Photographing weddings during a global pandemic has been a huge change of pace, but a surprisingly welcome one. Taking things slow and keeping gatherings small and intimate has allowed families to bond in ways I’ve never seen. And there was no shortage of that at Clair & Danny’s Brave & Maiden Estate wedding last September. I loved this place so much that I became a wine member myself haha!
From the breathtaking vineyard backdrop to Clair’s off-the shoulder, crepe Vera Wang gown. To the khaki and rose-toned florals, this wedding struck a high fashion note while creating totally timeless photos. Not to mention Danny’s tear-filled reaction to seeing Clair walking down the aisle is every woman’s dream! It was truly a family affair as they limited the guest count to 12 and Clair’s brother officiated the ceremony. They even had their friend bring along his classic 1958 Porsche 356 A Coupe for a few post-ceremony photos, which was so fun! I’ve included notes from the bride below about how they planned their day and what was most important to them. I hope her words inspire you if you’re planning your wedding right now!
From Clair, the bride:
I first set out to find my gown the exact same weekend the COVID lockdown was announced. My mom and best friend flew across the country to NYC for a weekend of strolling upper Manhattan with a side of champagne. Needless to say, our timing was not great! As bridal salons closed one after the next throughout the weekend, we spent our time bonding over fun meals and wine and plan B. Fast forward four months, I was quarantining in LA and decided to visit the initial designer I wanted to wear — Vera Wang. I knew instantly the first dress I tried was the one… a sleeve, bones!, off the shoulder, crepe… everything I was going for.
Going back, my husband Danny and I met in 2014 at a lively bar in LA. After 4 or so years of dating and a move across the country, he proposed last November. Right away, wedding plans begin; just as abruptly, COVID hits. After we postponed our initial big wedding plan, we knew we still wanted to get married in 2020. Because, love. Luckily, convincing the 12 members of our immediate family to fly out to the wine country of Santa Barbara in September wasn’t a super hard sell. For guests, we have truly complimentary families (or are they best friends?) complete with Danny’s three sisters and my three brothers.
We all stayed in the dusty cowboy-town but ever chic Los Alamos, CA, with our wedding ceremony at the jaw-dropping Brave & Maiden Estate winery in Santa Ynez. My brother who married us also gifted Danny with his custom tux for the wedding, and he looked the best he ever has. In fact, all the guests adhered to our unique color scheme and I couldn’t have dreamed up a more gorgeous group of people. As Danny’s sister put it, there were so many bonding moments during our small wedding weekend, it’s as if the “phillips married the pruetts.”
I know the silver linings of COVID can come across as cheesy, but in our case, we received a unique gift that would not have been possible at any other time in our lives. Ask anyone who attended and they’d be lying if they said it wasn’t one of the best weekends of their life!
Santa Barbara Wedding Vendor Team
Venue | Brave & Maiden Estate, Santa Ynez, CA
Photography | Jess of Cheers Babe Photo
Florals | Velvet Blooms
Coordination | Stephanie Wong
Video | Tiffany Lo
Beauty | Rozetree Bridal
Catering | Room Forty
Cocktails | Pharmacie
Dress + Veil | Vera Wang
Tux | Etre BespokeBride’s Ring | The Clear Cut