These days, the desert is proving hot in more ways than one. Besides its high temperatures, it's also stealing the spotlight in the wedding style. It may not initially sound like the most romantic place to tie the knot, but there is something undeniably beautiful about the arid charm of barren land and saying "I do" in the middle of nowhere. Seriously—what's not to like about sunset-colored mountains, an endless night sky peppered with all the constellations, and prickly, decadent cactus scenery? Even if you're without an epic desert wedding venue, there are still plenty of ways to infuse inspiration from the stark landscape.
Color palettes for a desert-inspired wedding often go one of two ways: bold and colorful or warm and dusky, sometimes even converging the two. Many come with boho or tribal touches, such as Navajo patterns, Moroccan cushion seating, or eclectic textiles. Others showcase a Southwestern flair, incorporating elements like longhorn skulls or leather accents. And there are always geodes, agates, and gemstones for earthy touches.
But the real heart of a desert-inspired wedding is in its flora. Yes, cacti can be more than just a backdrop. Weave them into your floral arrangements or bouquet, pot them as bookends to the altar or ceremony aisle, or arrange them across reception tables to fashion a runner centerpiece. Even cacti paddles have proven themselves to be spectacular decor as table numbers or dinnerware accents. For a sweeter touch, there's no denying the allure of succulents, whether you use them as centerpieces, boutonnières, escort cards, or even wedding favors (ones that your guests will actually keep!). For a more subtle touch, pampas grass and desert cattails have a more rugged nature with a rustic vibe while protea, the desert's most beautiful flower, brings a romantic twist.
Our minds reel just thinking about the endless options. We compiled a list of our favorite desert-themed decor details that are more than hot. No oasis necessary.
Say "I Do" Under a Rustic Branch Arch
A Persian rug, a rustic arch of branches, and cactus accents bring bohemian flavor to this desert ceremony. Imagine exchanging your vows under this arch!
Wrap Cacti in Florals
A floral garland romanticizes a saguaro cactus, making for one dreamy desert-ceremony backdrop. Who would've thought something so prickly could look so dreamy and delicate?
Mix Sheer and Cacti
Potted cacti and succulents add a pop of zesty green to a romantic backdrop of gauzy linens billowing in the breeze.
Walk Under Mossy Archways
Mossy archways of air plants and other rich flora from the barren land put an elegant twist on desert life.
Decorate the Chairs
Tillandsia adorns back-row ceremony chairs for a dash of desert whimsy.
Add Some Navajo Blankets
With a wide expanse of sunburst canyon and a wispy desert, not much is needed for a stunning ceremony. Minimalist Navajo blankets add a final touch to the seating.
Use King Proteas Garland
A lush garland of king proteas blooms infuses the desert's sweetness with a romantic take.
Line Aisle With Potted Succulents
Potted succulents make a sweet desert statement as aisle decor. Get creative and mix and match pot sizes and contents.
Arrange a Desert-Infused Bouquet
A wild bouquet of burnt red yucca, pale pink florals, green succulents, and cacti infuses the tones and elements of the desert.
Make a Grand Entrance
Whether replacing a getaway car or limo service as a grand entrance, a pair of camels makes for a dramatic statement.
Keep It Open
What's dreamier than dining al fresco in an open landscape? An open tent with string lighting lets guests soak in gorgeous views, including a chance for endless stargazing when day turns to night.
Highlight Both Sand and Sea
The desert meets the sea in this dreamy setup with an ocean backdrop, shades of blue, and pots of mini cacti scattered across the table. Pro tip: If there's no water in sight, infuse azure hues and turquoises in your tablescape instead.
Designate a Southwestern-Style Lounge Area
Is there a more perfect desert reception venue than an open adobe house? A Southwestern-style lounge area with an eclectic mix of bohemian pillows, wicker swivel chairs, wood, and fire-red metal seating fits right in. Your guests can relax here while waiting for festivities to begin.
Prepare Double-Duty Succulents
How adorable are these miniature potted cacti and succulents that double as escort cards and favors? Resourceful and ecofriendly.
Use Rainbow Rock Escort Tags
Another great double-duty item? Rocks. Glittering rainbow rocks in azure tones with cognac leather escort tags sing the notes of a Southwestern tune. Your guests will love to take these home as souvenirs.
DIY Escort Cards
These DIY dip-dyed escort cards create a stunning watercolor display, mimicking the rosy and dusty tones of a desert landscape.
Adorn With Air Plants
This handsome escort-card display features a mahogany folding screen of intricate carvings, adorned with air plants for a desert touch.
Stick to Sunny Colors
This sunny tablescape takes on Palm Springs flair with blush and copper tones and a centerpiece of pampas grass and cacti.
Incorporate Rust-Colored Shades
Warm, rust-colored shades and hues of teal and purple bring a desert sunset to life in this intimate reception setup. We love how Moroccan pouf seating and Southwestern-style rugs marry desert influences from around the world.
Use Cactus Paddle Table Numbers
Cactus paddles doubling as table numbers, next to a gorgeous bouquet mimicking desert canyon tones, bring a fun twist to the table.
Or Cactus Paddle Place Settings
Cactus paddles can also bring a subtle hint of the desert, like in this pastel place setting, looking especially at home against a macramé runner.
Make Cacti the Centerpiece
This earth-toned tablescape takes on an indie feel with organic elements, from candles and wood accents to a bare table and pop of periwinkle linens. A grouping of cacti as a centerpiece steals the show.
Create a Desert-at-Dusk Vibe
This reception table is like no other: A shadowbox style houses stones and geodes with a quartz-like feel, tying in dreamily with a matching agate name holder. Combined with slate-blue plates and a dash of copper, the palette has a desert-at-dusk vibe.
Think Terra-Cotta Details
A whitewashed place setting paired with terra-cotta details puts a chic spin on cactus decor.
Use a Geode Menu
How unique is this menu? A polished geode rock in zesty yellow with a natural geometric pattern resembles a lively desert sunrise.
Go Bold With a Statement Runner
A cheerful yellow statement runner and a textured centerpiece of roses, dahlias, blushing-bride proteas, king proteas, and banksia cones mimic the kaleidoscope of the desert sky.
Serve a Cactus Cake
A plump cactus makes a simple statement atop a naked cake.
Top Your Ombré Cake
Nature shows its beauty in this ombré cake with dusty-blue and sage tones, thanks to an air-plant topper and mossy accents.
Add a Faux Skull to a Centerpiece
Desert meets edgy autumn with a runner in a moody, husky palette and a longhorn skull—it's possible to get a faux one—centerpiece with a Southwestern feel.
Integrate Tribal Patterns
A runner with a simple tribal pattern and a centerpiece of air plants and cattails bring the hues of the desert alive.