This Desert-Themed Wedding in Palm Springs Featured a Sunset-Inspired Color Palette
Lexie Larcher and Carter Smith met as high school freshman in 2007. "We were absolutely inseparable in high school and dated all four years," says Lexie. "Our senior classes even voted us prom king and queen." After high school, they took their relationship long distance as Lexie studied fashion at Texas Christian University and Carter moved to Boston College to major in finance. "After some time apart, we eventually realized that we were meant to be together," says Lexie. "Our relationship developed over 12 years into a lifetime love."
But even after more than a decade together, Carter still pulled off a surprise proposal for Lexie while she and her mother were in Paris. The manager of their hotel offered to show them a suite designed by Karl Lagerfeld, and when Lexie stepped inside, she found Carter with an engagement ring (and a photographer). "It was truly one of the happiest, most romantic, amazing moments of my life," she says. "It is a memory that I will cherish forever!"
Lexie and Carter chose The Parker Palm Springs for their 250-guest wedding on October 19, 2019. "It was the first venue we looked at and it might as well have been the last," says Lexie. "The Parker transports you to another world." They chose a different part of the property for each of their events, which included a welcome party, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, after-party, and next-day brunch. "We utilized the hotel to its full potential," says Lexie. "The beauty of having some movement throughout the evening was that there was an element of surprise at every turn."
Thoughtful details included décor inspired by Lexie's love of traveling; natural accents of wood, pampas grass, bamboo, and rattan; and a gospel choir at the ceremony and cocktail hour. "Our goal was to create an evening that felt intimate, filled with love, and just so much fun," says Lexie. "Once everything came together it absolutely exceeded my expectations. It was just spectacular."
The couple had two goals in mind for their invitation suite. "Carter and I wanted something a little unique that would be fun to open, and we definitely wanted it to get everyone excited for a weekend spent in sunny Palm Springs," says Lexie. The couple chose handmade cotton paper with taupe embossed text, linen wraps, and white tassel ties from Lotus and Ash. A custom monogram appeared on the envelope and throughout the day-of paper goods. "The invitations felt organic and reflective of what was to come," says Lexie. "We utilized the same materials from the save-the-dates all the way through to the menus."
Their monogram also appeared on the fruit tucked into guests' welcome boxes.
After trying on nearly 30 wedding dresses, Lexie chose a lace V-neck sheath from Rita Vinieris. "It had butterfly sleeves and I think that was what sold me on it," says Lexie. "I felt like me in it!" Coincidentally, the designer herself walked into the boutique for a trunk show just in time to see Lexie modeling the gown for her mother. "She told me she really only gets to see models in her dresses—rarely does she see 'real brides,' especially in the moment when the mom is crying," says Lexie. "She was so thrilled and explained her inspiration for the dress to me. She chose the veil that she designed to go with it, and it all came together beautifully."
Lexie had a more difficult time narrowing down her footwear choice. "I came to the wedding weekend with four shoe options, because naturally I couldn't decide which shoes I should wear until about five minutes before I had to be in my wedding dress—wouldn't recommend!!!" says Lexie. She decided on lace Jimmy Choo heels for her first look and portraits, and traded them for Dior sling-backs before walking down the aisle. "The one and only smart thing I did in my absurd shoe situation was have one of my wedding planners put a pair of block-heeled Gianvito Rossi sandals under my chair at dinner to I could slyly change into them after all of the first dances."
The bride's naturally-shaped bouquet from The Lavender Rose incorporated "happy pops of yellow" along with creamy white blooms. "A big banksia protea was the main element, and was complemented with butterfly ranunculus, bleached ferns, frayed tulips, and more deliciousness," says Lexie. "It was my dream bridal bouquet."
Bridesmaids in Pink
Lexie encouraged her bridesmaids to shop for individual gowns that fit their own personal style. "My bridesmaids are all beyond gorgeous and I knew they would look good in anything! They chose dresses that made them each look and feel amazing," says Lexie. Carter's groomsmen wore tan suits and linen ties from The Black Tux. "I am not a big fan of dark suits or tuxes for groomsmen—it's so serious," says the bride. "It kept the wedding party looking light and not stuffy."
Together at Last
For Lexie and Carter, their first look was full of emotion. "Carter and I had been looking forward to our wedding day since we were teenagers and when it came time for [us to see each other] before saying 'I do' in front of our friends and family, we were both so overcome with emotion," says Lexie. "He's crying, I'm crying, but we were also laughing, just saying, 'I can't believe we are finally living this moment. Let's soak this up!'"
For their outdoor ceremony, Lexie and Carter installed a wooden aisle lined by overflowing floral arrangements. "The inspiration for the color story was the desert sunset," says Lexie. "This meant tans, ivory, beiges, and golden soft hues of orange and yellow."
Ceremony programs tied with silk ribbons were placed on each chair, while custom wooden fans read "Lexie and Carter Fan Club." "The ceremony lawn was walled in with tall green bushes and olive trees, which made the space feel super intimate," says Lexie. "It was beautiful."
Sip and Sit
As guests entered the ceremony space, they took glasses of lemonade or water from the hotel's "beverage bicycle." "The ladies could also grab little heel covers so their shoes wouldn't get stuck in the grass," says Lexie. "Never a detail too small!"
