Wedding Inspiration: Bohemian Desert Vibes at San Jose's Mexican Heritage Plaza

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With a magic show, boba hour, a scribe to create a written record of the day, spoken word, and Tahitian dance, there truly is nothing this wedding did not have.

Which was apropos for Lily Tran and Mark Sebastian, a couple who was certain about their future together before they'd actually even met, and who went through several elaborate engagement plans before Sebastian finally surprised her with a ring in front of both their families at Thanksgiving dinner.


For their theme, Tran blended her loves of Joshua Tree's bohemian spirit and earthy hues with the midcentury modern architecture and furniture of Palm Springs. They selected the Mexican Heritage Plaza for its corresponding aesthetic—there was even a mini cactus garden onsite.

"The space itself is organically beautiful and had that desert oasis vibe we were going for. And we love the idea of supporting a nonprofit that is for the arts and culture," she says. Plus it was close to home, making it easy for guests, as well as for selecting vendors that are near and dear to them.

Most of the decor and vintage furniture was thrifted. Honing in on Palm Springs, they created a starburst backdrop behind their sweetheart table, used brass structures by Milo Baughman as a dessert stand, brought in peacock chairs, and placed flamingos on the lawn. Joshua Tree elements included a kilim rug, onyx and gold table settings with a cactus napkin ring, aztec chairs at their sweetheart table, and multiple lounges including one with Mexican leather chairs. Topping it off were the floral arrangements—lush, tropical blooms with king proteas, succulents, air plants, dusty vintage roses, and pampas grass. Lily wore a lacy, flowing number while Sebastian sported an emerald green tux to match her ring.

As a professional photographer, lighting was key for Sebastian. "We didn't want crazy party colors, so we washed the area with more subtle gradients based on the different colors you would find during a desert sunset," he explains. Plus, they had a whopping total of seven photographers for their big day, each taking one hour shifts. They also built a stage across the pond where they performed a choreographed dance, and Tran sang a song to his bride's parents.

Afterwards, the newlyweds noshed on Vietnamese and Filipino food to celebrate both their ethnicities, before playing a Vietnamese gambling game called Bầu Cua Tôm Cá on a custom-designed mat. By the end of the night, two conga lines had formed shifting off the dance floor, out of the pavilion, and into the courtyard.

Ceremony venue: St. Francis of Assisi

Reception venue: The Mexican Heritage Plaza

Photographer: Vivian Sachs Photography, Mark Chua, Hieusz Photography, Alex Bauzon, David Ho, Rogelio Barrera Jr., Rock The Image

Dress: Calla Blanche

Hair and makeup: Tiffany Purdy

Shoes: BHLDN

Bridesmaids dresses: BCBGeneration

Floral designer: Blissful Blooms

Lighting: Bwiebe Events

Wedding planner: Menage A Trois

Caterer: Phu Lam

Cake: Natty Cakes

Boba: Tea Lyfe Drinks

Ice Cream: Treatbot

Bartender: Prestige

DJ: DJ Quantum

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