Inside Our Co-Founder Hillary Kerr's Exquisite Palm Springs Wedding
What separates a beautiful wedding from an unforgettable one? When Hillary Kerr, co-founder of MyDomaine's parent company, Clique Media Group, tied the knot with Jonathan Leahy, music supervisor for the hit TV show Girls, their event had all the hallmarks of a picture-perfect wedding. Kerr walked down the aisle in a lace Reem Acra dress, the venue overflowed with fragrant flowers, and the poolside Palm Springs reception glowed violet at sunset. But that isn't what makes Kerr and Leahy’s wedding stand out from the rest.
When asked about the big day, Kerr explains every aspect, no matter how small, has a story. Take, for instance, the dinosaur placeholders that peer out among the otherwise classic table setting. "They're a reference to the famous Cabazon Dinosaurs you drive by on the way to Palm Springs, as well as a long-standing joke about how the T. rex is my spirit animal," she says.
Then there's the platter of doughnuts from Cofax, a West Hollywood coffee shop the couple frequented when they started dating, and the custom gold pineapple stamp on the invitations, "a nod to the fact that we got engaged in Kauai," Kerr notes.
There's so much more to this wedding than seriously photogenic styling. It's full of personal jokes, bursts of quirk, and shared memories. Every detail has a unique backstory, and only when you know that story will you fully understand why the wedding of Hillary Kerr and Jonathan Leahy is one to remember.
Take a look at their stunning Palm Springs wedding, and discover the story behind every detail.
Guests gathered at the Colony Palms Hotel, Palm Springs, to find the venue awash with fragrant peonies and roses. "Holly Vesecky and the amazing team at Hollyflora created a super-lush backdrop of white peonies, garden roses, anemones, Sahara roses, camellias, camellia greens, and myrtle greens," says Kerr.
She notes that the archway where the couple exchanged vows was particularly sentimental: "We wanted a white birch archway, as this is the state tree of New Hampshire, which is where Jonathan grew up."
"While researching parties from the '40s and '50s, we found our primary inspiration in an unexpected place: a 1953 invite from the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council for a lecture on the structure of proteins and nucleic acids—I kid you not," says Kerr. The couple used this unexpected reference to create their own bespoke invitations with Lola Gonzalez, Clique Media Group's executive creative director of brands. "The simple format, blind embossed edge, and slightly creamy paper set the tone," she says.
The envelope also had a personal touch. "We chose a custom gold-foil pineapple stamp from Zazzle for our invites, a nod to the fact that we got engaged in Kauai, and worked with Calligraphy Katrina on all calligraphy for the wedding," says Kerr.
The couple enlisted the help of a wedding planner to oversee their big day. "We worked with Beth Helmstetter and her amazing team to plan the entire weekend, and they really brought our vision to life (and then some)," says Kerr.
Long baguette tables framed the Colony Palms Hotel pool, where the cocktail reception and dinner were held. Given the outdoor setting, Kerr says she was conscious of lighting. "I knew we have a group of photo-crazy friends, so the lighting was definitely something we considered quite a bit," she says. "We wanted something incredibly flattering and beautiful to look at too, and Beth came up with the idea of stringing crystal orb lights above the tables, which was lovely and an elegant update to the typical Edison bulb."
Lush garlands formed the table centerpiece, continuing the white floral theme of the event. "When it comes to flowers, I definitely come from a place of more is more," says Kerr. "Since we had such long tables around the pool, we liked the idea of having them swathed in flowers, with garlands and greenery spilling onto the ground in gorgeous excess."
Continuing the "more is more" floral theme, Kerr requested a thick bouquet of roses with hints of subtle greenery. "I love fat flowers and dense bouquets, and the Hollyflora team created a beautifully full bouquet for me," she says.
"We wanted the escort cards to be displayed in a subtle but beautiful way during cocktail hour, and this lovely floral arrangement offered a sweet way of doing it," says Kerr. Guests took to Instagram to share each photogenic touch, using the hashtags #imwithkerr and #letsgetleahyed.
"I adore an unusual place card holder and was delighted that Jonathan was game for my idea of having tiny T. rexes instead of something more traditional," says Kerr. "Our planners found these amazing gold dinos on Etsy via a custom order, and they completely delighted our guests."
The event might have seemed flawless, but the bride admits that not everything went according to plan on the day. "We didn't plan on having a wedding cake, but then at the last minute, we decided to add it," she says, opting for a chocolate and buttercream layer cake from Joan's on Third. "To be honest, we didn’t want a 'naked cake,' but that's what showed up, and we just went with it. [It's a] small reminder that you're not going to be able to control everything, and that's just fine."
CAKE IS SERVED:
Those close to the couple knew that the platters of doughnuts held subtle sentimental value. "When we first started dating, I was always trying to find the absolute best places in the West Hollywood to take Jonathan, and Cofax became one of our first favorites," says Kerr. "One of our top wishes was to have [pastry chef Nicole Rucker's] incredible doughnuts at our wedding, and somehow it happened. We ordered four kinds—honey sea salt, sugar, chocolate glazed, and honey corn flakes—and they were completely gone in minutes."
"Jonathan knows I love mezcal, so as a surprise for the wedding, he planned a mezcal toast with custom bottles he designed with Lola Gonzales," Kerr explains. "The mezcal is by La Palabra, which is a small-batch company based in Oaxaca, Mexico, that uses 100% organic agave, and it's amazing."
"One of my favorite details was the fact that Jonathan had a personalized drumhead made for the ceremony," she says. The drum was printed with the couple's monogrammed initials and later displayed for the guests to sign. "He also composed my processional song, which I heard for the first time as I walked down the aisle."
While it's clear that every detail of their wedding was carefully and thoughtfully curated, Kerr admits that one of the memorable parts of the evening wasn't planned. "One surprise we couldn't have ordered was the pink sunset," she says of the rich sorbet hue that doused guests in color as they chattered and dined. "It was extremely stunning, and looked like we'd filtered and art-directed the sky!"
Loved our co-founder's elegant Palm Springs wedding? Head to Who What Wear to see every fashionable detail from her big day.