Our Colony 29 Wedding in Palm Springs: An Ultimate Inspiration Guide

I’ve had many questions about the why and the what about our beloved wedding at Colony 29. To give you an ultimate guide to EVERYTHING we picked, designed and chose, I decided to compile it all for you here in no particular order. Thank you so much for being with us so far and let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

colony 29 wedding guide
By Matthew William Photography

The venue: Colony 29, Palm Springs

Colony 29 is a estate vacation rental that you have to book at least 3 nights for. You can pay an event fee around $5,000 to hold a small intimate event there. There’s actually 6 smaller cabanas there you can rent, but we rented the main house called the Villa.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
From my iPhone

The colony used to be a “colony” for artists formed in 1929. Each artist was said to have put their own artistic touches to the house and so you’ll see just a little different decor here, but it all makes sense. It has 5 rooms, a heated pool and spa and sits up against the mountains of Palm Springs. It’s a wonderful wind breaker from the 45mph winds I know there to be on the other side.

The whole idea of this type of venue for our wedding came from shooting our clients Amy and Jason in Rancho Mirage back in 2013. We loved the idea of having friends and family stay with us and waking up to the estate. Lots of couples spend so much on a venue that you can only enjoy for a couple of hours. Why not make a mini vacation out of it?

Throughout our stay all of our adult relatives told us they absolutely loved it. This was pleasantly surprising because we knew it would be very un-traditional for them, so I’m really glad how with how much they raved about it. We worked with Adrienne Tiedmann as an event coordinator and she was a tremendous help to us.

There were so many photo opts here, we only got a taste with our photographer. After our stay, we’ll be happily returning each year for our anniversary. As an added bonus, no other people were renting the other cabanas below us, so it was like having the whole place to ourselves. We would wake up early, walk the grounds watch the incredible sunrise.

Colony 29 wedding guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Dress: After seeing 7 years of dresses ourselves, I never saw a dress I loved. In any case, I’m pretty zealous about originality so I always leaned toward things that weren’t trending or popular. The dress was handmade by a dress maker here in the states. I didn’t know I would actually find something that matched my vision so perfectly. It’s jersey satin underneath and has a tulle skirt on the outside. It’s so easy to put on and the wrinkles come out very easily with the steam off an iron (ghetto fabulous steaming).

The designer also named Meagan, also allowed me to ship the dress back to her to make alterations to the length. Since she was in Idaho it only took a couple of weeks.

The Bouquet: I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t like flowers. So I picked non-flower pieces at Michaels and put it together myself. Had some left over and made one for my sister. Because they’re fake, I can display them in our home forever. I went for colors that would look great next to my burgundy dress: dark greens, golds, and yellows. To make your own, simply gather some bunches you like, trim the excess with some nippers, bound it tightly with some hemp cord, glue gun ribbon around that. About 15 mins or so.

The Hair and Makeup: Tina Luong from Luong Lasting has been in our circle for sometime, however we hadn’t met personally on account of me always shooting the guys, retiring from weddings and so on. So even though we ran in the same industry we never had a chance to connect.

Obviously, she did a fantastic job and I continue to support her work and her team. You can find my detailed reviews of both the trial and the wedding day below.

Colony 29 wedding guide
By Matthew William Photography and my 70D

The Belt: I didn’t plan on having a belt in the first place, but after wearing the dress a couple of times, it needed some sort of accessory. The black ribbon you can buy at Michaels and the buckle I found on Etsy. It was great way to break up the dress, give me more form and adds a Grecian touch.

The Hairpins: Speaking of Grecian touches, I bought these before anything else. Little golden leaves from Amazon, in which I had so many left over I gave them to my mom, sister and mother-in-law.

The Shoes: I didn’t plan on these either, and I really only wore them for pictures. But I love them. the leopard print is something I adore, but don’t really get a chance to wear regularly. The burgundy tip was just the cherry on top. I searched perilously for these, after I decided that my wedges just weren’t going to do. They are a discontinued bootie heel by Jessica Simpson. For most the day I opted for some super comfy Zebra Toms. 

The watch: I don’t really wear bracelets, but I do love my watches. The fact that I was able to find a leopard hair (faux), gold, bracelet-like watch was just amazing. What a find!

Colony 29 wedding guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Decor: Since the Colony is so beautiful in it’s natural state, we didn’t have to really decorate anything. “Waste not, want not” – A quote I live by and even got Kevin to say. After shooting so many weddings, I wasn’t about to spend on something that I can’t enjoy afterwards. So almost 99% of what we bought for the wedding as decor isn’t a one-time-use.

Eucalyptus Garlands – After: decorated my banisters and made a wreathe for holidays.

Framed table numbers – After: put our pictures in it and finally utilized our china cabinet.

Self printed and stamped with my Auntie’s Glo’s stamp collection from Guam she gave me when I was 18. – had to toss these, so glad we only spent 12 bucks on the business card cut outs you can print at home.

Hand-made soaps with customizable text from Easy. – these were lovely before bed.

Self-designed and printed menu cards – After: scrapbook

Frames from TJMaxx clearance aisle – more pictures.

Lantern to hold cards from Big Lots – candle and home decor.

The Box the wine came in – home decor

The Ring Box: from Etsy 🙂 customized with our initials.

My Ring: When Kevin proposed on November 18, 2014 I was absolutely taken by surprise, which you can read about here.  The engagement ring and band he picked out with the help of his mom and got it from this designer. 

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Private Vows: This was a brilliant idea that Kevin saw during a wedding just this past year. The couple exchanged their own vows in a secret location with just the photographer present. We knew there would be so much emotion between us that we wanted to spare our guests from our crocodile tears, so we took this idea and ran with it.

Plus, vows are meant for the two of you saying it to each other so it was more fitting that guests hear the typical (although not so typical) musings they normally hear at a wedding ceremony performed by our very good friend Ann.

Our monogramed vow books: Found on Etsy, I figured it would be really cool for us to hand write our vows, be photographed with something other than a ratty piece of paper or iPhone and keep it or display it as a keepsake later on. These guys were really fast and really cute with their designed.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography
Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Ceremony: We’re not very religious, so we knew that a priest or whatever was out of the question. Honestly, I was always inspired by my favorite show of all time FRIENDS, to have one of our special friends marry us. So we instinctively chose Ann, which you might remember was a former client of ours.

She created everything from scratch and put everything in a gold notebook (it’s gold!) so perfect. Being that she was 9 months pregnant at the time makes her even more of an outstanding friend. It was absolutely magically to put on Kevin’s ring with her beside me.


Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Photographer: The question everyone has been asking us since forever! “Who’s going to photograph your wedding. We found Matthew William Photography either on Wedding Wire or something. We chose him on the basis that his work didn’t look like Kevin’s (which I love, but wanted something different) and he was an unknown, as far as we were concerned.

We didn’t want him to think of us as photographers, we just wanted him to do his job and be creative. Being on the other side is very cool. I like that his angles challenged our typical style and perfectly captured the emotion of the moment. For me, I could tell by his confidence and his work that we could trust his eye and style.

The DJ/ Emcee: Okay this was a very crucial decision. I’m so happy that Kevin opted to get a DJ for us. We know that the DJ runs the night, and yet we had been ignoring it’s importance. He kept it super humble, organized and ran smoothly, which in a wedding is the biggest thing to focus on. We’re very happy with Rick from Pro City DJ and really respect his attention to detail and support of the couple’s personal wants.

Also, his past clients sent him hand-written reviews and he posted them on his website. I thought that was such a personal and clever marketing idea!

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

Kevin’s Suit: Funnily enough, since this was supposed to a backyard wedding, his first suit was the one you see in our winter engagement photos. But as time went on and I started to glam up my look more, I wanted him to look more classic. So we decided on a black tux from J. Crew, one of his favorite places to shop. He had it fitted by a tailor in Costa Mesa (near South Coast Plaza).

Additionally, while he was getting fitted, I found my white engagement dress randomly at the TJMaxx down the road!

The Bowtie: I was really against Kevin wearing a bowtie at first. I thought I would make him look shorter, but when he tried it on, I was immediately hooked on the look. But it came a hefty time price. I remember he would spend hours learning how to tie it because we’ve seen so many grooms rush to look up “how to tie a bow tie” on YouTube on the day of their wedding.

Low and behold, he told me that he got it perfectly on the first try on the wedding. Boom.

The Pocket Square: I bought this off of TieBar and FYI, if you can help it just order it from Amazon, the shipping, tracking and customer service at TieBar isn’t really responsive. I chose wool, because I know from years of shooting guys that the satin ones are trickier. Wool holds it shape and stays in place against the suit pocket well. Also, just a suggestion, don’t be afraid to choose a pocket square that pops.

