Thinking about planning a Palm Springs wedding? There aren’t many places on earth with the kind of magic Palm Springs brings. The soft desert sun casting a glow on the chocolate mountains (hello dreamy wedding photos at golden hour). Breezy palm trees. 350+ days of sunshine a year. The vast number of picturesque venues with character and charm, everything from mid-century modern architecture to Spanish inspired villas. It really is a dream wedding destination.
We got married in Palm Springs last fall and planned our wedding in less than a year. I knew I wanted to be involved in the planning, so we opted to choose a “month-of” wedding planner package. This allowed me to really get to know the wedding vendors and rules and restrictions in the area. I’ve compiled a list of tips and things to look out for when planning a Palm Springs wedding.
For a full guide on my favorite vendors, venues, and tips and tricks, I have a resource guide with all the goods available soon. Keep an eye out!
Where to Start when Planning a Palm Springs Wedding
Choosing the time of year to get married in Palm Springs
The right month for you will depend on the type of wedding you want to have. The most popular months for weddings in Palm Springs are March, April, May, October, and November.
It is important to think about holidays and popular events happening in Palm Springs. This can influence availability, pricing, conflicts and minimum stays/spends. The most popular wedding months in Palm Springs coincide with the busiest times of the year in the area with the best weather. Snowbirds from cooler climates flock here, and these months host some of the biggest events of the year, including Coachella Music Festival and Stagecoach Music Festival that monopolize three weekends in April/early May.
In my opinion, the best months to host a Palm Springs wedding are end of March, the first few weeks in May or October-Mid November.
This usually allows you to avoid the crowds of Spring Break, BNP Paribas tennis, and festivals and increases your chances of nice warm weather.
Note that October is a popular month for golf courses to overseed, so some venues may be closed or have dead yellow grass as they prepare for the season. Make sure you inquire about this if you choose October if your venue is an estate or golf course.
May is beautiful but can be windy! And in recent years the cooler weather has been arriving in the desert early, so earlier in November the better if you opt for later in the year.
For a full list of Palm Springs events by month, I wrote a post about the best time to visit Palm Springs. This will give you an idea of what events happen annually in the area so you know if your wedding weekend will overlap with any major events.
Choosing a Wedding Venue
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when it comes to planning a Palm Springs wedding is booking the venue. You’ll want to consider where in the Greater Palm Springs area you want to host it, the type of venue you prefer (hotel, golf course, private estate, an event space, restaurant etc), the capacity of the venue based on your guest list, and availability.
I recommend choosing from Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage (15 minutes from Downtown Palm Springs), Palm Desert (20 minutes from Downtown Palm Springs) and La Quinta (30-40 minutes from Downtown Palm Springs).
You will find more hotel venues in the Downtown Palm Springs area. The further out you go (aka La Quinta) the more private estates you will find.
I wrote an entire post on the best wedding venues in Palm Springs here.
Things to Keep in Mind When Booking a Palm Springs Wedding Venue
Most of the Downtown Palm Springs wedding venues have a curfew of 10 pm as per city bylaws. If you know your group likes to party, have a contingency plan to move the party indoors or elsewhere after 10 pm. Estates outside of Downtown Palm Springs tend to be more lenient on curfew, especially if it is a secluded estate.
Palm Springs has a wide range of venues available, from intimate bed and breakfasts that limit 50 guests, to massive venues that host over 300 people.
Rules on Alcohol and vendors
Some venues in Palm Springs restrict you from hiring your own bartenders and stocking the bar, something that can save you a ton of money. Others have a preferred list of caterers or rental vendors that you must choose from, which can limit your options.
Think about venue location
Is it walking distance to things like the supermarket and coffee shops for your guests? Some estates are very secluded. This is great to avoid noise complaints, but makes it tricky for guests to access things throughout the weekend.
Reception and ceremony
Does the venue host both or will you need to switch locations? Restrictions?