Lexie's two younger cousins, Lillie and Poppy, served as flower girls and wore embellished tulle Tutu du Monde dresses with crowns of dried baby's breath; they tossed petals from handwoven straw baskets from Etsy. "The two of them couldn't have been more excited, and were the life of the party along with their cousins Addie and Emma," says Lexie.
Saying "I Do"
The bride and groom asked Carter's family priest, Father Phil Carlson, to officiate their ceremony. "He officiated Carter's parents wedding 33 years ago, and has been in the Smith's family's lives for years. It meant a lot that he married us," says Lexie. The couple opted not to write their own vows—anticipating that they would be too overcome with emotion to say them. "Sure enough, I was right!" says Lexie. "We just kept it simple with traditional vows, and turned to face the crowd and announce that we loved one another and indeed wanted to marry each other. It made everyone laugh and was one of our favorite moments of the ceremony."
Back Up the Aisle They Go
Lexie and Carter joyfully recessed back up the aisle after they were pronounced husband and wife.
The newlyweds carved out time for portraits at several spots around the property, including in front of the venue's well-known white wall. "Don't sweat the small stuff!" says Lexie. "Writing this now, I don't even remember what the small things were. What I do remember is that Carter and I had the time of our lives, and everyone still tells us what a great time they had to this day. Enjoy it, be present, focus on the fun, and remember that it's about your love for one another."
After their portrait session, Lexie and Carter joined their guests on the Great Lawn—which had been filled with plenty of lounge vignettes—for the rest of the cocktail hour.
Hanging swings offered more seating options; guests also sipped on three signature cocktails—called the "Badda Bing," "Badda Boom," and "Badda Bam"—and listened to jazz from Apollo Trio.
An acrylic seating chart calligraphed by Wendy Ware included the heading, "You can find your seat here, but your place is on the dance floor."
The couple's open-air tent was strung with thousands of white lights—"each strand of lights was spaced exactly six inches apart," says Lexie—and the couple installed a wooden walkway lined with bamboo lanterns to lead guests to the space. "The tent was beyond magical, and the energy was so amazing underneath it," says the bride. "I knew it would be beautiful, but I was absolutely blown away."
Lexie and her mother worked together to source bamboo lanterns that the couple hung from the ceiling, while The Lavender Rose created striking, six-foot-diameter pampas grass poufs. "I love pampas grass and definitely wanted it to be in the space somehow," says Lexie. "We went straight for impact and she created the pampas grass poufs of my dreams! It created the perfect balance between the delicacy of the bamboo lanterns against the wow factor of the poufs."
Bright and Beautiful
Flowers in shades of pale yellow, gold, and orange contrasted with bleached ferns and olive green foliage, while the wooden centerpiece vessels called back to the tone and texture of the aisle and walkway outside the tent.
Patterns and Prints
On the tables, ivory linen cloths set off colorful centerpieces, vintage bone flatware, and handmade batik-printed napkins. Water glasses in woven covers added texture and interest, and, says Lexie, "of course, we had candles, candles, and more candles."
After a family style meal—provided by the venue—that included pan-seared Alaskan salmon and prime New York strip steak, the couple served two different flavors of cake: graham cracker cake with vanilla filling, and red velvet cake with cream cheese filling. "We thought it would be cool to incorporate the Parker's white wall somehow," says Lexie. "So I left it in the hands of the venue's baker and she created a three-tiered white cake with orange shapes to reflect the wall."
The couple took their first dance to "You" by Chris Young, a song that reminds them of each other.
Lexie and Carter extended the celebrations with a "major after-party" that included one of their favorite club's DJ, Tony Martinez; late-night snacks of mini pizzas, sliders, tater tots, and bite-sized desserts; and glow necklaces. "We have a really fun and amazing group of friends and family that are super important to us," says Lexie. "We know these are people that never say no to a good time. No one knew it was happening until close to the end of the reception, and once we moved them into the ballroom and they saw the DJ booth and stage, neon everywhere, and snacks, it was game on all over again!"
Photography, Birds of a Feather Photography
Venue and Catering, Parker Palm Springs
Event Planning, After the Engagement
Flowers, The Lavender Rose
Videography, Grimace Films
Stationery, Lotus and Ash
Calligraphy, Kylie Yoshida Calligraphy (invitations); Wendy Ware (seating chart)
Music, Apollo Trio; DJ Tony Martinez; Raise Gospel Choir; Soulville
Rentals, The Ark; Hire Elegance; La Tavola Fine Linen Rental
Bride's Gown, Rita Vinieris
Bride's Accessories, Rita Vinieris veil; Dior shoes; Jimmy Choo shoes
Hair, Gilbert Muniz
Makeup, Makeup by Keturah
Flower Girl Dresses, Tutu du Monde
Groom's Attire, Canali
Menswear, The Black Tux
Groom's Accessories, Louis Vuitton tie; Cartier ring
Lighting, Peterson Event Lighting
Engagement Ring, Chad Goldstein
Guest Book, Vorfreude Stationery
Photo Book, MirMir
Welcome Gifts, Salt and Pepper Gifts