Going To The Desert And We’re Going To Get Married

Nesta Cooper and Peter Van Auker threw a palm-fringed party in the Coachella Valley

Photography by ALICIA RINKA


The bride wore a gown and veil by GALIA LAHAV.


For Nesta Cooper, everything became crystal clear during a weekend getaway in Palm Springs with Peter Van Auker. “I do remember on that trip and looking at him and being like, ‘I’m going to marry this person,’” the actress recalls of their second official date. “We just stayed up chatting, listening to records, drinking wine, and having the most wonderful time.” Like so many great love stories, the couple originally met on a film set while making 2017’s #RealityHigh, a Netflix movie that Cooper starred in and Van Auker produced, but they kept things platonic until after the film wrapped in 2016—ironically, also when Cooper returned home to Canada. A long-distance courtship ensued with frequent visits, which ultimately led Cooper to move permanently to Los Angeles.

Three years later the actress walked into an art gallery in downtown L.A. for a supposed “work event” Van Auker had invited her to. A violinist started playing, prompting her to think it was an experimental art experience. “But when I saw that all the photos on the walls were pictures of us, I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s going to propose,’” Cooper recalls.


More than 100 guests gathered to celebrate the couple in the desert.


The couple wed in September 2022 before 115 guests on an estate in Coachella Valley—a nod to the Palm Springs–based pair’s love of the desert. “I wanted a modern-boho vibe, but still wanted it to feel fairy tale-ish and romantic,” says Cooper, who enlisted event planner Elana Walker to execute their vision while honoring their wish to exclusively use vendors whose companies were BIPOC-owned.

On a balmy early evening, the bride made her entrance in a Galia Lahav gown and was accompanied by her grandmother as they walked down the aisle to a live performance of “What’s It Gonna Be?” by singer Arlissa. For the reception, which was moved into a charming barn on the property because of an unexpected downpour earlier that day, guests gathered amid blush and nude floral arrangements and glowing lights as the newlyweds walked in while “Love” by Kendrick Lamar played. “That feeling of love had just penetrated the entire room,” says Cooper. “I just felt so held.” After the dinner, which featured highlights like miso cod and kale Caesar salad, the couple changed into their late-night looks for the cutting of the cake: Cooper wore an Et Ochs dress by Michelle Ochs and Van Auker switched into a pink pleated Thom Browne skirt. “I just remember thinking [his] mom was going to faint,” quips Cooper of the fashion-forward choice. “I thought he looked so handsome, and he felt so good in it.”

The affair continued with flowing signature drinks (honey gin cocktails and spicy margaritas), good tunes, and poolside dancing, and when the hour turned late, Cooper unwound with a long bath while Van Auker sat beside her. “I recall settling into a certainty and a certain level of safety,” says Cooper. “It was just perfect.”


The ring is from XIV KARATS in Beverly Hills.


LEFT: Margot Robbie and her husband, Tom Ackerley, were guests at the wedding. RIGHT: Alfresco cocktail hour.


The camera-ready bride.


LEFT: “Nesta elevated the design by adding artwork from local female artists,” says event planner Elana Walker. RIGHT: The cake was by Heather Wong of FLOURING LA.


The newlyweds.


Makeup: Emily Cheng Makeup
Bride’s hair: Lidia Martin
Event Production: Elana Walker Events
Stationery: Steffany Wilson
Cake: Chef Heather Wong/Flouring LA
Catering and Drinks: F10 Catering
Groom’s Tux: Thom Browne
Flowers: Rogue & Fox Floral Co.
Lodging: La Quinta Resort and Club



Feature image: The bride wore a gown and veil by GALIA LAHAV.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of C Weddings.

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