A Desert-Themed Wedding in Palm Springs

michael thomas wedding grooms holding hands outdoors
Jenn Emerling

When West Hollywood couple Michael Joyce and Thomas Krottinger met as actors on the same show in 2010, their castmates didn't recognize how serious they were. "Everyone thought we were just going to be what is called a 'showmance,'" says Thomas, who now works in music publishing. "Eight years later we are married and have a golden retriever named Olive, so I think we avoided that label!"

Whenever they discussed getting married, Thomas would remind Michael, a programming executive, that he needed to be the one to pop the question ("I'm the emotional one between us," says Thomas, "and was worried I would be in my feelings one night and propose off the cuff."). Michael delivered with a surprise proposal at Point Reyes Seashore. "I had framed it like we were just going to do a casual walk while we waited for the hotel room to be ready, but I was not chill," says Michael. "I essentially started booking it down the beach, and Thomas got annoyed." Once they found a tourist-free spot and Michael dropped onto one knee, Thomas realized what was happening and tearfully accepted an engagement band (which later became his wedding ring).

For their wedding on February 17, 2018, they chose to celebrate with 99 guests at the Avalon Hotel in Palm Springs, a scenic destination that the couple visits often. "We have always loved vacationing in the desert," says Thomas. "It's just such a magical and beautiful place that we wanted to share it with all of our closest friends and family." With the help of their planners at Hello Gem, they created a "dusty desert chic" vibe that drew inspiration from the property's natural surroundings and their actual relationship. "Everything about the wedding felt very suited to us," says Thomas. "It was intimate and personal."

01 of 19

Minimalist Stationery

michael thomas wedding invitation stationary suite
Jenn Emerling

The couple's colorful engagement selfie save-the-date set the tone for a lively evening, while the crisp black-on-white invitations—a Vera Wang design the couple ordered from Paperless Post—were minimalist and chic. White wax seals with the couple's monogram added an understated custom accent.

02 of 19

Getting Ready

michael thomas wedding couple getting ready tying ties
Jenn Emerling

The couple stayed in a bungalow on the Avalon Hotel property, where they got ready together—and even helped with each other's ties—before the ceremony. "We wanted to spend the day together and not miss a moment," say the duo.

03 of 19

True Blue

michael thomas wedding grooms
Jenn Emerling

Thomas and Michael wanted big-day looks that coordinated but weren't identical—"We are not the couple that matches," says Thomas—so they both chose dark blue ensembles, but in different fabrics. Michael bought his midnight blue velvet Richard James jacket, Hugo Boss pants, and Alexander McQueen bow tie from Mr. Porter, while Thomas rented his pindot print jacket and classic pants from The Black Tux. "I wanted to wear one item that I didn't have to return after the wedding so I splurged and bought an amazing Tom Ford bow tie," says Thomas. "I'm so happy that I have that piece as a little token of such a special evening."

04 of 19

The Women in White

michael thomas wedding party
Jenn Emerling

Michael and Thomas wanted their bridal party to include their sisters and their closest friends—a list that ended up including only women. "When we were deciding who we wanted to stand by our side on this special day, it was obvious that we were going to have an all-female wedding party," says the couple. They let each woman pick her own favorite dress from a selection of BHLDN designs with different silhouettes, lengths, and fabrics. "We had them wear different shades of ivory since there was no bride. It was our way of signifying that they were a special part of the ceremony and their love and support was just as integral to our relationship over the years as anything else."

05 of 19

Shades Down

michael thomas wedding best woman sunglasses
Jenn Emerling

Thomas, Michael, and each groomswoman wore a pair of personalized sunglasses.

06 of 19

An Outdoor Ceremony

michael thomas wedding ceremony
Jenn Emerling

The couple chose the Regency Courtyard for their ceremony location, using two massive palm trees and a view of the mountains as a focal point. As an acoustic version of Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" played, each groom walked down the aisle with his parents. The ceremony included a selection from the majority opinion in the Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, read by Thomas's sister, Jennifer. "That reading really spoke to why marriage equality is so important to us as a gay couple, and helped communicate how seriously we took our vows," the couple says.

07 of 19

He Said, He Said

michael thomas wedding ceremony glass
Jenn Emerling

Michael and Thomas wrote their own vows, and the end result was a sign of just how in tune they are as a couple. "We didn't share our vows with each other before the ceremony, and it turned out we said almost identical things!" says Thomas. "Michael's vows blew me away. He continually amazes me and hearing his vows was a concrete reminder of why I love him so much and why he's the most incredible partner." The vows were one of the most emotional parts of the night for everyone, says Michael: "When Thomas went to read his, he had to inform everyone that what he was about to say wasn't intentionally the same. It made everyone laugh and cry at the same time."

08 of 19

Rings Around

michael thomas wedding ceremony glass
Jenn Emerling

The men asked Michael's childhood friend, Lauren, to officiate. She had the couple answer a variety of questions that she ultimately used to create the ceremony. "It wasn't a religious ceremony, so she was able to shape it into something very unique and personal," they say. The men incorporated Michael's Jewish heritage by adding in the traditional stomping of a glass at the end of the ceremony, and added their own "ring blessing." "Lauren passed around our wedding rings in a bag and asked everyone in attendance to say a little blessing or prayer for the two of us whenever the rings came to them. We wanted our friends and family to be a part of the ceremony and this passing of the rings was our way to include everyone in this special moment."

