Chic Weddings/Destination Weddings

Real Bride Diary: Our Wildly Fun, Intimate Baja Beach Wedding

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 7

We did it! We got married! We couldn’t be prouder for the party we put on, the friends & family we assembled and the life that Jack and I have cultivated together. Our wildly fun Baja beach wedding was a smashing success and all I want to do now is drag our fly group of friends around the globe for a never-ending celebration of love.

But that’s what makes it truly special, right? It was a memorable week that can never be recreated or rivaled.

Watching our forty friends & family members arrive from around the world to charming Todos Santos, México was so surreal. I got to wear my dream dress, dance down the aisle through the sand dunes with my Dad, say “I do” to the love of my life, party to our bud’s DJ set from start to finish – what more could a bride ask for?

There were boozy paletas, hot churros, mezcal, dogs, cats, turtles, whales swimming by, the Milky Way shining down on our beach bonfire. It was truly magic.

I’m so excited to share Corinne Graves tear-jerking photos (okay, maybe it’s just me crying) and if you want to catch up on all the planning it took to get here, you can read my full Real Bride Diary.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 64
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 69

Our Love Story

We met one night in our mutual friend Netty’s apartment in the East Village, NYC – it was love at first sight.

Within twenty-four hours we were on our first date drinking champagne & eating Japanese shrimp in Manhattan. Within two weeks I was drunk texting my mom that I was in love from my birthday at a Chinatown dance club. By the end of the month, we were on our first romantic vacation to sexy Atlantic City. The rest is history. Our years of traveling the world and loving each other has been the greatest joy of my life.

Our proposal? Here’s the short story: On vacation in Milos, Greece, we climbed a little mountain in the most picturesque village of Plaka to watch the sunset over the Aegean.

We reached the top, and while we were hugging Jack said “you know how I always tell you I want to spend my life with you…” and reached into his pocket. I gasped, he got down on one knee, we cried and laughed, I said yes. It was magic.

Read the whole story of how we met & Greek engagement details here.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 65
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 55
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 56
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The Dress & Attire

I knew I would be an A La Robe bride long before we ever got engaged. My hilarious wardrobe of silk slips, silk pants, silk shirts & silk robes needed the ultimate item: a sexy, bias-cut silk wedding gown.

My mom, two best friends & I went shopping in my hometown of Seattle where thankfully The Dress Theory stocked my favorite designer. The Claudette gown my mom and I had sent back and forth to each other for months arrived two days prior. It was the first gown I put on, and I never wanted to take it off.

Too lucky am I, that I got to meet with my designer Elizabeth at the beautiful Spina Bride in NYC and wear yet another one of her dresses to our pool party – the sparkling Angel dress.

Needless to say, Jack looked superfly in his dotted suit from The Kooples and beach-friendly Cole Haan loafers (which he’s trekking around in on our honeymoon right now!) He wanted a suit that stood out – it was so rad that he chose something with serious personality.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 3

Getting Ready

Wanting “beachy waves” I took a quick dip in the Pacific Ocean to wash my hair with salt water (thankfully supervised by lifeguard bestie Allyson). My superbabes arrived at the villa and we all relaxed in my suite with just the sounds of the crashing ocean waves and breeze flying through the drapes.

Surrounded by girls encouraging me to be myself, I went basically makeup-free. Netty dabbed a bit of Glossier blush & highlighter, Jenny threw in the lip balm and we called that good. Kendall gave my hair the perfect surfer waves.

Christina volunteered as tribute turning her bathroom into a sauna to DIY steam my dress (it worked!) The final touch was my tiara, a surprise choice from an Untamed Petals sample sale that I will cherish forever. Sparkling, delicate, understated – I don’t know what else to say except that it was perfect.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 2

The Destination

Hailing from Seattle & Texas, meeting in New York, and traveling the world together, we knew wanted a destination wedding. A “Pueblo Mágico”, Todos Santos is a chilled-out beach town in Baja California Sur void of any fussy tourists or resorts. Having spent a glorious week eating street tacos & drinking mezcal the year before, we knew this would be the perfect place for our ruckus party.

Plainly put, Villa Santa Cruz is the best venue in Todos Santos. We rented the entire stunning property for five nights, which allowed our guests to roam about the stunning villa, pool, roof deck, palapa and practically deserted beach. We watched whales swim by during our rooftop cocktail hour (and every other day!) and could see the Milky Way each night. We could not have chosen a more beautiful & special place to say our vows to each other.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 5

“For almost an entire year, Claire kept me from seeing her dress. She wouldn’t even let me see her try on other wedding dresses for work and had me unfollow Bridal Musings for the entire year. When Marko came over the beach dune, dancing with his daughter arm in arm, I saw my beautiful bride in her dress for the first time and I was overtaken with emotion. I even said to the entire group that “the dress was so her, and that she looked so perfect.” I’m embarrassed to have been so forthcoming but I could not hold back my excitement from the exhilaration of the moment.”

– Jack, favorite moments

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 6

Favorite Moments

I couldn’t wait to marry Jack. I envisioned the ceremony so many times and when the time finally came for my Dad and I to walk to the beach it was magic. The mariachi played while my Dad and I danced through the dunes to our friends and family who were waiting, basically glowing, in front of the ocean. It was overwhelmingly beautiful & every bit as joyous as I imagined.

Our best friend Roberta performed the most touching ceremony – filled with stories praising my favorite person, sweet words about us together and sentiments of equality that are ever-so-important to us. We spoke our own vows, sobbed, laughed, exchanged rings & had the most amazing kiss that I basically blacked out.

Declaring my love for Jack, hearing his vows and listening to Roberta’s kind & wonderful words will always be my favorite moment of our wedding week.

