Bride leans on groom's shoulder as they stare at the vast desert landscape | PartySlate
photographer: Trisha Shelley | planner: Shine Events | venue: The Paseo
The Best of | National | Weddings

12 Desert Wedding Ideas That are Anything but Sparse

Bride leans on groom's shoulder as they stare at the vast desert landscape | PartySlate

Is there anything more beautiful than a desert wedding? Dramatic mountainscapes, open vistas, and towering cacti form a stunning backdrop to desert nuptials. Even natural lighting is more breathtaking in a desert setting. Hazy morning mirages shift to bold and beautiful sunsets. Bright blue skies end in millions of glittering stars.

Whether you’re hosting a boho desert wedding or more formal affair, you’ll want to plan a celebration that captures the beauty of this magnificent landscape. PartySlate looked through hundreds of real weddings to find our favorite desert wedding ideas. From mirrored arches that render optical illusions to succulent table décor, we know 12 ways to set your celebration apart from the rest.

1. Let the Desert Be Your Focal Point

Boho desert wedding with ceremonial cactus focal point | PartySlate
photographer: Rebecca Skidgel Photography | event coordinator: Simple Means Events | florist: The Floral Theory

Mesa, AZ 

With simple wooden benches and a frame of neutral wood cutouts, a towering cactus becomes the dramatic focal point for this desert-chic ceremony. For more boho desert wedding inspiration, see how the bouquets and centerpieces feature the same style of lavish pampas grass. 


2. Stun With Optical illusions

Wedding aisle lined with mirrored archways and pampas grass in desert landscape | PartySlate
photographer: Dennis Kwan Photography | planner: Colin Cowie Lifestyle | venue: Amangiri

Canyon Point, UT

With ever-shifting sands and refracting light rays, the desert spins optical illusions at every turn. This stunning outdoor ceremony took its inspiration from the natural landscape. Consecutive mirrored archways reshape the surrounding canyons, while dreamy pampas grass beautifully complements the earth-toned desert.

3. Make the Desert Bloom

Tropical wedding arch against desert backdrop | PartySlate
photographer: Hannah Costello | planner: Nicole Alexandra Events & Designs | floral:Rebelle Fleurs Event Design | venue: Colony 29

Palm Springs, CA

For centuries, civilizations have sought to turn the desert into a welcoming oasis. We love how desert palms create a tropical escape in the midst of endless sands and stark canyons. This wedding arch, in particular, turns this arid landscape into a verdant garden. Make sure to see how the desert wedding bouquet wowed with the same palm leaf details.

4. Paint the Landscape With Color

Wedding night reception in desert with candlelight and purple and red lighting projected onto surrounding canyons | PartySlate
photographer: Dennis Kwan Photography | planner: Colin Cowie Lifestyle | venue: Amangiri

Canyon Point, UT

Incorporate your wedding color palette into florals, linen, glassware — and even the surrounding landscape. Colorful lighting projections extended this event space far into the desert mesas. Make sure to see how this vibrant color scheme was also incorporated into the moody and dramatic tablescapes.

5. Stage Your First Look With an Epic View

Hindu wedding first look set between two towering cacti with desert mountains in backdrop | PartySlate
photo courtesy of, planning & design: event planner and design: Simply Elegant Event and Wedding Design

Phoenix, AZ

Your first look will be one of the most memorable moments of your wedding day. It will also be one of the most photographed. Take advantage of your location and stage your first look against a stunning desert backdrop. We love how towering cacti frame this couple for the perfect shot. Make sure to see the lavish floral mandap, as well. We’ve always known flowers and the desert are a match made in heaven.

6. Keep it Cool and Shady

Desert wedding with white petals on aisle lined with white shady umbrellas | PartySlate
photography: Callaway Gable | planning & design: Nicole Alexandra Events & Designs | floral: Rebelle Fleurs Event Design | venue: La Quinta Resort & Club

La Quinta, CA

Don’t let the desert sun keep you from enjoying an outdoor ceremony or reception. Umbrellas pair beauty with utility, so guests can enjoy your nuptials in both comfort and style. Make sure to see how this stunning ceremony site appeared from afar — with the Santa Rosa Mountains in the backdrop.

