We Can't Get Over This Carefree California Wedding With Desert Accents at the Vintage Ojai Rancho Inn
Friendship blossoming into a romance is a rare thing that should be celebrated. When Emma Claffy and Brett Fairless met at an ad agency in Los Angeles, they clicked immediately. "We were friends for a year," Emma explains. At some point, the pair decided to head out on a first date. "We bonded over good coffee and stupid memes. Then, after six years of living and working together, we knew we'd both found our person." Brett popped the question before their first outing in the waning days of the pandemic. "I was getting ready when Brett told me there was more traffic than expected, and we'd have to leave a few minutes early. I frantically finished getting ready when Brett grabbed my hand and embraced me before kneeling in our living room and asking if I would marry him." Knowing how private his girlfriend was, he proposed at home before their intimate dinner on the town.
Following the engagement, there was some question as to whether or not the couple would host a wedding at all. "We weren't totally sold on the wedding idea," reveals the bride. "After discussing different options, we realized that although we're pretty introverted, we did want a celebration. The most important thing to us, other than getting married, was to bring our community of friends and family together." Brett and Emma designed a weekend getaway in the Southern California town of Ojai to give their nearest and dearest a bit of a vacation. "We traveled around SoCal, staying at various Motels and Inns, looking for a venue. We wanted a place to come back to year after year to celebrate our marriage. When we sat down at the pool at Ojai Rancho Inn, we both knew we'd found our venue."
The bride added her personal touch to many of the day's details, starting with the invitations. Per her profession, she designed the invitation suites and all of the paper goods used during the weekend. "The DIY item we're most proud of is our wedding favors," she tells. "I designed a custom bandana featuring illustrated details from our weekend, including cacti, florals, citrus and a portrait of the two of us and our dog, Billie." Additionally, the couple combined their talents to create a stunning wedding website featuring photos snapped by Brett, a professional photographer, and designed by Emma. "We even included a Spotify playlist to set the vibe!"
On their big day, the anxious pair elected to forgo tradition and get ready together. "I will never forget that," Emma shares. "We opted for no bridal party; we knew we'd want quiet time together before the festivities where we could focus our energy on each other." Brett helped his bride into her sleek gown by Sarah Seven while he donned a classic suit accented with a bolo tie. "We decided to have our wedding rings custom-made by our favorite local jewelry designer, Jennifer Sung of Gjenmi. Her pieces are so beautiful, and having our neighborhood represented on our wedding day felt so special."
The couple's floral designer created a stunning, bohemian backdrop at the laid-back ceremony: an asymmetric curtain of suspended-and-strung carnations and marigolds all bursting with bold color. Brett and Emma exchanged personal vows before their closest family and friends before leading their guests to their reception as husband and wife.
Attendees dined at long farm tables minimally adorned with desert-chic tones—goblets, candles and vases in burnt orange; clay pots in pale pink; green interspersed throughout in the form of succulents and wildflowers. Says the bride, "We used a mix of potted cacti, buds and various fruits for the tablescape. The fruit was such a great nod to Ojai's surrounding farmlands."
The event ended on a high note. "At the end of the night, when we felt so loved and supported by our community, we ran right from the last song on the dance floor to the pool and jumped in," remembers Emma. "It was so fun and oddly cathartic after a long and busy day." Brett adds, "Having the wedding at a motel with only our friends and family around created such an amazing environment. We saw all our favorite people whenever we were out of our room. I'll never forget the summer camp vibes of hanging out with everyone at the venue for a weekend."