Chicks, we’ve shown you a lot of Joshua Tree marital memories over the years, and they’ve all been breathtaking, haven’t they? Like, literally, you go on Instagram and stalk all the #joshuatreewedding photos - it’s absolutely insane how many surreal snaps you’ll come to find. Yes, it’s a desert, and yes, it’s boho, but every single vow exchange, every single first kiss, every single couple capture shot in front of a frontier of Yucca palms is different and simply to die for. What’s crazy, though, is that starting your forever in one of the most cherished, unreal places in Cali isn’t exactly foolproof - in fact, it can be downright trying AF. So, you need a stellar team behind you, a team that’s going to rise to the occasion and ensure you have the best damn day of your lives - even if it’s not technically in the OG Joshua Tree. Lucky for all of you Mojave Desert dreamers, we caught up with Julia Lexx, a phenomenal destination fine art photographer - and she gave us sooo much intel on what it takes to make your own magic here… or elsewhere 🤫. Oh, and her photos, yah, they’re proof of that.
Who is Julia Lexx and why should she be #1 in your wedding rolodex?
Julia is a fine art wedding and family photographer and owner of Julia Lexx Wedding Photography company. She’s been trusted by hundreds of brides and grooms over the years, she’s shot weddings in Asia, Europe, and all over the U.S., and she’s also been fortunate enough to work with celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Ashley Benson, and Patrick Dempsey on special projects in the past ((maybe she’ll shoot Ashley and Cara’s wedding someday… just sayin’ 😉)). She has a degree as a professional MUA, with a classic and artistic design aesthetic, and she studied photography and graduated from one of the most popular photography schools in SoCal. You can say she’s pretty legit, especially with those extenuating credentials: a photographer with glam squad chops, too? Her brides be luckyyyy.
So, we chatted with Julia about shooting in Joshua Tree, and here’s what she had to say.
Why is Joshua Tree National Park an awesome place for photoshoots?
As a professional wedding photographer, I’ve always dreamt of witnessing a wedding ceremony photoshoot in Joshua Tree National Park. In my mind, this very location embodies beauty, extraordinary landscape, and exotic vibes all at once.
As if staring into a glimpse of time, the old west has settled at this moment, and the tones and subtle hues are illuminated by the gorgeous sun. The backdrop is earth simplified as nature with its splash of green and shades of brown. The couple are stars as they have spent time gazing into their life, their future, and each moment.
A mix of natural, vintage, and an unlikely pairing of bold tones of turquoise, burnt orange, and jadeite with dripping tapers and minimal florals create an elegant, yet not overstated tablescape. The table surrounded by a beautiful wood-strewn backdrop adorned with handmade macrame and dreamcatchers.
Imagine your sacred moment of the profession of love, under a 1/2 moon arch converted in the soft beige-toned, feathery, flower-head pampas grass. As the sun plays peek-a-boo behind the oversized stones, the earth orchestrates shadows that captivate and capture the love of two souls.
This is how I imagined this incredible wedding, and why I wanted to take part in such a wonderful ceremony.
Moreover, I also got inspired by this place when reading fashion magazines and viewing amazing images on Instagram from Joshua Tree weddings. I’ve been looking forward to having a photoshoot there for a long time until one day I finally got the opportunity to make my long-cherished dream come true.
Whoa, we could stop right there with all her descriptive, insightful prose. But, we’ll continue…
Is it possible to shoot a wedding in Joshua Tree National Park?
At first, I was super excited and even started thinking about the best angles and light to use, because I wanted to give my desert wedding photos this “Vogue” look. But, in reality, I should have been thinking about some things way more important.
This is the problem many photographers encounter, because sometimes the desired location can be restricted for photoshoots. Only if you have special permission are you allowed to work there. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to the beautiful Desert wedding ceremony.
However, I’ve found an easy solution. To get permission, go to the official Joshua Tree National Park website and fill out the NPS 10-930 Short Form. Once you’ve done this, wait for the instructions along with payment details. Yeah, you obviously need to pay for the Joshua Tree wedding venue. Usually, they charge $120.00; however, the cost depends on the size of the wedding and location.
Congratulations, you’ve got your permit, but hold on for a sec, you’re not done yet.
Cell reception is one of the things that never came to mind at first. Maybe if it was a love story photoshoot or a commercial shoot, there would be no problem with the no-signal situation. But for a wedding, this factor can be crucial.
You see, your team is huge: you as a couple, your parents, a few dozens of guests, an officiant, an operator, photographer, and perhaps some assistants, wedding planner, wedding coordinator. You all need a thread of communication - you don’t want anyone lost, delayed, or out of the loop.