09 of 19

The Happy Couple

michael thomas wedding grooms couple recessional
Jenn Emerling

At the end of the ceremony, the elated grooms walked back down the aisle as newlyweds to the full version of their processional song, "The Edge of Glory." "This song became the main theme of our wedding and ended up being played four times!" says the couple.

10 of 19

Time to Celebrate

michael thomas wedding guests pool
Jenn Emerling

At the poolside cocktail hour that followed the ceremony, small bites included bacon-wrapped dates, grilled cheese with tomato bisque, and fried chicken sandwiches—plus signature drinks for each groom; Thomas chose a margarita, while Michael picked a watermelon smash. "We wanted the vibe to be celebratory and fun," the couple says. "This was a really special hour as everyone was still buzzing from the ceremony, the sun was setting behind the mountains, and the whole wedding party finally got to mix and greet all the guests."

11 of 19

Recipes for Happiness

michael thomas wedding grooms holding hands outdoors black and white
Jenn Emerling

Instead of a traditional blank book or printed wedding guest book, Thomas and Michael decided to use a cookbook; they chose "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters, a manual they'd been eager to add to their collection. "Now whenever we go to cook a new recipe at home, we find new notes and well-wishes from all our favorite people," says the couple. "It keeps the magic of the wedding sprinkled throughout our everyday lives."

12 of 19

In the Garden

michael thomas wedding reception tables
Jenn Emerling

For dinner and dancing, Thomas and Michael chose the Presidio Courtyard. Overhead string lights created a warm glow after dark, while long tables, family-style dinner service, and low centerpieces created a conversational, social atmosphere in the intimate space. "No matter where you sat at the reception, you felt like you were a part of the action and had a great view of the speeches and the dance floor," says the couple. The lush green grass of the courtyard tied into the floral arrangements from Hello Gem and accented the bold linens. "Our favorite part of the entire setup was the beautiful mustard yellow velvet tablecloths that Hello Gem managed to find," says the couple. "They were gorgeous and helped set the tone for the entire reception. The mix of the yellow velvet and the green succulents was eye-popping from the moment our guests walked into the reception area!"

13 of 19

Simple Centerpieces

michael thomas wedding centerpiece table number tablescape
Jenn Emerling

In addition to the bouquets, Hello Gem designed the centerpieces and tablescapes, arranging white flowers, dark green foliage, and succulents with mismatched votive candles, clay and ceramic pots, and pillar candles in elegant square hurricanes. Table numbers took their style cues from the invitations and were dressed up with the same monogrammed seal.

14 of 19

Sit and Eat

michael thomas wedding menu place setting tablescape
Jenn Emerling

White china, polished flatware, and neutral napkins let the bold velvet tablecloths take center stage. A large seating chart directed guests to their tables, while personalized tags on each menu indicated their assigned seats. The on-site caterer provided chicken breast with lemon-thyme jus and braised short rib with caramelized onion demi-glace, with sides like sweet potato puree, glazed carrots, and sautéed vegetables. "They were super accommodating and the food was so delicious," says Michael. "They even created a macaroni and cheese recipe for Thomas since it's his favorite!"

15 of 19

Song and Dance

michael thomas wedding couple first dance
Jenn Emerling

For their first dance, Thomas and Michael chose Adele's "One and Only," a nod to one of the first concerts they attended as a couple. "We somehow managed to sit in the front row at this tiny little venue in Santa Monica the week her album 21 came out," the couple says. "We have always loved that song. It was a real no-brainer for the two of us to have our first dance to it for so many reasons."

16 of 19

The Sweet Spot

michael thomas wedding cake display
Jenn Emerling

After dinner, the couple served a three-tiered lemon cake with pomegranate filling and vanilla buttercream icing from Over the Rainbow Desserts, decorated with live succulents. "To this day we still get compliments as to how delicious our cake was," the couple says. "Man, do we miss it!"

17 of 19

Desert Desserts

michael thomas wedding cupcakes
Jenn Emerling

Thomas and Michael also wanted to serve a chocolate dessert, so Over the Rainbow provided them with a garden of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache icing—each with a fondant succulent in dazzling shades of blue, purple, and green. "They really leaned into the whole 'dusty desert chic' vibe," says the couple.

18 of 19

Play It Again

michael thomas wedding vinyl records
Jenn Emerling

Michael and Thomas stacked their requests for Dart Collective with "pure pop," including Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and Madonna. "We made sure they were songs that were undeniable bangers," says Michael. "There was not one song in the reception that was a dud. We really wanted it to feel like a concert, and wanted everyone, including the non-dancers, to dance and let loose." They chose "Crazy in Love" for their last dance, but the DJ had one last surprise: A final spin of "The Edge of Glory," bookending the evening with the song Thomas and Michael used for their processional. "Everyone at the wedding knew it was a special song," the couple says. "All of the wedding guests erupted in screams of joy and rushed to the dance floor for one final, cathartic celebration of such an incredible evening."

19 of 19


michael thomas wedding grooms holding hands outdoors black and white
Jenn Emerling

Photography, Jenn Emerling Weddings

Location and Catering, Avalon Hotel and Bungalows

Event planning and Flowers, Hello Gem

Stationery, Paperless Post

Cake, Over the Rainbow Desserts

Music, DART Collective

Rentals and Lighting, Signature Party Rentals

Tuxedos, The Black Tux; Hugo Boss; Mr. Porter; Richard James

Hair and Makeup, Jen Plus Colour

Bridesmaids' dresses, BHLDN

Grooms' bow ties, Alexander McQueen; Tom Ford

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