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A Mid-Century Modern Desert Dance Party

by Staff

Stephanie Moise and Daniel Ariniello met at work, of all places, and it began innocently enough. “We became fast friends,” Stephanie remembers. “We hung out almost daily, over lunch and after work; laughing over the craziness of our jobs, deconstructing the craziness of the world. I’d poke my head in his office at the end of the day, he’d break out some whiskey or snacks, and the hours would fly by.” One day in June 2017, Daniel suggested happy hour, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Stephanie remembers, “At the end of the night, he asked me out!” She said yes, of course, and the rest is history. 

The pandemic foiled Daniel’s plans for an Amalfi Coast proposal, but he still got down on one knee. “In September 2020, Daniel, his sister, Celine, and I went hiking at the Great Sand Dunes in his home state of Colorado,” Stephanie shares. “Daniel dropped to one knee, Celine snapped shots, I said yes, and then everyone played in the sand.”

Sand would come into play for their wedding, as well: They envisioned “a romantic, chic, and relaxed celebration in the desert,” Stephanie says. “I first fell for Palm Springs while living in LA. I wanted to show it to Daniel, who immediately flipped, too.” While on a trip there for Modernism Week, they toured The Lautner Compound and fell in love. “We loved that it felt like a private home, but outside,” Stephanie says. “It was perfectly mid-century modern, with gorgeous decor, beautiful views, and plenty of nooks and fire pits for people to curl up and have conversations. Daniel and I are big concert fans, especially when they’re outdoors. We wanted to recreate that feeling—drinks in hand and dancing under the stars.”

They did most of their planning via email and phone calls with vendors. The couple is based in Brooklyn, but wanted to lean on local businesses where they could. “Supporting local and independent creatives is super important to us, and we wanted to reflect that with our celebration,” Stephanie says. “Weddings are expensive, and we felt like this was a great opportunity to make an impact in our own little way. Most of our vendors were either women- or BIPOC-owned businesses, and we specifically requested inclusive staffing when possible.”

Read on to see all the mid-century details of their April 30, 2022, wedding in Desert Hot Springs, California, planned by the couple and photographed by Kayla Mendez Photography.

Both the bride and groom are uber creative—Dan is a product designer and photographer; Stephanie is an Etsy copywriter and theater artist. So, it makes sense that they poured their heart and soul into the more creative aspects of wedding planning, beginning with the invitations that Dan designed himself. Their jumping off point was a unique palette of emerald, pink, black, white, and copper. 

“I used the wedding as an excuse to pamper myself a little bit,” the brie says. “So, for a year before, I went for monthly facials at Glowbar.” Getting ready day-of in a chic pajama set by Sleeper, Stephanie aimed for a look with “sunkissed skin, effortless hair, and a bold lip,” she says. “I wanted to rock a deep, dramatic lipstick—a tiny bit of edge to the softer dress and shoes.” She found her perfect shade in Lisa Eldridge’s Velvet Jazz.

Stephanie was looking for romance, drama, and sleeves in a wedding gown. Social media led her to her perfect match. “I saw the Alena Leena Armeria gown on Pinterest and instantly saved it as inspiration, not knowing the designer, season, or cost,” she says. “I came across it again while doing some Google research and then again on Instagram—kismet! After trying on a few other styles, I couldn’t stop thinking about this dress. The closest boutique that offered it was Wander Atelier, so I drove over, tried it on and that was that. I got it the same day.”

She accessorized with a veil, earrings, and clutch sourced on Etsy, plus some girlish additions: “A silk ribbon for my hair from A.B Ellie, sunglasses from Free People and sandals by Ted Baker—they’re pink, comfortable, and I adore them.” Her desert-inspired bouquet showcased anthuriums and king protea.

Dan began his day with brunch by the pool, then relaxed with a glass of Japanese whiskey and his closest friends. “The whole group hadn’t been together in the same room in 12 years, so memories were shared and hugs were had,” he says. When it was time to suit up, he donned a custom tux with pink silk lining and his initials sewn onto the inside breast pocket. “Dan also custom-designed his wedding band with a New York City jewelry maker,” Stephanie says. “Both his band and my engagement ring have hidden engraved messages.”

