Months ago, after our Laguna Beach engagement session with Whitney Bonagofsky and Mike Dickman, we blogged, “If their wedding is half as fun and relaxed as they are, it’s going to be a blast!” On Saturday, May 27, 2017, it was time to put that prediction to the test.
The day was off to a good start at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, California. We arrived to find their pink and gold wedding decor welcoming us in. The roadrunners had arrived early, lending their support and filling the air with a buzz. Late May in the Coachella Valley holds the potential for unbearable heat, but the even weather was smiling on Whitney and Mike and their hopes for a comfortable wedding day.
The thing about Whitney and Mike is that they’re not just relaxed and fun-loving. They’re also two of the most genuine and caring people we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. So we weren’t surprised by the comfortable, fun atmosphere they created, but we should have been even less surprised by the intimacy and authenticity all around. They kept it close, with only had a maid of honor and best man on either side, as well as a second best man serving as their officiant. The small wedding party made for a leisurely getting-ready time, full of warm memories and laughter.
Mike waited for his bride in the shade of a palm grove, staying cool and looking cooler in his suit, sporting a watch given by his dad. But he couldn’t quite keep his cool when he saw Whitney approaching for the first time. The emotions came flooding in when he saw how stunning his bride looked in her elegant sheath gown with lace overlay. We allowed them to enjoy their moment together. Sometimes, couples can be so lost in the details, mishaps, and pressure that they can’t fully enjoy moments alone, but it was clear that these two were absolutely focused on one another. It was a fitting start to a day full of genuine emotion.
The intimacy of the day was further reflected in their relatively small 50-person guest list (not counting the roadrunners). Whitney and Mike’s loved ones took their seats on the clubhouse terrace that features one of the best views in the entire valley, making it one of our favorite ceremony sites. The ceremony was officiated by one of Mike’s best men, Jordan, with maid of honor Courtney and best man Jeremy on either side. Jordan did a masterful job of weaving in the perfect amount of humor and storytelling into a heartfelt ceremony without distracting from the importance of their bond or the significance of their commitment. Whitney and Mike soaked it in, never taking their eyes off of each other through laughter and joyful tears, from the entry to the kiss.
Whitney and Mike entered to a room full of bright smiles and cheers. Once all were seated and fed, Whitney’s dad, Jeremy, Jordan, and Courtney each toasted the newlyweds, recalling funny memories and treasured bonding moments. The first dance is always a highlight, but for these two, there couldn’t have been a more apt picture of their wedding day—bride and groom swirling at the center of a community of laughter and love. The blend of celebration and intimacy continued as Whitney danced with her dad and Mike danced with his mom. Finally, before dancing the night away, Whitney and Mike made sure to redirect attention back to their loved ones with a toast, thanking their friends and family for the cherished support all around.
As predicted, Whitney and Mike had a wedding day that was comfortable and enjoyable for everyone—photographers included. But more importantly, they had a day full of intimate connection with the people they love most. They made sure that the focus was right where it should be, perfectly exemplifying what we love most about weddings. You might have wedding decor that dazzles. You might have loads of unique entertainment planned. You might have an open bar and a packed dance floor. You might throw the party of the century. All of those things are wonderful (and we love to have fun), but nothing can replace the genuine love and connection shared between a bride and groom and their most cherished friends and family.
We’re so happy for you, Whitney and Mike!
Ceremony & Reception Venues: Desert Willow Golf Resort
Hair and Makeup Artists: Sitting Pretty Beauty Lounge
Florals: Jensen’s Floral
Cake & Cupcakes Bakery: Over the Rainbow Cupcakes
Photographers: Jennifer Yount Photography