Though Samantha Killeen and Matthew Lippman may have lived on the same floor during their freshman year at Union College, it was a shared knee injury that brought them together. “We started talking, realized how similar we were, and became instant best friends. Our timing wasn’t ideal because school was almost out for the summer and we lived 3,000 miles away from one another, but the infatuation was strong, and we spoke every day, all day, all summer long,” shares Samantha. “Once we got back for sophomore year in the fall, we saw each other and that was it – we never looked back.” 

After several years of dating, Matthew knew he wanted to propose to his sweetheart, but first he needed her family’s blessing. “Asking them wasn’t as scary as people make it, but that may also have been because I’d known them for eight years already,” he admits. “I called them one day and laid it all out there. They responded, ‘We’ve been waiting for the call, Matthew.’” The next step was the ring. “I love jewelry that has meaning to it – pieces that are passed down, so it is just that much more special,” explains Matthew. He asked his mother if there were any family heirlooms and was touched to receive her engagement ring that his father used to propose decades prior. The diamond was then set in a design Matthew thought Samantha would love. 

Though he initially intended to pop the question on a ski trip, he decided to wait until a weekend when the couple went to his family's vacation home in La Quinta, California so both families could join in celebrating. On their way to a nearby fruit stand that Samantha loves, she noticed watermelons lining the path, carved to read “Guess what? I love you” and leading to a display of apples arranged in their initials and another watermelon with “Will you marry me?” on the side. 

“Matt got down on one knee and pulled out the ring. I of course said yes, and we popped Champagne and had a mini celebration with just the two of us,” the bride reveals. She tried to call her family to share the news, but no one would answer. When the newly affianced couple arrived back at the house, Samantha was shocked to see both her and Matt’s families there to congratulate the pair with a celebratory brunch, complete with beautiful displays of peonies, the bride’s favorite flower. 

“I couldn’t stop smiling, and I never wanted the entire weekend to end.”

The groom hoped for a destination wedding, but Samantha was worried about the logistics of planning such an event from afar. As a compromise, they decided a desert wedding – just a few hours from their Los Angeles home – was the perfect solution. After all, it’s where they got engaged! When it came to organizing the big day, Matthew stayed involved, as did both of their families. “Plus, nothing was possible without our wedding planner Alyson Fox [of Levine Fox Events],” adds the bride. 

The La Quinta residence owned by the parents of the groom made for a picturesque setting and informed the look of the fête. “The house is modern with clean lines, huge glass windows, and a white/neutral palette with pops of color. Matt had always dreamed of a glass-like tent, which fit the vision, so we used that as inspiration as well,” Samantha illustrates. A large structure created by Revelry Event Designers was wrapped in a lush serpentine of florals and greenery for the striking chuppah. 

The couple exchanged vows on an elevated stage with a stunning vista of trees and mountains behind them. Bridesmaids each clutched a different bridesmaid bouquet featuring single-variety compositions of either roses, tulips, lilacs, ranunculuses, miniature calla lilies, spray roses, or freesia. The bride was wonderfully surprised by her florist who successfully secured peonies in order to make her dream bridal bouquet, allowing Samantha to carry her favorite flower on the big day. 

The elegant and modern aesthetic continued to the cocktail hour, with draped pergolas around the pool. As the sun began to set, guests moved into the reception tent, which showcased a unique lighting installation throughout the ceiling overhead. Accents of gold and pink popped against the mostly white color palette for an elevated look. Lucite wedding elements – including in the cake – kept the design contemporary. 

In lieu of a first dance, the live band got the celebration started right away, followed by an after-party inspired by the Neon Carnival at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Bright colors, LED lights, and a popular DJ kept revelers dancing until 2AM. Reflects Samantha, “I couldn’t stop smiling, and I never wanted the entire weekend to end.”