It was definitely not love at first sight for Claire Ripsteen and Eric McBride. The couple first crossed paths at the wedding of mutual friends in October 2013—but at the time, Claire admits that she was "less than interested." (Eric may have had a little too much fun that night!) But after encouragement from the newlyweds, Claire and Eric (two of their single friends) reconnected on Facebook in March 2014, and were soon messaging, then texting, and then chatting before they realized that, yes, something was there. The only problem: Claire was living in California, while Eric was in Delaware. "Long distance had been something we’d both tried to avoid, so a 3,000-mile distance barrier seemed daunting," Claire says. "Nonetheless, we fell for each other! So after a few months of back-and-forth trips, it felt like the easiest decision ever when Eric packed up his car and his beloved dog, Etta, and we drove cross country all together to move him to L.A.."
After settling into Los Angeles, the couple continued their relationship there—and even bought a house—before Eric popped the question at Claire's favorite bar on her birthday, September 23, 2016. "Eric got down on one knee and proposed in a massive backyard full of random 20-somethings," she recalls. "All I remember saying was “F*#& yes!” and then a few of my closest friends jumped out of the bushes and started celebrating with us. It was an epic night." Of course, the couple chose to marry in Los Angeles as well, and found Big Daddy's Antiques, an authentic shop that doubles as an event venue, as the place to house their 205 guests. "We stumbled upon it almost by accident, but walked in the door and knew it was perfect," Claire explains. "Our relationship is a lot like Big Daddy’s, which has some of the most unique, priceless antiques in town but also some of the funkiest, downright strangest odds and ends you’ll ever find anywhere." From there, Eric and Claire—who works in marketing at Marvel—started planning a wedding that was eclectic, creative, and authentically theirs. "The aesthetic that we worked with our wedding vendors to create was very calculated," she explains. "One could even say it resembled one of the marketing campaigns that I do in my job, though Eric didn’t know how it all connected until he saw it until our big day and the centerpiece for the whole 360: the wedding dress!"
Keep reading to see Claire's dream dress (hint: it's floral!) and more of the couple's amazing Los Angeles wedding, as photographed by Caleb John Hill, below.
As mentioned above, Claire's dress set the tone for the entire wedding. And it's really no surprise why! "I had fallen in love with an evening gown at Monique Lhuillier months before that was covered in embroidered, colorful flowers," she says. "I bought the sample and immediately started working with all of our vendors on a vision that all connected back to the colors of the dress; the idea of iconic, historical Los Angeles; the antiques of Big Daddy’s; and hints of our witty, sarcastic spirit."
The bride paired her dream dress—"I felt like a million bucks in it the minute I put it on," she says—with fire-red Louboutin heels (and later, Chuck Taylors!), a watch from Eric, and her grandmother's aquamarine ring as her "something blue." The final accessories? "My engagement ring and wedding band are my maternal grandmother’s from her wedding," she says. "My grandparents were married for 69 years."
The bridesmaids wore shades of blush (as to not clash with Claire's colorful gown), but the bride let them go rogue with their shoes. "I said, 'Wear the most Claire pair of shoes you own,' " she says with a laugh.
The groom wore a navy Indochino suit, lined on the inside with a blue-and-white floral print and embroidered with their wedding date. He wore his new Omega watch—a surprise from his bride!—and gifted each of his groomsmen a Timex watch.
The ceremony took place outside the vintage shop, where the couple worked with their florist to add touches that only complemented the space's existing decor. The couple also served beer, bubbly, and popcorn as guests arrived!
In addition to bringing in flowers and foliage, the couple utilized objects (such as lanterns, and an oriental rug placed below the chuppah) from the antique shop itself.
The couple's dog acted as their flower girl, and they personalized the ceremony by writing their own vows (Eric's quoted Apollo 13). After their first kiss, the newlyweds exited to Tupac's "California Love."
Claire and Eric put twists on classic traditions like bar signage and escort cards, adding funny expressions and special illustrations (such as a nod to their love of dinosaurs). "Literally every single detail of our wedding, from the decor to the food to the music to the ceremony had to relate back to who we were, why we loved each other, and why we were having a wedding in the first place," Claire explains. "if our love wasn’t shining through every step of the way, then we knew were doing something wrong!"
Reception tables were set with gray linens, white plates, gold flatware, and low floral arrangements. "It all came together for a funky, industrial-yet-romantic, fun-yet-sophisticated reception," explains the bride.
When they dine out as a couple, Claire and Eric love sharing small plates rather than two entrees so they served just that (alongside surf and turf) at their reception.
At the end of the night, the newlyweds posed for a group shot with all of their loved ones. "As you plan, remember why you are getting married in the first place: because you love each other, and want to spend your lives together," Claire advises. "Sure, a party is great, but if the love you have for each other stays top of mind the whole time, then you and your fiancé can get through anything that may come your way in the process."
Venue: Big Daddy's Antiques || Wedding Planner: Tricia Dahlgren Events || Officiants: Daniel Slipakoff & Ira Rosenburg || Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Bride's Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair: Christina Gonzalez || Makeup: Erica Casillas || Groom's Attire: Indochino || Floral Design: White Fig Designs || Invitations & Paper Products: Sloane Harmony Designs || Entertainment: DJ Donald Glenn || Catering: Huntington Caterers || Cake: Susie Cakes || Photo Booth: Shutterbox Photos || Videographer: Sun Beat Films || Photography: Caleb John Hill