Tumbleweed Sanctuary Wedding - Joshua Tree, CA - Kristy + Chris


I absolutely loved shooting Kristy and Chris’ wedding at Tumbleweed Sanctuary this May! If you didn’t already know, I’m high-key obsessed with Joshua Tree. I even have a whole page dedicated to it! So shooting Kristy and Chris’ amazing day, filled with so much joy and connection, was a total dream. I never get tired of exploring more of this insane desert wonderland.


First, the two got ready in the nearby Airbnb, Serenity Escape JT. This little Airbnb packs a big punch, with a spacious, open floor plan and a pool/jacuzzi outside. The two got ready in separate rooms, and sent wedding gifts to each other: Kristy got Chris a ____ watch he’d been wanting, and Chris gave her the BOX jeweler earrings she’d been looking at! then had a first look in the adjacent field of Joshua Trees. But before that, Kristy had a first look with her dad which *may* have given me chills. Doing a first look with your parents can be so exciting and emotional! 

Kristy and Chris exchanged vows at Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden and Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite venues in Joshua Tree. The space is minimally decorated so that the landscape can really make an impact which I love. There’s a modern, metal, geometric arch in the ceremony site, but the rest can be really customized by florals and decor which is great! 

When we got to Tumbleweed Sanctuary, I saw that Kristy had picked out a handful of colorful, vibrant rugs to act as the aisle since she’d be walking barefoot! The rugs and the florals really pulled the boho-desert wedding theme together, incorporating reds, pinks, and greens with a touch of copper. If you like the idea of using rugs at your wedding, I love  this faded red, earthy one, and this rug that’s a little more vibrant burgundy. Mixing and matching is great because it keeps things from feeling too formal, but keeping a similar color scheme throughout brings the consistency to keep the couple the focal point, rather than the decor! If you’re going for a lighter color scheme, check out this ivory and blue rug instead. We used one of her rugs in the family photos before returning it to the ceremony site, which was perfect because it kept that same consistency throughout photos and added some personality to the family photo spot! The couple chose not to have bridesmaids or groomsmen, which worked perfectly since the whole thing felt SO intimate (about sixty guests total).

Tumbleweed Sanctuary is located in the Mojave Desert, in Yucca Valley, California. This venue is situated in a residential area with direct access to the peaceful desert. This means it’s the best of both worlds! Paved roads are not guaranteed at desert venues, and on more than one occasion I’ve known people/guests to get their cars stuck on a wedding day off of the sandy dirt roads in Joshua Tree. If you’re having more than 20 guests, Tumbleweed Sanctuary is what if you’re worried about ease of access! This is especially helpful if you have older or disabled guests, because the floorplan is designed as one story with ramps and handicap parking. Take a 360-degree tour of the venue here! Behind the building is the ceremony site, which backs directly up to gorgeous views of the mountains and desert. The property covers over eight acres of land and there are a few trails that you can walk on -- we used these for the sunset portraits for Kristy and Chris! The venue was about 20 minutes away from the airbnb, but it’s also close to other nearby attractions and amenities. Joshua Tree National Park is 11 miles away, Pioneertown is about 6 miles away, and the vibrant, manicured city of Palm Springs is just 30 miles away. 

After the beautiful ceremony, the family enjoyed cocktail hour with drinks from Mia’s Martini’s while we snapped couples portraits of the newly married duo! We took some romantic photos beneath the metal arch and around the ceremony site. She didn’t wear her veil (very similar to this one) the whole day, but we brought it out for a few pictures. She got it on etsy which I love - there’s so many great decor options and gift ideas on there for engaged couples planning their wedding! Kristy’s romantic, crocheted dress was by Lover’s Society - it was this one! I loved the scallop trim and the flowing, feathery pattern - it was somehow bold yet subdued, modern yet nostalgic. Totally gorgeous! Chris’ suit was by Friar Tux. I love how many different styles and options there are from this company! It’s such a contemporary, sleek suit that didn’t feel too formal for a desert wedding. It was just right!

Kristy lived in Hawaii for a few years, and the couple got engaged on the island of Maui while visiting for vacation. They went on a hike to Waimoku Falls in Hana -- but Chris got motion sickness on the way! When he popped the question at the bottom of the waterfall, he said “She began crying and repeatedly screaming “are you serious?” But he remained on one knee til she gave her answer (a big, resounding yes!) and stood up, only to realize he now had a bloody knee! Still -- a waterfall engagement in MAUI?! SWOOOOOOON. I loved the way she honored this part of her love and history with Hawaii by incorporating a floral lei crown like this.

After portraits, the couple made their grand entrance and toasts began (keep reading til the end for a little more on this part of the day). The toasts were super emotional and so sweet - first Kristy’s parents spoke, then Chris’ brother. Dinner was made by The Lime Truck which was super tasty (oh my goodness, that Mexican Street Corn + the Ahi tacos!). Sometime around here, the sun was setting and it was just too pretty - the videographer and I suggested to the couple taking a few more photos in golden hour and they were up for it! We walked around the Tumbleweed Sanctuary property for more shots of the desert environment. Once dinner finished the dancefloor was open! The couple had their first dance, followed by the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance. Supermoon DJ’s kept the crowd grooving + moving all night long. I loved when a bunch of friends came together to holler the lyrics of “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks into the night sky. 

When we first talked about their wedding, Kristy said she just wanted to remember her day as an insane outpouring of love from her close friends and family. I think you can tell from the photos that this day was exactly that! Their reception was lit by bistro lights beneath the desert night sky (Joshua Tree is known for incredible stargazing). Joshua Tree is actually recognized as one of the International Dark Sky Parks - an accolade it shares with the Grand Canyon National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Death Valley National Park, Big Bend National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Petrified Forest National Park, and a few others throughout the U.S. and beyond. P.S. If you want to see some work in Anza-Borrego, check out this engagement shoot I did this Spring there!  

Instead of cake, Kristy and Chris went for a more contemporary dessert option: DONUTS. Y’all, I love donuts - I even have a donut bucket list. This wedding helped me cross off one more: The LA Donut Truck! I’m a huge sweets person, but what I love more than any dessert is when couples really listen to their intuition! If you’re not a cake person, there are other options out there. Personalizing your day through things like this makes them so special and memorable. My personal favorite was the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Donut!

I’ll end this wrap-up of Kristy and Chris’ day by talking about something that really stuck with me. The toasts are ALWAYS one of my favorite parts of a wedding day and this was no exception! Kristy’s parents gave awesome advice to the newlyweds (followed by a toast from Chris’ brother), but the most memorable part for me was when her mom described their first visit to the Joshua Tree venue. JT is known for its bumpy, winding roads. Kristy’s mom said that sometimes marriage is like that too; sometimes it’s not easy, and you can’t always see where you’re going. But the end result - the immense beauty of whatever destination you’re going to, but more importantly, the adventure of traveling it together - makes it all worth it.

Full Vendor List:

Planning / Coordinating: Weddings by Sabrina
Hair + Makeup: Tanya Marie Hair + Makeup
Venues: Tumbleweed Sanctuary + Garden || Serenity Escape JT
Dress: Lovers Society
Suit: Friar Tux
Videographer: Matt Schuck Photography
Florals: Pinyon Pine Floral Design
DJ: Supermoon DJs
Catering: The Lime Truck
Staffing: Night + Day Productions
Cocktails: Mia’s Martini
Dessert: LA Donut Truck