Theoretically, you can solve this problem, by making a thorough wedding plan and informing everybody of the time, place, and other details concerning the I Dos. But, believe me, this day is a frenetic and nerve-wracking one, something can always go wrong. Thus, a mere call can change everything. Imagine forgetting something important at home; you’ll want a way to contact your VIPs and see who can help.
Long story short, you put your wedding at risk if there is no reception.
Don’t forget that Joshua Tree is a desert, so you’ll basically need to 🙏🙏🙏 for warm, sunny weather. And inevitably, the weather will come as a surprise. From heavy rain to unbelievable heat, strong winds to unexpected autumn chill – these are just a few of the usual variations in weather you’ll find in a desert.
You have no shelter in case of rain or strong wind; the sand can prevent you from seeing anything clearly, and can even damage your vendors’ sensitive electronics.
If you’re lucky and it’s hot outside, your makeup and hair may not survive the entirety of the wedding. It’s even hard to breath. So, if you invite your elderly relatives and friends to such a wedding, think twice about their health.
In Joshua Tree National Park, there are only a few places where you can shoot a wedding, including: Rattlesnake Picnic Area, Live Oak, Indian Cove Amphitheater, Hidden Valley Picnic Area, Split Rock, Quail Springs Picnic Area, and Cap Rock. That’s truly it.
Don’t assume that any interesting tree is yours for the [photo] taking; that being said, unusual rocks are usually pretty fair game. When you pay from the outset, you pay for seven places, not for the whole park. And some of them are actually closed from March to May, so you’ll want to check with the National Park’s rules on that.
So, how do you deal with all these troubles and limitations?
Two weeks before our desert wedding, we decided to rent a house via Airbnb. This house attracted us mostly because it had a true-to-form Joshua Tree outside, some real rocks, and an aesthetic that was palpably desert-like in its look. On top of that, the territory was not only a perfect place for our photoshoot, it was also a great pick for a wedding venue.
This saved us lots of time, energy, and money and solved all of the existing problems. What really surprised us was that the hosts said they have conducted weddings there in recent years. So, we did it. And did it successfully.
The High desert of the Yucca Valley is a poetic inspiration for the old soul and heightened senses. It brings forth the imagination through the vision of the vastness and the music of the Earth. One can almost hear the oud, a lute playing in the distance as the connective soul takes the form of love in this retro boho chic styled shoot.
Finding softness within the wild, the prickly and the adventure, High Desert Paradise is more than a beautiful wedding venue. It is a true paradise from the Joshua Trees to the budding cactus, and the rock formations surrounding the property.So, ultimately, I’d recommend that you don’t plan a wedding in the actual Park, but instead opt for a place like ours and get rid of any unnecessary stress and discomfort. On Airbnb, there are many houses that resemble the park.
What factors contributed to your fruitful wedding photoshoot?
The house fit well, thanks to its interior and exterior. There were also incredibly beautiful rooms to shoot the bride’s and groom’s preparations. Every detail, every glimpse, every emotion, and every gesture looked so natural and smooth, because of the outstanding and inspired atmosphere.
The team was super-cool, because Julia and Mike from SEJ Productions and Harmony + Nature Florals teamed up with me to mix paradise, passion, and an embracing mix of retro, boho, and chic set in the stunning backdrop of the High Desert of Yucca Valley.
I managed to capture important details and create magical images that evoke the wide ranging set of emotions of guests at a wedding. Out of my 4-year working experience in Los Angeles alone, I have been to lots of lust-worthy locations: the ocean, mountains, canyons, coasts, luxury apartments, libraries, churches, etc. But this desert photoshoot was a passionate goal of mine until June 2019, when I finally realized it, using all my talent to capture this unique occasion through my artistic vision.
I think I’ve refreshed the world’s desert wedding collection with my photographs, and am happy to share my experience with others who are planning to have a wedding like this.
Any special thanks to the rest of your dream team?
I couldn’t have made these desert dreams come true without the help of my faithful friends, Julia and Mike of SEJ Productions. We’ve been working together for many years and have always guided each other through difficult working conditions.
Their subsidiary company is Harmony + Nature Florals - floristics and décor studio - so they provided all the décor, flowers, and bouquets for the wedding. They also decorated the altar and the gorgeous grounds of the wedding location itself.
I loved working with this incredible team. They are not only professional, but willing to do so much more than just play their role. Every single person worked tirelessly to make this styled shoot a reality for me. Their huge hearts and couldn’t-be-curbed creativity made it all more than possible.
FOLLOW JULIA LEXX ON IG TO SEE HOW THIS FINE ART SHUTTERBUG GETS IT DONE
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