Wedding: Katie & Minya

From Katie (the bride in a dress): Minya and I met in 2006 while volunteering and it was love at first sight. She was serving lasagna and I was doing a bad job of not being obvious while smiling at her from across the room. We quickly became friends, although we didn’t officially begin dating until May of 2009. Minya, who is Serbian, had gone home to visit her parents in Montenegro for a few months and we began Skyping with each other every day until she finally decided to come back to LA. I like to joke that we won the “lesbian U-Haul” contest because I basically picked her up from the airport, brought her back to my apartment, and she never left!

Minya proposed at the meditation gardens overlooking the Swami’s surf break in Encinitas, CA. We were originally going to get married in our hometown of Los Angeles, but our plans fell through and we ended up stumbling upon Spencer’s which is located on the grounds of the Palm Springs Tennis Club. We love everything about Palm Springs: the mid-century vibe, the foodie scene, and its gay-friendly atmosphere, so the decision to move the wedding out there was an easy one. Spencer’s was the perfect mix of old Hollywood elegance and breathtaking desert landscapes, complete with picturesque palm trees, a vast mountain backdrop, and a couple of 100-year old cacti that framed the space we decided on for our altar. Leslie, the coordinator at Spencer’s, was very accommodating and worked with our budget to help us create the perfect set-up, menu, and wedding cake. Once we knew we were sticking with the restaurant, we went out to the bridal shop together and I purchased the first dress I tried on. Minya found her suit shortly after, but spent some extra time looking for shoes since they are always her favorite accessory!

We knew we wanted to pay for the wedding ourselves which meant not hiring anyone to help plan and incorporating a lot of DIY elements while sticking to a very tight budget. Spencer’s is a unique venue in that the ceremony took place outside in a garden setting, the cocktail hour took place around the pool, and the dinner reception took place in the banquet room overlooking the pool and the restaurant. I knew my love of soft pinks, greens and golds would work nicely in the ballroom setting, but my love for a southwestern palette had me torn and I knew hot pink, orange and pops of yellow would work well with the bougainvillea and vibrant desert locale. We decided on the best of both worlds by spending our wedding weekend at the famed Saguaro Hotel, know for its bold colorful design. We gifted bright floral robes for our bridal party to get ready in and added desert staples like air plants and succulents into all of our floral pieces, as well as fresh rosemary from our florist’s home garden which is a Serbian wedding tradition (our bouquets smelled great!). I made countless trips to thrift (and Dollar) stores for things like antique serveware, mason jars, votives, and frames, which were all spray-painted gold and used as centerpieces; I took advantage of free printables for things like our guest book and “Mrs. & Mrs.” cake signs; and I hand stamped all of the escort cards with a simple gold leaf. I looked to Etsy for everything from floral crowns for the flower girls and bow ties for the boys, to our wedding bands which are brushed and hammered from sustainable, eco-friendly recycled 18K gold. Minya and I spent the last few weekends cutting our own table runners from discount summer fabric and putting together all of our “To have and to hold” wedding programs which doubled as fans for our guests. We made sure to infuse elements of our personalities wherever we could, from ring boxes that paid homage to our love of bikes to handwritten quotes on chalkboards from some of our favorite poets. I was nervous about how it would all come together so it was amazing to look around the room and see how all of our handmade DIY decorations had transformed this fairly dark banquet room into a romantic, magical atmosphere.

With regard to our ceremony, most of our guests had not been to a same-sex wedding before and weren’t sure what to expect, so in a way it was exciting because it allowed us to sort of “break the rules” a bit and left us with a clean slate to build upon. It also presented unique challenges throughout the planning process like changing routine ceremony wording and deciding on how we wanted to be announced. It was very important to us that our ceremony be traditionally structured and spiritual in nature, while maintaining a sort of classic, relaxed vibe in the spirit of Palm Springs. Our ring bearers wore matching sunglasses and our flower girls made a barefoot entrance. In honor of my aunt Isabel who passed away a few years ago, I wore her favorite pieces of jewelry which served as my “something borrowed.” Our parents walked us down the aisle to a string quartet version of Etta James’ “At Last” and we exchanged handwritten (and very tearful) vows with each other in which we promised to never go to bed angry and to take each other’s temperature even when the other person thinks “she’s fine.” We made sure to combine our Irish and Serbian cultures with meaningful elements like a traditional handfasting ritual (tying the knot) and little gold bells were given to guests with tags that read, “As we share our first wedded kiss, ring this bell for lifelong bliss. Ring the bell with all your might ’til the happy brides are out of sight!” which of course made for a very sweet exit, accompanied by Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are The Best Thing” as our recessional. Other special moments were during the reception when one of our flower girls caught the bouquet (she was so excited), blessings from our sisters, and my father’s toast which had everyone in the room, including our vendors, in tears as he welcomed Minya’s parents in their native Serbian language and reminded everyone that “love is love.” People are still talking about his speech and how perfect it was, and I will forever be proud of him for the words he shared that night.

The highlight of our wedding was most definitely our guests. Friends and family came from near and far to be there and we were so overwhelmed with all of the love and support we received in those busy days leading up to the big day. It was more wonderful than we could’ve ever imagined and we are looking forward to spending our anniversary weekend in Palm Springs for years to come!

Event Credits

Attire: Dress: Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner & Suit: J. CrewCakes and Dessert: Ice Cream Favors by Coolhaus ( Spencer's Restaurant ( Shannon G's Flowers ( Spencer's At The Mountain, Palm Springs, CAMusic: DJ Aubrey Henderson ( Wedding Bands: Point No Point Studio ( Ashley French Photography ( Vistaprint ( Spencer's At The Mountain (
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