Hope you all love a good helping of bright pink around here, because both of today’s posts feature a healthy dose of this fun, flirty hue. Not only are Calisa + Ryan the most fun couple who obviously have great style, the story of their heartfelt nuptials will give you a sense of just how significant their day at Casa Cody Inn in Palm Springs was. During their year of planning with Cotton & Oak Events, Calisa went through four months of chemo for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma + spent months recovering, so as you can imagine, their wedding was a celebration in so many more ways than one. Read their story as you peruse Ashley Steeby Photography‘s images below!
Calisa explains, My now husband and I were camping in Zion and hiking through the park the week before I was diagnosed, and I kept having what I thought were asthma attacks induced by elevation. That didn’t stop me from hiking Angel’s Landing, though; I was determined to make it to the top! On the way back from our trip, I met up with my best friends in San Diego. The coughing I experienced in Zion didn’t stop despite the fact that I was relaxing at the pool, and they very strongly urged me to see a doctor. One week, many tests, and a collapsed lung later, we found out I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Wedding planning was a welcome reprieve from the cancer experience. Looking at wedding venues is already exciting enough when you’re healthy, but those trips also served as a chance for me to get dress and out of the house while I was sick. That was really valuable at the time, even though it was hard. My fatigue was brutal at the time, so we could only see one venue every other week when I was feeling up to it—but we made it work! My husband was proactive about the preparation and planning and was very involved throughout the entire process, which was extremely helpful.
The bride calligraphed each of these escort cards on a trellis backdrop Ryan + his dad made, as well as cut, sanded, and stained the ceremony + reception signs.
They’d originally planned to get married in the summer, but ended up moving the date back to December of that year. It gave them more time to plan as she recovered, and she was even able to sport a pixie cut—no extensions needed!
Calisa and their friends + fam coordinated a musical performance with flutes, trumpets, violins, etc., and totally took the groom by surprise. Another fave moment was their first dance, which they rehearsed each week for a few months. Those weekly lessons ended up being the perfect form of therapy and recovery as she transitioned from chemo and into health. Calisa says, I had a lot of trouble moving after I finished treatment, and I literally danced my way back into being healthy! The shared experience of everyone we love surrounding us and singing at the top of their lungs while we danced to our favorite song wasn’t just the our favorite moment of the night, it was the greatest moment of our lives! It was so incredibly special and we absolutely loved it.
Finding the right wedding vendors was a must, and their wedding dream team was a huge support for them. If you’re on the hunt for a vendor team right now, be sure to check them out at the bottom of this post!
At first, they were concerned with how the tablescapes would look, since the sun sets at 5pm in the desert in December, so the reception would take place in the dark. Luckily, bright ivory + gold tables and twinkle lights created a magical ambiance.
We made one long family table and Wild Muse Floral created a gorgeous garland all the way down filled with greenery, florals, candles, and fruit. I was planning to custom calligraphy each guests place setting but my experimental project fell apart two nights before the wedding and I had to let it go. Knowing this and wanting to surprise me, Katie (Cotton and Oak Events) placed big bougainvillea blooms and fresh rosemary on every single plate to bring a more organic feeling to the tables. The combination of flowers, candles, and greenery was truly stunning! Katie came and stole us to have a special sneak peek of the space before the reception started and I almost cried. It was everything I had imagined and more; they truly brought our dreams to life.
My illness changed our relationship with our guests and the event, too! It was a celebration of love and life in the truest sense, and for me, it became a way for me to show my love and appreciate to the family and friends that helped us get through such a difficult time. I learned calligraphy while I was sick, and I hand addressed all of the invitations, seating assignments, wedding signs, guest welcome boxes, and wedding party cards. Every detail was truly an act of love and a thank you gift to our guests; once we decided that was our priority, everything fell into place and stayed in perspective (for the most part—I certainly had my moments stressing out over details like any bride!). But every time, our wedding planners were right there, holding our hands.
So much of the planning process didn’t look like what I thought it would because I was sick; I didn’t even look how I thought I would by the time we got married! But it was absolutely the best day ever for both of us. We’re both immensely grateful and are still basking in the joy of it all!
Big thanks to our bride for sharing her story of strength and love, and congratulations to you both!
Photography: Ashley Steeby Photography / Videography: Martin Ngo / Venue: Casa Cody Inn in Palm Springs, CA / Planning & Design: Cotton and Oak Events / Florist: Wild Muse Floral / Rentals: Signature Rentals / Catering: Wheat and Fire Pizza & The Lime Truck / Cocktails: Mint Bartending / Emcee: Jordan of Invisible Touch Events / Signs, & Seating Chart: DIY / Altar: Friend, Dan Sawday / Bride’s Dress: Custom from Anomalie / Shoes: Sam Edelman / Bridesmaid Dresses: Nordstrom, Weddington Way, BHLDN, & Morning Lavender / Rings: Rosado’s Box / Groom & Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux & The Tie Bar