My Dad also gave a speech that moved us all to tears. Among all the sweet things he said, he had us all shouting “¡Viva México!” thanking the wonderful people who we are so grateful & honored to share America & our wedding memories with. It’s just one of the countless examples of why I’m so proud to be his daughter.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 63
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 14
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 15
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 21

The Photography

“Who’s going to photograph your wedding?!” was the first question every single person asked us after getting engaged. After photographing 80+ weddings in the last decade and never actually attending a wedding as a guest before, the search seemed a daunting task – until we found Corinne.

One of our first & very best wedding planning decisions – Corinne Graves was our dream photographer. We were charmed by her creamy, dreamy, film-like (& real film!) photos, but it was her chill vibes & like-minded attitude toward weddings that sealed the deal. All we cared about were candid photos of our day and beloved guests, and she delivered above and beyond what we ever could have hoped for.

I’m in a puddle of tears every time I look at the photos Corinne took of our wedding and we will never stop thanking her for the wonderful job she did. To see your wedding day through Corinne’s eyes is a beautiful thing.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 66
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 67
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 75
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 33

The Flowers & Decor

Villa Santa Cruz is naturally stunning, needing little in terms of decor. Being concerned about our impact on the environment, we did not want to buy disposable decor and spend thousands of dollars on flowers that would end up in the trash. So my bestie Christina and I spent our Wednesday as floral bandits, collecting bougainvillea, palms, and other wild succulents & flowers around Todos Santos.

Then came Hannah, our incredible stylist, coordinator & floral extraordinaire. She took our dreams of a wild, tropical scene to the next level – and all with basically a zero dollar budget. Using our collection and foraging more with my Dad on the day-of, Hannah created floral magic I never knew possible. Funky fruit decor spread across our family-style table, a wild arch of flowers surrounded us on the beach, and my dream bouquet came to life with a hibiscus from my best friend Netty – who wore a matching bloom in her hair.

Everyone needs a Hannah in their life. A fun, genuine, creative, scrappy, wonderful person who can take your wild dreams and make them happen in a foreign country in just twenty-four hours. Best of all, she was the perfect ally and friend to have in charge, allowing me to be my ultimate bridechilla. I only wish we hired her sooner & for more.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 76
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 25
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 27

The Friendors

For such a small wedding we hired very few vendors, most of whom were close friends or soon-to-be. Being a wedding photographer myself it was really important that our vendors knew they were truly welcomed guests, not wedding staff. Long before the wedding, we sent them all proper invites (our handmade Todos Santos guidebooks), gave them seats at our table and made sure they knew all the booze, food and dancing was for them. Vendors work hard to create your dream wedding and they should be treated with the utmost hospitality and care, you can read more on how your vendors should be treated here.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 32

The Important Details

Flying in from around the world, trekking down dirt roads and spending plenty to get to our wedding the most important thing to us was that we treated our guests to a good party. That meant excellent food, plenty of booze and the best DJ.

El Refugio Mezcaleria treated us to a to-die-for, family-style dinner of ceviche, poblanos en nogadas, mole, grilled fish with esquites and so much more. Being purveyors of the finest mezcal in México, the meal was paired with mezcal margaritas & special craft cocktails.

Then, our good friend Rene put on the best dance party we could have asked for. Having been tortured through endless “wedding music” playlists in my work life & seen many-a-party killed by bad tunage it was so important that the music be good and Rene killed it. We danced to plenty of funk, disco, trap, and even got to watch my mom dance to “Pop That Pussy”.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 31
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 85
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 82

The Cake & Desserts

My mom is an incredible baker, and as Jack stated, “no one would make a cake you’d love more than your mom.” Being the wonderful, amazing, talented person she is – she accepted the task flying to México with all of her ingredients (with a little emergency Texas vanilla delivery from my best friend Kendall), drying real pineapple flowers at home in Washington, baking in our villa kitchen and assembling it all day-of in her swimsuit – chill as ever. That’s my mom. It was a delicious, tropical coconut cake, and I hear rumors that people were stealing slices as guests walked away from their plates.

Having a massive sweet-tooth we also hired a churro cart to make fresh churros & a paleta cart with boozy paletas (sort of a Mexican popsicle or creamsicle). Jamaica and mezcal, lime & tequila, coconut and avocado – we had ten flavors for two-hundred paletas and every single one got eaten that weekend.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 86
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 84
Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 90

Advice to Other Couples

Throw exactly the wedding you want – don’t let anyone guilt you, convince you or sway you in any way to something that doesn’t represent the two of you – this is your celebration. You have one life to live that’s yours alone, so make it exactly what you want.

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 39

“At the end of the night, Roy Orbison’s “Crying” was the final song. I closed my eyes and we danced for the entire track, our minds and bodies connected like they would now be for the rest of time. Even with my eyes closed, it felt like all eyes were on us and that the moment was encapsulated like we were in a sort of beach themed wedding snow globe. When the song ended and I opened my eyes our friends and family were all there watching us as if they were the snowflakes in the snow globe fluttering all around us. That was a perfect ending to a perfect wedding. Then, we headed off to the bonfire to go look at the stars.”

– Jack, favorite moments

Real Bride Diary – Wildly Fun and Intimate Baja Beach Wedding of Claire Eliza and Jack – Corinne Graves 53

The Honeymoon

Guess what, we’re on our honeymoon right now! After we got back from Todos Santos, Jack and I sold our things, packed our bags and took off on an extended honeymoon that will take us months through Southeast Asia, Europe & beyond.

As I write this, we’re eating our hearts out in Chiang Mai, Thailand and by the time this publishes, we’ll be suntanning on the beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. Follow the honeymoon adventure on my own Instagram, adventureclaire.

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