From brides who grew up riding horses to urban cowboy grooms and country-lovin’ couples who can’t live without their annual tickets to the Stagecoach Music Festival, getting hitched in the rugged environment of a ranch offers widespread appeal.
Wide mountain views, open-air vows, and even a trail ride are part of the casual good times at a ranch wedding. If you’ve pictured sauntering down the aisle in your favorite pair of boots, you’re most obliged to wear them with pride at a one of these desert ranch event venues.
photos courtesy of smoketree ranch
Smoketree Ranch has offered rustic luxury since 1930.
As elegant as a ranch could be, Smoketree Ranch is known for legendary parties with a dash of down-home luxury. Forty-nine private cottages and a wood-beam ceiling dining room with stone fireplace combine with stables for group rides, in-room spa treatments, bike rentals, hiking trails, horseshoes, croquet, a fitness center, hot tub, and Olympic-size swimming pool for a weekend of family fun. Weddings at this 375-acre retreat that dates to 1930 are spectacular and authentic.
1850 Smoke Tree Lane, Palm Springs, (760) 327-1221, www.smoketreeranch.com
photo courtesy of regency ranch
A timber arch and small wedding chapel are two ceremony options at Regency Ranch.
The façade of a Wild West town encircles your event on 2.5 acres in the heart of the Coachella Valley at Regency Ranch. Couples have wed under the hand-hewn arch, inside the small chapel, and on the chapel steps for an outdoor ceremony with guests looking on. After cocktails in the saloon and dinner in the town square, enjoy music by a live band that takes the stage, set up a photo booth in front of the town’s jail, and mosey onto the open dance floor lined with bales of hay. Though the ranch doesn’t offer overnight accommodations, your list of up to 500 guests can catch some shut eye at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, or any of the nearby down-valley resorts.
Private address, (760) 469-4517, www.eventsdepartment.com/regency-ranch.html
Crazy Horse Ranch
photo courtesy of crazy horse ranch
Crazy Horse Ranch can insert a sunset or moonlight trail ride into your wedding.
Owned by a native of Wyoming who is crazy for horses, Crazy Horse Ranch is the real deal. The ranch’s wedding planner can round up a sunset or moonlight trail ride and a family-style barbecue dinner to weave right into your custom celebration for up to 50 guests. Newlyweds can hole up in the Carriage House and wake to breakfast on the ranch.
50440 Cheyenne Trail, Morongo Valley, (760) 831-6450, www.crazyhorseranch.biz
Genuine Draft Horse Ranch
photo courtesy of genuine draft ranch
Majestic draft horses pull the white wedding carriage.
Panoramic views across five acres of private ranch land await at this fairytale locale for up to 150 guests. Majestic draft horses pull the white wedding carriage, a fire pit crackles, and crystal chandeliers hang in the barn. Nestled in a high-desert canyon, the ranch offers a 25-foot, four-person swing for playful photos, barbeque cookouts, and a well-stocked saloon where guests can play billiards or strike up conversations on bar stools topped with saddles. A rustic and romantic hideout, it attracts newlyweds who release doves at “I do!” and head up to the cozy “Love Nest” room over the barn when the party winds down.
49494 Elm St., Morongo Valley, (760) 363-1912, www.genuinedraftranch.com
Pioneertown and Pappy & Harriet’s
photo courtesy of palm springs life archives
Pappy & Harriet’s has all the western trimmings for a wedding from the grub to the music.
Not a ranch per se, this kitschy high-desert destination still ponies up plenty of Western ambiance. Pioneertown resembles an 1870s main street and was used as a movie and television set for the old Western films of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry in the 1940s and 1950s. Adjacent sits roadhouse restaurant and live music venue Pappy & Harriet’s, a high-desert watering hole icon since 1982. Together they offer offbeat possibilities for couples who are a little bit country at heart.
53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956, www.pappyandharriets.com
Lisa Marie Hart has been writing about weddings since serving as an editor at Bridal Guide magazine in New York City in 1999. Since 2006, she has been editor of the annual Palm Springs Life Weddings & Honeymoon Planner. Away from the laptop, she creates tiered cupcake stands for weddings and celebrations at www.highteaforalice.com
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