Modern Wedding at James Bond's "Diamonds Are Forever" Location

Michelle and Scott

Photographed by: Kerry Kara PhotographyLocation: Palm Springs, California, United States

No one will ever accuse Michelle Knoll and Scott Begg of being ordinary. Their first meeting was at a Halloween party on a junk boat in Hong Kong harbor. Scott and a friend arranged it as a front in order to meet two Texan sisters, but he and Michelle (who was invited by another guest) not only ended up hitting it off, they befriended the Texan who was supposed to be Scott’s date. When it came time to propose to Michelle, Scott’s plan was equally dramatic.

As he and Michelle sat on an enormous boulder on the property of a house they were building overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town, South Africa, Scott broke out a bottle of local champagne and revealed a South African diamond ring he had designed himself. With this kind of relationship history, it was almost incumbent upon the couple to have a distinctive wedding, and they met that expectation with flair.

Finding vendors to work within her strong vision was harder than Michelle had anticipated. She and Scott were not planning a wedding, they were planning “a fabulous party at which we would be married.” Once she found the right people willing to stretch the boundaries of what a wedding could be, she trusted their advice and heeded their guidance. She particularly enjoyed her working relationships with her photographer, consultant, florist, and caterer.

Instead of a theme, aesthetic decisions were made in keeping with Michelle and Scott’s preferred contemporary design style. Their perfect venue was the Elrod/Lautner Estate in Palm Springs, a spectacular example of renowned architect John Lautner and interior designer Arthur Elrod’s work made famous by its inclusion in the James Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever. With its industrial/minimalist style and hard edges, the challenge became to layer textures and materials upon the house that hinted at romance. This was accomplished by using a color palette of vibrant hues – scarlet, tangerine, saffron – that played off of the estate’s lemon yellow Dale Chihuly glass sculptures, by employing textures like silk and by introducing elements like water. The tablescapes and the floral containers were bold and sculptural, with no two arrangements alike. Tropical and desert flowers, particularly orchids, were in abundance.

Michelle’s knowledge of flowers comes from her mother, Phebe Knoll, a florist based in Florida. Michelle and her mother designed her wedding bouquet using Michelle’s favorite flower, the gardenia.

On her daughter’s wedding day, Phebe informed her that she had woven into the bouquet a tiny piece of ribbon from her own wedding corsage, symbolically blessing her daughter’s marriage with a keepsake that had lasted the forty-three years she and Michelle’s father have been married.

Michelle and Scott overlooked tradition for very specific reasons. Together for seven years, they were already living in their idea of a marriage and, since traditional ceremony language could not communicate what marriage meant to them, they wrote every word of their ceremony themselves. First, Scott delivered a “mission statement” about their lives together and where they were headed. Next, came a press conference-style Q&A. Ten guests had been given envelopes before the wedding and opened them to find questions inside that they posed to the couple. After they were pronounced married, Michelle and Scott asked their guests to surround them as they walked down the aisle and the photos of this giant “group hug” became the image on their thank you cards. Michelle and Scott also asked a beloved friend to become ordained in order to perform their wedding, an increasingly popular practice.

Amidst all the man-made beauty created for this event, the newlyweds and their guests were treated to a brilliant heat-lightning display illuminating the desert sky. Mother Nature, obviously impressed with what she saw, decided to make her own contribution to this most unique wedding celebration.

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