Elise and James’ festive and colorful Frida Kahlo-inspired wedding at The O’Donnell House embodied everything the couple loves and everything that brought them together—art, music, poetry, the desert, laughter, our family and friends. With the help of planner The Events Department, the couple created their big day through a “Frida filter” focusing on whimsical flower arrangements and installations by Magnolia Flower Shoppe, embracing pops of vibrant color in the bridal party and venue, and “planning their wedding as if it were the greatest art project of their lives.” We are LOVING the pure joy of the couple (and of course all the bold details) as captured beautifully by Grey Collective member Kathleen Geiberger Art.
What made the wedding special and unique?
Our festive and colorful Frida Kahlo-inspired wedding embodied everything James and I love and everything that brought us together: art, music, poetry, the desert, laughter, our family and friends. James and I elected Frida as our theme when we decided that we wanted our wedding to be the opposite of reserved and demure; we yearned for a celebration rife with creativity, passion and a life-as-art perspective—everything we believe Frida Kahlo personifies. Creating our wedding through our Frida filter allowed us to throw caution (and, at times, tradition) to the wind and focus on the details that were truly important to us like having whimsical flower arrangements throughout our venue, embracing pops of vibrant color, and planning our wedding as if it were the greatest art project of our lives.
Another aspect of our wedding that made it so unique is our venue, The O’Donnell House—a historic Spanish-style estate perched on the cliff-side of Palm Spring’s San Jacinto Mountain with a view of the entire Coachella Valley. It provided the perfect canvas for our Frida Kahlo-inspired wedding with its bright, fuchsia bougainvillea flowers blooming all around and iconic desert cacti dotting the landscape. At night, after the sun set, the valley lights twinkled below making our festive affair all the more intimate.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
My gown is by Catherine Deane for BHLDN. Before I’d ever even imagined being engaged I dreamed of one day wearing a BHLDN dress. It was a three piece gown: a skirt, a sweetheart corset top and a cap sleeve, lace topper. It went so perfectly with our theme and our venue. Crazily enough, I found my dress three weeks before the wedding. Luckily the wonderful staff at BHLDN had the dress rush shipped and my seamstress worked hard to have it all finished in time. I picked up my finished dress three days before the wedding. Nothing like a little excitement to start off the special weekend!
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
Our officiant, Sven, is James’ and my mutual best friend since freshman year of high school. Never once in high school did we imagine that James and I would end up married one day. Sven crafted the most sentimental ceremony by keeping the focus solely on James, me and the story of how our relationship came to be. He told funny and sweet stories of us and secretly interviewed our parents so he could share their perspectives on our relationship. This allowed our audience to learn more about us and, ultimately from the feedback we received, feel more connected to us.
My cousin Mackenzie has the most incredible voice and she sang and played the piano for our ceremony. Then at the reception, she invited all of our guests onto the dance floor to dance to her rendition of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose”. Afterwards our DJ segued into a fun song that kept everyone dancing.
We named all of our tables after our favorite musicians, poets and painters. We had a Frida Kahlo table, of course, along with a Rumi table, an Edith Piaf table, a Georgia O’Keeffe table, etc. We had paintings of quotes around the reception area like Frida Kahlo’s famous “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic” and Pablo Neruda’s “I long to do to you what spring does to the cherry trees”. Our hashtag was “When two brows become one”, paying homage to Frida’s iconic unibrow.
For dinner we had a taco bar with all the fixings and a margarita station with a pineapple jalapeno margarita, pomegranate margarita and a traditional. For dessert we served churros, Spanish style crema cantalana (crème brulee) and a simple but delicious (and amazingly affordable!) two-tiered cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Our guests demolished the food and that’s exactly what we wanted to happen!
What was the most memorable part of the day?
I can’t pick just one, sorry!! Having my mom help me button my dress, fasten my jewelry, kiss my check and send me on my way down the aisle. Then walking arm in arm with my dad to my cousin Mackenzie playing the piano and singing her rendition of George Ezra’s “Blame It On Me”, while seeing all of my most favorite people in the audience and up front under the most beautiful floral altar. Our ceremony space was narrower than most, meaning our bridal party had to squeeze close together which made it so intimate—not only did I see my groom gazing back at me, I saw all of my very best friends gazing back at me, too.
Then, standing at the altar alongside James, listening to his incredibly heartfelt vows; saying “YES!” instead of “I Do” when asked if I take James as my husband (a meaningful accident and one that worked better with my vows, anyway); and, accidentally kissing James when I first got up to the altar—oops!! Sacrilege!
Having a matron of honor, Katie, a maid of honor, Torrie, and the most amazing tribe of bridesmaids: Krista, Mackenzie, Kristin, Amanda, and Britney stand by my side throughout the day and throughout the entire year of wedding planning. Also, being so in love with all of James’ groomsmen! Some are my best friends, some are part of my family. I love them all so much and it truly means the world to me they were part of our day.
Photographer: Kathleen Geiberger Art // Event Planner: The Events Department // Floral Designer: Magnolia Flower Shoppe // Invitation Designer: PaperPlum // Reception Venue: The O’Donnell House at The Willows // Dress Designer: Catherine Deane // Shoes: Badgley Mischka // Apparel: Kenneth Cole // Jewelry: Lauren Wolf of Esqueleto // Bakery: Nothing Bundt Cakes // Apparel: Show Me Your Mumu // Caterer: Westwood Catering // Equipment Rentals: Signature Party Rentals // Video: Amari Productions