From a Romantic NYC Bridge Proposal to a California Vineyard Wedding; Briana + Donovan’s Love Story

As seen in the Munaluchi Fall/Winter 2016 Issue. Purchase a copy here.

SCENE: On a crisp, fall day amid the lush, rolling-hills of The Léal Vineyard in Hollister, California, surrounded by dozens of guests, Donovan stood awaiting his bride. As she glided down the aisle, gorgeously dressed in white, Briana smiled as a single tear fell down her cheek. As he watched his future wife approaching him at the altar, Donovan broke into tears. Neither cried in sadness; in this case, their tears served as the words that their hearts could not speak.

Donovan and Briana started as just friends. The pair met at a holiday party at the posh, art-filled Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City. And after a long-term friendship, on a random day, love's kismet energy caused an unexplainable spark to ignite within the two. “One day before he put me in a cab home, we hugged and something came over the both of us. It was a feeling that, to this day, we can't quite describe,” shares Briana. Needless to say, the two began dating shortly after, developing a suitable rhythm that allowed them to build a deeper friendship and companionship.

After a year-and-a-half courtship, on Briana’s birthday, Donovan decided to take her across the Brooklyn Bridge. As the two strolled the historic overpass - one that not only links Manhattan and Brooklyn, but one that also serves as a symbolic link between the couple and the growth seen in their relationship - Donovan stopped in his tracks. Positioned in the middle of the bridge, Donovan then proposed to Briana. “Of course, I was overjoyed, in tears, and beyond surprised. After standing there for a bit, we decided to walk the rest of the bridge,” says Briana.

Once reaching the bridge’s “love-lock” section, which contains dozens of etched padlocks from other love-struck couples, the pair stopped to pray, and later ornamented the bridge with a little piece of their love by attaching their old commitment rings to the bridge. “As we were wrapping up, a gentleman approached us and asked if he could take a picture and interview us for The New York Times. We agreed, and a week or so later, our picture along with a bit of our story was in the Times! It was a pretty exciting day!” shares Briana.

The pair wed on October 25, 2015. Briana donned a gorgeous, trumpet-style Pronovias gown that not only provided sentimental value as her wedding dress, but also shared the same name as her grandmother, Mildred. Likewise, the dress was made in Spain, which is where Donovan’s grandmother is from. Even, her sash-belt accessory held value as it was created by Traci Gege, whom she affectionately refers to as her “sister-friend”.

Keeping in formation with their picturesque vineyard venue, their decor featured hints of romantic-rustic elements as spied in the warm hued florals accented with vintage crystals and pearls, a soft-simplistic color scheme, and wine barrels sprinkled throughout that were creatively used as a form of decor. A sequined table cover perfectly placed on their couple’s table added a hint of glitz, while the cork “Love” sign lended an appropriate finish.

The pair’s B.A.D 24/7 (Briana and Donovan, 24/7) wedding theme could appropriately double as the title to their blockbuster love-story, and their classic-romantic style wedding acts as only the beginning of the script for the rest of their lives.

Bride & Groom: Briana Swann & Donovan Christie Jr.
Occupations: Bride - Actor/Writer. Groom - Actor
Wedding Date: October 25, 2015
Wedding Location: The Leal Vinyard in Hollister, California

Wedding Style: I always thought I would have a traditional wedding dress, but of course nothing goes as planned when it comes to life. My family and friends saw me in something fitted. So I believe I got the best of both worlds. I had a trumpet style dress with a bit of a train, which I absolutely had to have! What made my dress so special was the fact that it carried the same name as my grandmother, Mildred, and was made in Spain which is where my husband's grandmother is from. I really loved my belt which was created by my sister-friend, and my shoes were so incredibly comfortable! Who's ever heard of that?

Culture: We had a world party in terms of our music for the reception. We wanted to make sure our families were fully represented.

Favorite Item on the Menu: All of the food was amazing! The cake was out of this world great! It was a 3 tier cake with Strawberry Chiffon, Lemon Chiffon, and Chocolate Bavarian.

Bridesmaids & Groomsmen Gifts: I gave the Bridesmaids personalized bags and engraved silver bracelets that said, "To my sisters...all of my love." The Groomsmen received personalized converse with the date of the wedding on the side.

First Dance Song: "So in Love" by Abiah

Memories: We really enjoyed the first dance. We felt like no one was there but us. The energy of the entire weekend and of the ceremony really came together at that particular moment.

Help a Bride-to-be out!  Well, my husband would say a happy wife is a happy life. I would say don't overwhelm one another. In many cases I took care of the sifting of information and came to him when I needed to make a decision. By that time, I'd narrowed down the options. I would also say to set a realistic timeline for yourself and ask someone to kindly hold you accountable to your deadlines.

A few more tips:

*Solidify your venue as soon as you can
* Don't get so caught up in the planning of your wedding that you forget to nurture your relationship
* Be nice to your parents, they've been waiting for this too, and they are pretty excited.
*Find kind ways to say "no" to people or to things that you really don't want. People will try to convince you to do things their way.
*Enjoy yourself throughout the process and especially on that day. It only happens once, well at least it should.
*Be as present as possible. You don't want to feel like you weren't there on that day!
* Get the best photographer and videographer. It is totally and absolutely worth it!!!


Bride's dress: Mildred by Pronovias / Sash:  Traci Gage
Bridal salon:  Trudy's Brides in San Jose, CA
Bride's shoes: Inc International Concept
Bridesmaids dresses:  Mori Lee
Cake:  Chef Kimberly Brandon at the Grove
Catering: The Grove
Ceremony venue:  The Léal Vineyard
Event decor/design: Giselle Ribeiro
Entertainment: DJ Mario Tavares
Favors: Concentration de Parfums
Florals:  Giselle Ribeiro at Deluxe Design Decor
Groom's attire:  Calvin Klein
Groomsmen attire:  Calvin Klein
Hair:  Sophia Alston
Makeup:  Posh Makeup Studios by Yavivi
Photography:  Joshua Dwain Photography
Reception venue:  The Léal Vineyard
Stationery:  Wedding Paper Divas
Videography:  Alex Kohn

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