Alison Eddy and Ryan Willingham first met at a black-tie Christmas party in New York. “He spotted me on the dancefloor, introduced himself, and we danced the night away,” she remembers. “Ryan may have lost his bowtie that night, but he managed to get my number!” The two quickly hit it off, and after only a few dates, Ali half-jokingly invited him to spend New Year’s Eve with her and her family at their home in La Quinta, California, which is just outside of Palm Springs. “I didn’t think he would actually come,” she says. “But as I was sitting at my desk one morning, I received a screenshot of his flight confirmation!” The two rang in 2015 together and little did they know that only a year later, Ryan would be asking Ali’s dad for her hand in marriage.
Of course, when it came time to decide on a location, La Quinta was at the top of the list. The two settled on La Quinta Resort & Club, a hotel which was originally designed as a hideaway for the Hollywood elite. It’s built on a series of adobe bungalows and features 45 acres of fruit trees at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains. In the 1920s, regulars included stars like Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, and Frank Capra.
“When we were looking for venues, I loved that the resort was self-contained and offered casitas so our guests could all stay near each other and hang out at one of the pools, restaurants, or enjoy the numerous outdoor activities that the resort offers,” says Ali. For the decor, Ali wanted to mix the whimsical vibe of California with the old Hollywood glamour of Palm Springs. She worked with Beth Helmstetter Events, and seamlessly fused the two aesthetics together. “The twinkle lights densely strung throughout the clear-top tent brought the old Hollywood look to life, and the lemons, which were used as escort cards and table décor, were a nod to the cheerful California spirit I wanted to capture.”
During a visit to Bergdorf Goodman’s bridal salon, Ali discovered Colombian wedding dress designer Francesca Miranda and fell in love with one of her dresses. “I didn’t want to take it off, and that’s how I knew we’d found it,” she says. The dress was made of Guipure lace, with each flower cut out and then hand embroidered over tulle. “It made it extra special that I was able to meet Francesca the day we found the dress, and she was also there for my final fitting,” Ali adds. She completed her look with Jimmy Choo wedges, her mother’s sapphire stud earrings (something blue and something borrowed!), and a ring her dad had given her on her 25th birthday. Makeup and hair was kept natural and pretty—just a little bronzer and petal pink lips.
The day of the ceremony, Ali and Ryan tied the knot at La Quinta’s golf course, under a floral arch made out of white roses, and with desert mountains and palm trees serving as a stunning backdrop. An avid golf fan, Ryan requested the Masters theme song for when he and his groomsmen took their positions (“His one wedding request”), while Ali and her bridesmaids walked down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. Ryan’s uncle, Reverend Doctor John Willingham married the couple. “His homily was one of my favorite parts of the weekend,” she says. “In fact, I was so excited that when he was reading the vows, I said ‘I will’ before he was even finished reading them!”
After they were declared husband and wife, the couple and their guests moved to La Casa, an area in the resort used for private events, for dinner and dancing. Ali’s matron of honor kicked off the toasts, followed by Ryan’s father, and then Ali’s dad, who said to Ryan: “I always wanted to give Alison the world, now it’s your turn.” Later on, when it was time to cut the cake, Ali also addressed her guests and thanked her father by saying that tonight felt like she had been given the world.
When it came time for the first dance, the newlyweds chose “This Will Be (an Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole. “That was actually the first decision about the wedding we made—even before we knew the venue or date,” Ali shares. “Before the wedding, we purchased a four pack of dancing lessons, which was quickly upgraded to an eight pack.”
After the reception wrapped, Ali and Ryan continued celebrating with an after party that featured a DJ and an In-n-Out truck. “A lot of our guests were from the East Coast and hadn’t experienced the delight that is an In-n-Out burger,” she says. It’s probable that they might have worked up an appetite after dancing for hours on the black and white checkered dance floor. “The only guest who wasn’t on the dance floor at all times was one of my bridesmaids, who was sadly on crutches. ” she says. “We loved it when our ten-year-old niece stole the show with an enthusiastic performance on stage to Taylor Swift!”