A Chic, Black-Tie Wedding in a Desert Oasis


In May of 2014, Kelly Moorhead and Andrew Ellis both separately gave in to the pressure of their friends and finally signed up for Tinder. “Andrew happened to be within a 50-mile radius, and was the first person I swiped right on,” says Kelly. “Once we realized we had both attended USC and that Andrew lived two minutes away from my parents, it seemed too ironic to not agree to a date.” Though Kelly was hesitant, a meeting at a wine bar turned into five hours of nonstop talking and what seemed like love at first sight. A month later, Kelly went with Andrew to a friend’s birthday, where they were speaking to his cousin and her husband. “After a few minutes and funny looks between the three of them, they finally pulled up their group text and asked one another ‘Is this her?’ ” says Kelly. Long story short, back in 2012 Kelly had been approached by two strangers while eating at True Foods. They’d insisted she was perfect for their cousin, and snapped a group selfie with her to send to him. “Apparently I agreed to the set-up, but they’d failed to get my number so the date never happened,” Kelly says. The two strangers were Andrew’s cousin and her husband, and the cousin in question was, well, Andrew! “Whether it was a match made on Tinder or almost in True Foods, the stars aligned,” Kelly says.

Just over two years later, the couple was on a weekend escape to Kelly’s parents’ home in the desert in La Quinta, California, when Andrew suggested they make drinks and take them for a walk on the golf course. “As we were walking, Andrew started talking about how much he loved me, which was so sweet but was getting repetitive,” Kelly says with a laugh. “The next thing I knew, he was on one knee!” Back at the house, Kelly was surprised to find their parents there waiting for them with champagne.

Andrew and Kelly headed back to Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta, the same golf course where they got engaged, for their October 28, 2017 wedding. “It’s just far enough from our home in Newport to be an escape for us and our loved ones,” says Kelly. A contemporary black, white, and gold palette kept things chic, while the surrounding palm trees reminded everyone that they were, in fact, in California. Planned by Sterling Social and photographed by Jana Williams, you won’t want to miss this desert oasis celebration! Keep reading for more!

“We wanted our guests to feel fully immersed in our celebration and totally taken care of,” says Kelly. The couple curated welcome boxes to include all of their favorite things, from Maui onion chips (Andrew’s favorite) and Tate’s chocolate chip cookies (Kelly’s favorite) to playing cards for quiet moments and, of course, a split of rosé!

Andrew couldn’t help but tear up when he saw Kelly in her Vera Wang gown. “I tried on way too many dresses—nearly 100!—because I wanted to explore all the styles and shapes available,” says Kelly. “When I went back to Vera Wang for the second time, this dress was the one that felt the most natural to me.”

The groom donned a black Versace tux, paired with a boutonniere of white orchids and calla lilies. His groomsmen also wore classic black tuxes—and entered on a golf cart!

Flavored water awaited guests as they arrived for the sunny ceremony.

A low stage was set on a tee box, with the mountains and the sunset in the background. Lush planters filled with roses, orchids, and lisianthus softened the set-up, while rows of lucite chairs added a modern edge to the set-up.

“I am terrified of public speaking, and didn’t want to have to worry about writing my own vows for such a big moment,” says Kelly. Instead, she and Andrew exchanged letters the morning of the wedding that included promises to each another.

Guests found their table assignments displayed on lucite signs, surrounded by even more white flowers.

The reception took place on the lawn, with a mix of rectangular tables with white linens and round tables with black linens contrasting against the grass and hedges.

A glass runner was topped with low black and gold vases filled with anemones, roses, tulips, and calla lilies. Three black and gold bars surrounded the space, ensuring that no one would have to wait for a cocktail!

“My favorite detail was the acrylic menus, each hand-painted with our guests’ names,” says Kelly. Dinner included baked brie with caramelized apples and fresh berries, a duo of pan-roasted beef tenderloin and white sea bass, and a lavish collection of passed desserts.

Andrew and Kelly shared their first dance to “Marry Me” by Train, and their band had the dance floor packed all night. Suspended chandeliers, twinkle lights in the trees, and inviting lounge furniture turned the lawn area into a chic retreat.

The four-tiered wedding cake had layers of vanilla butter cake filled with various mousses—vanilla bean, white chocolate, strawberry, and lemon—all layered with fresh berries. “We also had tray-passed desserts, including mini crème brûlées, strawberry cake pops, mini candy bar cupcakes, and chocolate salted caramel tarts,” Kelly describes.

At the end of the night, the bride changed into a gold velvet dress by Michelle Mason before guests waved sparklers for the couple's exit (to the after-party!). “We definitely felt the love–and the sparks!–in the air,” Kelly remembers.

Wedding Team

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