Instead of going to one of their hometowns or even Washington, D.C., the city where they met, Rachel Louie and Abe Liao decided to host their wedding in the new city they call home: Palm Springs, California. “We wanted to showcase our beautiful new city to our friends and family, so we loved the outdoor space Colony Palms had to offer,” Rachel says of their wedding venue.
Since both Rachel and Abe work in hospitality but wanted to be complete guests, so they hired Courtney Tibbets of After The Engagement to plan the wedding from start to finish. “She made it seamless and helped calm us down and keep us focused if we ever got stressed,” Rachel says. “Literally, because of her, our day was more than we could have ever dreamed of.”
That day included heartfelt vows to one another—and to Abe’s two daughters—as well as touching speeches from friends and family on the lawn of the Colony Palms Hotel, where the couple held the ceremony and reception. Guests dined on a family-style meal, to promote conversation with one another, and danced alongside Chinese lion dancers before the couple took the last dance to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” After, they jetted off to Maui for a mini-moon. “Oh, how we wish we could relive it again,” Rachel says.
Read on for all the sweet details from Rachel and Abe’s wedding, planned by After The Engagement and photographed by Tony Wodarck.
The couple invited their 145 to celebrate with them in Palm Springs, California, the city the couple now calls home. Their invitation suite set the tone for the weekend with an illustration of palm fronds and gold accents.
Abe proposed to Rachel along a canal in Amsterdam with a marquee-cut diamond and yellow gold ring.
Rachel was dress shopping with her mother and mother-in-law when she found her silk sheath dress by Savannah Miller. “When I came out with MY dress, they were both speechless,” she says. On the big day, she paired it with floral-embellished heels and a jade bracelet, being that jade is an extremely lucky stone in Chinese culture. “I didn’t want to change any aspect of my look," she says. "I felt like a bride!”
I didn’t want to change any aspect of my look—I felt like a bride!
Rachel’s bouquet included a variety of white flowers, including roses and anemones.
The couple did a first look to kick off the wedding day. For the big reveal, Abe wore a black tuxedo from Suitsupply with black suede loafers for the ceremony with a few nods to his heritage: a jade pendant and a gold chain given to him by his parents.
After their emotional first look, the couple took portraits at a variety of locations around their wedding venue. “We wanted an outdoor affair full of, good food and good drinks, and most importantly, a great dance party,” Rachel says.
Rachel’s bridesmaids wore a mix of black dresses and jumpsuits that each woman picked out to show off her personal style.
Abe’s groomsmen all donned matching black tuxedos from The Black Tux that they paired with antique typewriter-style cufflinks.
The couple used lots of natural greenery to offset the black-and-white color palette for the day. That included a hanging floral arch as the ceremony backdrop.
Rachel was escorted down the aisle by her father.
Abe’s daughters served as flower girls, wearing custom rainbow-accented dresses (look at the hem!)—a look they actually requested. “We were happy to oblige,” Rachel says.
Rachel prepared special vows for the girls as well, which were heartfelt, genuine, and there were very few dry eyes afterward.
After sharing their personalized vows with one another, Rachel surprised the crowd with an additional set of vows—for her soon-to-be step-daughters. “Rachel prepared special vows for the girls as well, which were heartfelt, genuine, and there were very few dry eyes afterward," Abe says.
“Be present for the days leading up to the wedding, for the entirety of the big day, and for the glowing days after,” Rachel advises. “Before you know it, it’ll all be a memory.”
To keep with the chic vibe, table assignments were written on a massive acrylic board and the card box was also made from acrylic.
Also done in acrylic, the couple had a box made to hold cards from their loved ones.
We shared the table with our daughters so it was wonderfully intimate, but we felt so loved being surrounded by our friends and family.
Rachel and Abe shared a "family table" with his daughters. It had quite the prominent placement: atop a custom bridge built over the pool! “We shared the table with our daughters so it was wonderfully intimate, but we felt so loved being surrounded by our friends and family,” Rachel says.
Tables were topped with gold vessels overflowing with greenery, white flowers, and gold spray-painted palm leaves. The reception décor included reclaimed wood tables with black-and-white flowers, greenery, and a pop of gray on the linens.
The couple surprised their guests, including their parents, with Chinese lion dancers as a nod to Abe’s heritage. It remains one of the couple’s favorite memories. “Lion dance performers were incredible,” Rachel says. “Everyone was captivated as they wound around the pool.”
After dinner, the bridge served as a focal point for the couple’s first dance.
The couple skipped some traditions, like a bouquet toss, but kept a sweet one to honor their parents: the father-daughter and mother-son dances.
Towards the end of the night, Rachel threw on a customized Mrs. Liao jean jacket for the reception, a look mirrored by Abe’s daughters, who had their own personalized jackets too.
Having a great dance party was a priority for the couple, and they were successful—guests of all ages were on the dance floor all night!
The couple cut into a single-tier cake but didn’t make a big point of showing off the moment to the crowd. Instead, they took made their last dance—to "Hey Jude" by The Beatles—their big moment. “We crowded in a circle with our parents singing, and before we knew it, the rest of our guests gathered in a circle surrounding us and we all shouted the song together," Rachels recalls. "It was such a powerful moment full of love and support!”
Wedding Venue & Catering Colony Palms Hotel
Wedding Planner Courtney Tibbets of After The Engagement
Floral Design The Lavender Rose
Bride's Dress Savannah Miller
Hair & Makeup Jen Plus Colour; Say I Do Updos
Groom’s Attire Suit Supply
Groomsmen Attire The Black Tux
Floral Design The Lavender Rose
Music DJ Matt Phipps
Cake Over The Rainbow Bakery and Desserts
Rentals Planks and Patina; Signature Party Rentals
Videography Iron and Fern
Photography Tony Wodarck