7. Put the Desert in Print

photographer: TRISHA SHELLEY |planner: Shine Events | venue: The Paseo  

Apache Junction, AZ

When it comes to invitations and signage, take inspiration from the desert landscape. We love how cacti illustrations add a whimsical touch to this custom print suite. Discover the real cacti behind the look at this beautiful desert wedding in Arizona. The first-look photos are particularly stunning. 

8. Elevate Your Tablescape With Succulents

Intimate wedding reception table filled with succulents at Hacienda Del Sol | PartySlate
photographer: Elyse Hall | planning, floral & design:  Atelier de LaFleur | venue: Hacienda Del Sol

Tucson, AZ

Succulents dress up any wedding tablescape — without the help of a single bloom. These eco-friendly centerpieces celebrate Tucson’s native plant life. Make sure to see how succulents inspired everything from the ceremony to reception aesthetic. Even the cake benefitted from succulent details.

9. Keep Guests Refreshed

Bride and groom click signature cocktails at desert wedding | PartySlate
photographer: La Lane Photography | planner: Sandy Walker | floral & décor: The Wildflower AZ & The Confetti Studio | venue: Royal Palms Resort & Spa Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ

You’ll want to make sure everyone quenches their thirst in the hot desert sun. Signature cocktails are a fun way to add color to the desert scenery — while also giving guests some respite from the higher temperatures. See how this couple’s signature drinks matched the colors palette of the bride’s bouquet. We are officially swooning.

10. Bring in the Pampas Grass

Pampass grass table décor at rustic desert wedding | PartySlate
photo courtesy of & floral: Figure Eight Events | concept & design: The Counterfeit Wedding | venue: Weddings at Sunset Hills 

Apple Valley, CA

Pampas grass thrives in desert landscapes. This hardy plant is not only resilient; it’s also beautiful. We love how the soft neutral color palette mirrors the desert sand and stone vistas. Of course, delicate pops of pink also bring a romantic vibe to this picture-perfect tablescape.

11. Add in a Pop of Color

Two groom touch foreheads between Bougainvillea vines at desert wedding in Scottsdale, AZ | PartySlate
photographer: Daniel Kim Photography | planner: Konsider It Done | floral: Mint Green Designs | venue: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Scottsdale, AZ

Bougainvillea vines brighten this neutral desert backdrop — with a little help from a custom-made tux. Brilliant pinks enhance the scene many times over. See how a vivid pink wedding cake takes monochromatic desert wedding décor to the next level, while elevated floral centerpieces create a garden oasis for wining-and-dining. 

12. Take the Entertainment Outside

Cornhole game at desert wedding | PartySlate
photo courtesy of & planner: Miranda Madison Events

Phoenix, AZ

Guests will want to enjoy the stunning desert scenery. Give them the opportunity to revel in the surrounding beauty with outdoor entertainment — be it a live band or interactive lawn games. See how this desert wedding kept the mountain views in sight at all times with cornhole games and an elegant ceremony. Best of all, the reception venue reflected the backdrop of mountains with mirrored paneling.

People Also Ask…

What do I wear to a desert wedding?

Desert weddings range from elegant and formal to boho-chic. As such, your wedding fashion will depend on the theme and style of your celebration. For a more elevated look, we recommend minimalist satins and lavish, feathery ruffles. Some of our favorite boho wedding attire includes free-flowing gowns and lots of lace

Guests should look to the wedding invitation or website for information on dress code. Once you know the level of formality, you can model your attire accordingly.

Where can I find desert wedding venues?

Use PartySlate’s curated venue directory to find an available wedding venue for your dream celebration. First, type in your preferred desert location. You can also use the filters to narrow your search by venue type, guest count, amenities, and more.

You can also check out 33 Honeymoon Destinations That Also Make Perfect Wedding Venues to find some of our favorite Scottsdale desert wedding venues. We guarantee, you’ll want to stick around post-nuptials for an unforgettable honeymoon experience.

Where can I find more wedding inspiration?

Forget the endless Pinterest scrolling. PartySlate features curated wedding inspiration for a stand-out celebration. Click on the following for the best wedding ideas: