburst napkin holders played up the reception's distinctive, Dorothy Draper-inspired vibe.

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The Cake

Jose Villa

Tali and Michael's strawberry-shortcake-flavored layers, decorated with a modern, geometric trellis motif by Charm City Cakes, took the event's sleek style to the next level.

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The First Dance

Jose Villa

With Ray LaMontagne's "You Are the Best Thing" as their accompaniment, Tali and Michael tentatively made their way through their first dance as a married couple. "We took lessons beforehand, but we both have two left feet," Tali says. "I was really excited when we finished it—I felt like I could finally breathe and have fun."

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Jose Villa

Location, The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Event planning and design, Shannon Leahy Events
Catering, Savore Catering
Flowers and event design, Mindy Rice Design
Photography, Jose Villa
Videography, Blue Kite Cinema
Stationery, Swiss Cottage Designs
Calligraphy, Hardink Calligraphy
Cake, Charm City Cakes West
Ceremony strings and horns, and reception band, West Coast Music
Cocktail-hour music, Luca Ellis Duo
After-party music, Mike Goldfarb aka DJ Sherpa
Rentals, Blueprint Studios; Classic Party Rentals; Rrivre Works; Yeah Rentals
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Bride's engagement ring, Marisa Perry
Bride's shoes, Jimmy Choo
Hair, Pauline Kardemark
Makeup, Thierry Pourtoy of Palette on the Go
Flower-girl dresses, J.Crew
Groom's suit, shirt, and tie, and other menswear (suits and ties), Doyle and Mueser
Groom's shoes, Edward Green
Groom's watch, IWC Schaffhausen
Lighting, Images by Lighting
Transportation, Cardiff Limousine & Transportation
Custom Fabrications, Revelry Event Designers
Photo booth, Tomfoolery
Rehearsal dinner and welcome party design, Ed Libby & Company
Sound, Design Sound
Stylist, Maradee Wahl
Welcome boxes, Welcome and Wishes

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