It was a surreal mix of past, present, and future; a feeling I’ll remember forever.

Stephanie and Dan used their first look to exchange the private vows they’d written to one another. “It was a top moment of the day,” Stephanie recalls. “I was so excited and anxious to see Dan, and as soon as our eyes met, we both teared up.”

“We each had a personal priority for the wedding,” Dan says. “Steph’s was the music—her dad played piano—and mine was the photography. I enjoy street photography as a hobby, and grew up with all of our family wedding photos decorating the walls. I definitely wanted candid shots, but I also wanted timeless portraits for our great-grandkids to look back on and smile. So, during our first look, I asked Kayla to capture photos of us in one of the Lautner suites. It was a surreal mix of past, present, and future; a feeling I’ll remember forever.”

“An asymmetrical floral installation was mounted to a white concrete breeze block, with baby’s breath, textured foliage, and single-stem blooms,” Stephanie says of the romantic ceremony decor. Guest favors were all about beating the heat. The couple provided parasols, fans, and individual face misters at the seats. “The groomsmen assembled the facial mists for the guests: cucumber and peppermint essential oil with water, poured into amber spritzers.”

Stephanie’s dad passed away when she was 7, so her mother walked her down the wedding aisle. The tune? Vitamin String Quartet’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” 

“Dan’s uncle Roger was our officiant, and we worked on the ceremony together,” Stephanie says. “We loved the ideas he brought to the table and the wine ceremony was a beautiful highlight. We had a moment of silence for loved ones who couldn’t be there, and Roger told us to take a beat to look out at the people who came all this way to be with us.”

The newlyweds recessed out to “Midnight City” by M83. “Right after the ceremony, the wedding party and our photographer went to snap some shots outside of the venue,” Stephanie says. “Having a little time to laugh and unwind with friends before rejoining cocktail hour was lovely—and made for some of my favorite photos.”

‘Mr. and Mrs. A’ is a loving family reference with a bit of history, so it sparked a lot of smiles with his relatives.

“The venue gave us the opportunity to custom create the day and we took full advantage, selecting the tables, chairs, tableware, all of it,” Stephanie says. “The reception’s floral design was minimal with soft tones, Ikebana-style arrangements with bud vases and pin frog arrangements, and taper candles.” They opted for copper silk napkins and blush-toned plates. Etsy was a major resource for the accents, from table numbers to the custom neon sign. “The neon sign was our favorite decor piece. We love to geek out over fonts, especially Dan. And, ‘Mr. and Mrs. A’ is a loving family reference with a bit of history, so it sparked a lot of smiles with his relatives.”

The couple chose “I Belong to You” by Lenny Kravitz for their first dance. “Our first dance and all the dances throughout the night were favorite moments,” they share. “We love to dance—at home, on nights out, with friends, everywhere. We may not always be the smoothest, but we enjoy it so much, and seeing our loved ones shimmy alongside us was pretty special.”

Signature drinks paid homage to the couple’s favorite cities and spirits: “Yuzu Penicillin (Tokyo and whiskey); Sunchaser (Mexico City and tequila); and Rosemary Bennet (London and gin),” Stephanie describes. Dinner was a gourmet take on street tacos, with tortillas hand-pressed on-site, al pastor, mahi mahi, and more. For dessert, there was an assortment of treats, including cupcakes, cheesecake, and—Dan’s favorite—cannolis. 

There was cake, too. The two-tiered vanilla butter naked cake had espresso buttercream filling and was decorated with florals and textured foliage. 

The goal was to dance in the desert—delicious drink in hand—with each other and our people.

“The DJ spun disco, Beyoncé, salsa, and all eras of pop on vinyl and, at the end of the night, we all can-canned to ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra,” Stephanie says. “A big goal of ours was to dance in the desert—delicious drink in hand—with each other and our people.”

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