Extra charges from venue
Make sure you know of all the extra charges that you could incur before signing the contract. Things like pool heating, lights, damage deposits and how they will go about charging you. I go over this in detail in my Palm Springs Wedding Resource available soon.
Consider style to match the venue/destination
If you have a vision for decor and theme for your wedding, make sure that fits well with the vibe of the venue. You wouldn’t want to have a lot of flashy out there decor in a very minimalistic midcentury venue.
Make a weekend out of it
Chances are if you are planning a Palm Springs wedding, it will likely be a destination wedding for most guests. Palm Springs is the perfect place to spend a weekend. I’d suggest hosting a fun meet and greet or rehearsal dinner on Friday evening, host the wedding Saturday, and then follow it up with a Sunday pool party, round of golf or brunch.
We hosted a happy hour on Friday and it was perfect because it gave everyone a chance to meet, and allowed them to go for dinner at the restaurant of their choice afterward. An early event also prevents anyone from partying a little too hard the night before the wedding. More tips including venues for rehearsal dinners and planning ideas for Friday and Sunday are outlined in my wedding resource.
Book vendors early, but do your research
It can be tempting once you have your venue to book as many vendors as possible right away. Take your time unless you have found the vendor of your dreams. Palm Springs is an insanely popular destination for weddings, which brings a plethora of vendors from all over Southern California.
Don’t limit your search to Palm Springs only. There are some amazing food, rental and floral companies in San Diego, LA, and SoCal counties. Their fees are usually minimal to Palm Springs as they travel there often.
Reach out to multiple vendors
Don’t be afraid to email multiple vendors. Websites only show you a small window into service offerings. I can’t tell you how many contact page forms I filled out for caterers, rental companies, florists and make-up artists. Starting a dialogue will allow you to narrow down your list of vendors you are interested in, something your planner can help you with as well.
Hire wedding planners
Even if you want to be very hands-on and involved in the wedding planning process. Interview at least 3 wedding planners. Chat with them over the phone or on zoom and have a few questions ready. They are going to be such an important part of your day. You really want to make sure you vibe well with them and create a rapport.
I think I interviewed 5 wedding planners before choosing Sugarplum and Co. I pretty much knew right away that they were the planners to go with because the conversation was effortless and they shared a similar vision.
My top wedding planner choices in Palm Springs would be Sugarplum and Co and Details Darling. Both have great visions and will allow you to be as involved or as removed from the planning process as you’d like. If you are wanting to do more of the planning and hire a planner for the month of (you’ll start connecting 3 months out), I would go with Sugar Plum as they had the best package option for this type of service.
I have a list of others I interviewed as well if you’d like a few more recommendations. The only thing I will say is, definitely book one! You can’t do it alone, especially on your wedding day. This is what they do for a living and their contribution and involvement in your day will be essential.
Give your budget at least a 5% cushion
When planning our Palm Springs wedding, we knew we wanted it to be a weekend affair. That meant it was undoubtedly going to be more expensive than a single day event. We definitely went way over budget, but we had to keep in mind that our final price included things like accommodations and vendors for the Friday and Sunday activities.
Weddings in-general are expensive. I had no idea going into it how much things like floral arrangements, string lights or adding a late-night snack would cost. It all adds up, so keep that in mind, even if you aren’t adding additional events.
Keep your out of town guests informed
There will be a lot of questions that come your way in the months leading up to your wedding. Give them as much information as possible. I’d recommend creating a PDF info packet or a wedding website to send out to guests. Things to include: airlines, flight recommendations (when to book, dates to select), information on other wedding festivities, dress code etc. There is a full list outlined in my wedding resource.
For now, download my free email template to send to guests regarding travel info to Palm Springs! This is a simple word document with a script to send to guests. Feel free to pretty it up, but in my experience for important information you want guests to really read, keep it simple! Keep an eye out for my Ultimate Palm Springs Wedding Resource, available soon!