The Boutonnière: This was an surprise DIY project. I actually bought a lapel flower from TieBar as well, but felt it was too casual for the wedding. So we used it for the engagement shoot and I made one from Michael’s using the same technique I used for my bouquet. I glued a little decorative key on it to distinguish his from the others.

Also, since they were fake, it was impossible to use old-fashioned pins because the fake pieces had a huge metal wire running though it. So I found these Super Strong magnets off of Etsy (really hard to pinpoint btw) and glue gunned it to the boutonnière.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide

His Ring: I found a custom ring maker on Etsy who happened to be located in Israel. We talked over a couple of weeks about what I was looking for and how he could make it for me. We ended up with a brushed, rose-gold, smooth inside ring that I knew would look good with everything he wore and as he got older.

I’m a big fan of gold, but choosing rose-gold made it look less…I dunno, casino-gangsterish.

His Shoes: Most of the time, I always end up picking Kevin’s shoes. Chukka-style shoes always look good with his frame and height. So I looked for a shoe off one of my all-time favorite shoe makers, Frye. I have a pair of Frye boots and they last forever and fit perfectly because they’re all leather.

They were more expensive than my shoes, but actually all of Kevin’s clothes out weigh mine. LOL

His Suspenders: Kevin really wanted suspenders (now discontinued from TieBar), even though I bought him a belt. When he found a pair that was leather and satin I really fell in love with them. The suspenders act a great way to thin-out a stocky body (which is why I wear them from time to time.) Plus if you’re not wearing a vest, a black bow tie and white shirt is a bit too plain.

The Cufflinks: I feel like these are usually never looked at, unless its something novelty, but I bought them nonetheless. The point of a wedding is the ceremony, whereas even the act of putting on cufflinks, something that normal people usually don’t do become ceremonious and part of why that day is special.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
From my 70D

Kayden our Yorkie: I bought a little formal tie on Amazon for him. Loved it for the photos.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Food: This was the only thing that Kevin really owned. I’m not a crazy food fanatic outside of home-cooked meals, I leave that to Kevin. We found our vendors by attending the regular occuring Villagefest in Palm Springs every Thursday. There’s about a mile of food vendors and open-late businesses and it’s really festive and a great experience. We bought my sister along with us as well and settle on CVBBQ and El Buen Sazon. Both were super delicious. We even had left over food that fed everyone the next day.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Cupcakes: We had Ube cupcakes at this one wedding in Long Beach (not featured on the blog) so we called on them again for our wedding. The cake toppers are something special: Totoro Wooden figures, as we’re big fans of Studio Ghibli and Japan.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide

The PhotoBooth: Of course we used our own, but we opted for a special backdrop just for us. Something that would compliment the venue of Palm Springs. I designed the printout (which didn’t print out) but was able to share it digitally the next day.

Colony 29 Wedding Guide
By Matthew William Photography

The Music: This was really important to us. I wanted something we’ve never heard of during the weddings we shot, as well as something that hit on the lyrics, the tone and ambiance of each particular formality. And finding this artist was kinda weird. I found him on Spotify simply browsing.

I forget how I came across, but I have a feeling that it was just kinda meant-to-be. I chose these songs about 5 months before the wedding and only listened to the beginning of each song, in the first couple of seconds I could easily envision which songs would fit each moment of the wedding. Know that I write about it, it was something about the way these songs made me feel in an instant. The song I chose for first dance even made me tear up when I heard it.

Lastly, I wanted to surprise Kevin with these powerful songs and didn’t let him hear them until the wedding day. On the day of, he really loved them and when we got home he listened to them on repeat for days.

Here’s our complete song list:

Kevin walking down: Keep Us by Peter Bradley Adams

Me walking down: Full Moon Song by Peter Bradley Adams

Ceremony End: Let’s Go by Matt and Kim

Grand Entrance: You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne

First Dance: Between Us by Peter Bradley Adams

Mother/Son Dance: Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel

Father/ Daughter Dance: Yesterday Once More by The Carpenters

Cut the Cake: On Your Side by Pete Yorn

A huge thank you to those that helped make this wedding possible:

My mom and Grandma for catering food for the Rehearsal Dinner
Kevin’s mom catered Cocktail food
My sister Jenna was day-of-wedding coordinator and everything was spot on perfect
Jonathan and cousins helped set up wedding stuff