A Colorful, Laid-Back Wedding in the Hills Above Palm Springs

These high school sweethearts let the desert serve as inspiration for their Palm Springs wedding

Updated 01/02/17

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The popular hangout spot you frequented in high school may not be where you’d expect to meet your future husband, but that’s what happened to Caitlin Pickavance and Panayioti Mastorakos in August of 2006. “We met just before our junior year of high school at the local movie theatre. Yes, we’re high school sweethearts!” the bride reveals. Nine years later, during a trip to Mexico, Panayioti popped the question as the couple dined at a rooftop restaurant overlooking Puerto Vallarta. “The waiter didn’t even know what was about to happen when Panayioti asked him to take a few pictures of us,” Caitlin says.

They spent just under a year planning their April 30, 2016, Palm Springs wedding, with the peach-pink sunsets, cacti, and desert setting serving as their inspiration. When the big day arrived, 115 guests joined the bride and groom at The O’Donnell House, a 1920s landmark building perched high above the city, offering lots of privacy along with amazing views. With a laid back vibe and succulents tucked into every corner, you’ll love this wedding’s California cool atmosphere, photographed by Nicole Leever Photography.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

A wash of peach watercolor brightened the couple’s simple invitation suite.

The bride accessorized with Yves Saint Laurent: “The Tribute sandals are so comfortable, and I knew I would be able to wear them all day and night,” she says.

Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Caitlin is an assistant buyer at Neiman Marcus, so she made the most of her dress shopping experience. “I made appointments every weekend through July and August, visiting salons with a different friend each time,” says the bride. “I wanted the experience to be stress-free and fun, and I wanted to try on as many dresses as possible to find out what I did and didn’t like.” She also knew there wasn’t any pressure: “I had a trip planned with my mom in September, and I was certain we’d find my dress then.” And she did! Caitlin fell in love with a simple ivory V-neck halter gown by Vera Wang, with a double strap at the neck and silk organza petals on the train. Instead of a veil, she finished the gown with a removable organza bow at the neck.

Caitlin’s bouquet was full of desert inspiration, with white peonies alongside peach garden roses, all studded with sculptural succulents.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Panayioti wore a light gray suit to stand out against his groomsmen, who wore charcoal. He paired the suit with a berry-hued Burberry tie, which added an eye-catching pop of color and pattern.

The couple’s ceremony took place on the property’s lawn, with a petal-lined aisle flanked by white chairs and local palm trees and cacti in the background.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The stairway leading down to the ceremony, where Caitlin made her grand entrance, was decorated with curly willow, eucalyptus, soft pink peonies, ranunculus, and succulents. At the entrance to the aisle, two oversized lanterns were topped with peonies and garden roses.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Before guests were seated for the ceremony, they stopped by the petal bar to pick up paper bags full of rose petals to toss after Panayioti and Caitlin said “I do.”

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Caitlin’s father walked her down the aisle, then her parents gave her away to Panayioti. “The pastor who married us is a lifelong friend of my parents — he was the one to marry them on their wedding day!” says the bride. She and Panayioti wrote their own vows, choosing a word limit and an “I promise” theme to tie them together. “We ended our vows with lyrics from the chorus of our first dance song,” Caitlin remembers.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

Panayioti’s groomsmen wore charcoal gray suits, while the bridesmaids donned shades of peach, mauve, and dusty rose. Caitlin’s cousin, Jake, was the ring bearer, and was more than happy to ham it up with the wedding party!

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

“With eight bridesmaids, I knew I didn’t want them all in the same dress,” Caitlin says. “Instead I picked four styles and colors, and let them pick what they each wore from there.”

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The double-strap neckline of Caitlin’s gown, with both thick straps and a halter, created an architectural look we totally love. The mermaid style was finished with a train of organza petals, adding movement to the ivory silk. “We planned most of our wedding over the phone,” says the bride. “We live in Dallas, so we only had two or three in-person meetings with our vendors beforehand.”

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The outdoor reception took place on the O’Donnell House’s patio, which overlooks all of Palm Springs. Guests were seated at round tables topped with green thistle, protea, ranunculus, and votive candles.

Each place setting featured a blush napkin, gold charger, and printed menu. Dinner included a grilled port pear salad, grilled steak with mushrooms, and salmon filet with risotto. Guests sipped the couple’s signature drinks, a French 75 for her and an Old Fashioned for him.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

The wedding party sat at a bare head table, lit with lanterns and draped with a lace runner and the same garland used for the ceremony staircase — a totally gorgeous way to keep those floral costs under control!

Panayioti and Caitlin’s three-tiered wedding cake was a stunner. The white fondant was brushed in gold, then the cake was topped with peonies, ranunculus, and succulents. Layers of vanilla butter pound cake were filled with strawberry and vanilla mousse.

Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography
Photo by Nicole Leever Photography

“The same band that played at my mother’s wedding to my stepfather also played at our wedding. They’ve become a family favorite of ours!” says Caitlin of Chris Lomeli. “He also played a special selection of Greek music, especially for Panayioti’s family. Being on the dance floor with all of them was so fun!”

Just before the couple headed to Tulum for their honeymoon, they surprised their guests with a late-night fireworks display. “We did our best to enjoy every moment, as the day goes so fast,” says Caitlin. “Remember to be in the moment, and don’t forget to be thankful and always say thank you!”

Ceremony & Reception Venue: The O'Donnell House || Day-Of Coordinator: The Events Department || Bride's Wedding Dress: Vera Wang || Hair & Makeup: Vea at J. Russell Salon || Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Florist: Jensen's Florist || Invitations & Paper Products: Minted || Music: Chris Lomeli || Catering: Westwood Catering || Cake: Exquisite Desserts || Rentals: Classic Party Rentals || Videographer: Jes Workman & Luna Bay Films || Photographer: Nicole Leever Photography

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