A Boisterous Retro Wedding
in the Mojave Desert

Real Weddings
colorful retro wedding portrait

Photo: David Branson

"My motto is go big or don't try,'" says Tanner, now a Ph.D. student at Boston University. Case in point: For his L.A. proposal to his high school sweetheart, Kaitlin (they both hail from Long Beach), he rented out a movie theater, screened her favorite film (the Japanese drama "After Life"), interrupted it halfway through with an on-screen proposal, then threw an engagement party behind the movie house. "It was the most surreal day of my life!" says Kaitlin.

Another breakthrough moment for the convention-busting couple: being the first people ever to throw a wedding at the Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat in Joshua Tree, California. "It's this punk-rock, retro oasis with vintage Airstream trailers and a BB-gun range," says Kaitlin, a production assistant. "The moment we set foot on the property, we said, 'We have to get married here!'"

But pioneering had its challenges. "Hicksville's located off an unmarked dirt road in the middle of the Mojave. And we had to bring everything—from tables to flatware," she says.

retro tipi wedding portrait
diy retro wedding bouquet
retro bhldn wedding shoes
vintage wedding rings

Photos: David Branson

Kaitlin styled her vintage tea-length wedding dress (purchased at The Paper Bag Princess) with bridal shoes from BHLDN and a bouquet created by her mother. "I gave my mom free rein to design the bouquet," says the bride, who carried roses, billy buttons, and tulle down the aisle. Tanner bought Kailin a vintage ring set at an antiques market; his band came from Etsy jeweler Neta Wolpe.

retro bridal party ideas
mint green flower girls dress
retro bridesmaid hairstyle ideas

Photos: David Branson

"I had five bridesmaids and one mansmaid—though he prefers the term bridesman," Kaitlin says. "My niece, Kate, was the flower girl. She loved twirling in her mint green petticoat dress!" Kaitlin's mom made hair clips for the bridesmaids to wear with their yellow chiffon Maggie London dresses.

The groom wore an octopus tie clip with his gray suit. "It fit in with the surreal look we were going for," says Kaitlin, which was never more evident than when Tanner took aim at his groomsmen in Hicksville's BB-gun-and-archery range.

octopus tie clip
creative groomsmen portraits
front porch wedding ceremony ideas

Photos: David Branson

The couple turned to friends and family for help sourcing some of their details: Friend Elizabeth Jackson of Please Note paper goods created colorful pom-poms for the altar space. Tanner's mom officiated. The only hitch? The wind: "Most of the balloons blew away, and our hair looked crazy. But we just laughed and rolled with it," says Kaitlin.

retro wedding beverage presentation ideas
retro soda bottles
wedding polaroid photo station
retro table number wedding ideas

Photos: David Branson

After the two exchanged vows they'd written together, the party moved to the pool area for music (everything from the Bees to R.E.M.), food (salmon and steak), and custom cocktails (dubbed the Desert Banshee and the Devil's Wand). "Rather than haul seventy bazillion glasses to the desert, we had guests each pick one glass for the evening," says Kaitlin. Tubs of soda bottles gave the reception a retro feel. Instead of a guestbook, the couple set up a Polaroid station, while Mexican lotería cards served as table numbers. Kaitlin's favorite dish? "The quinoa salad!" she says, although there was also a cake for her 25th birthday, which fell on the same day. "Everyone I love sang to me," she says. "That will never happen again!"

retro wedding dinner ideas
retro wedding after party
poolside wedding reception ideas

Photos: David Branson

By 10 p.m., all but a handful of the 45 guests were gone, and the couple settled in for a night of drinks and Ping-Pong with their friends. "Our friend Bucky, who's a bit of a cocktail aficionado, manned the bar for the after-party," says Kaitlin. Hicksville's owner's old pickup became part of the party decor. "Later Tanner asked, 'Do you think everyone had fun?' " Kaitlin remembers. "I was like, 'Babe, my grandmother left with a glow stick on her head!' "

desert wedding getaway car ideas

Photo: David Branson

—Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Venue: Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat, Joshua Tree, California || Day-of planning: Firefly Events || Vintage bride's dress: The Paper Bag Princess || Hair & makeup: Lindsay Fleischmann of Label Me Lindsay || Bridesmaids' dresses: Maggy London || Flower-girl dress: Dreamspun Kids || Groom's pants & vest: Eddie's Tailor Shop || Caterer: Ricochet Gourmet || Stationery: Ampersand Studios || DJ: Morgan Higby Night || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals || Photographer: David Branson Photography

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