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The Bride Walked Herself Down the Aisle at This Magical Ojai Wedding

By Patricia Garcia | Photography by 

Lauren Scotti

Dennis McGovern, a lead strategist at a tech firm, and Danielle DiPaola, senior director of partnerships at The Wing, grew up seven minutes from one another, shared an orthodontist, and even attended the same wedding at one point, but never managed to cross paths. That is until Thanksgiving week of November 2016, when they were both back in their hometown and were persuaded by friends to go out for a drink. They ended up being introduced by a mutual friend and immediately hit it off. That night, Dennis asked his dad if he believed in love at first sight and spent Thanksgiving day crafting the perfect text. After their first date at a wine bar, Dennis extended his trip and made plans to visit New York the following week. Before they knew it, they were in a long distance relationship.

Six short months later, Danielle had decided to move to Los Angeles. “He had come to New York to help me pack up my apartment and we decided to go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art so that we could say goodbye to it, since it was the first place where we had told each other that we were falling in love with one another,” Danielle explains. “We found a quiet corner in the museum, where we were totally alone in front of a Picasso painting called “Reading at a Table,” which Picasso had painted of his muse Marie-Therese.” Danielle was caught completely off guard when Dennis proposed then and there and even a had a photographer to capture the moment. “The first thing I said to him after I said “yes” was “I can’t believe I didn’t get a manicure!” she adds.

The couple knew they wanted to get married in Ojai, since they often traveled there when Danielle was visiting the West Coast. “Ojai is known for having healing energy and is a very spiritual and magical place,” she says. They searched for months for a venue until they found a private property owned by Paul Hendershot, a well-known landscape design architect in Ojai, called Provence in Ojai. “Our vision was to create an environment that felt European and that also felt like a dinner party from a Nancy Meyers film,” Danielle says.  To achieve their dream, they hired planner Arthur Aumont, and together they settled on long wooden tables with raw edges around a pool, dim lighting, candles everywhere, and a family-style dinner.

For her bridal look, Danielle wanted something timeless and elegant with a bit of an edge, and found what she was looking for in a Carolina Herrera gown. “I loved that it was a little bit classic, but had the fun and whimsy of the giant bow in the back,” she says. For jewelry, she picked pieces that belonged to her family: vintage diamond hoops from her mother, a golf bracelet her father had gifted her mother when she was pregnant with Danielle, and an heirloom ring with an aquamarine stone that once belonged to her grandmother. “It ended up being my something blue,” Danielle adds. As for her hair and makeup, she turned to friend Natalie Paz of Salon Benjamin in West Hollywood, and together they decided to go with something a little 60s; lots of volume and loose curls. “We used Brigitte Bardot as an inspiration.” The groom meanwhile wore custom Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

The day of the ceremony, Danielle and Dennis were married in a courtyard that sat in front of a 100-year-old stone cottage. Their friend Aaron Embry, of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, played classical pieces on a piano while guests took their seats. Dennis walked down the aisle with the couple’s mini golden doodle, Hudson, and the bride chose to walk herself down the aisle as a reflection of her own beliefs. “My parents walked me inside the space through the hedges and then I had a moment with each of them to say goodbye,” she explains. “They continued down the aisle and hugged Dennis and then I began my procession down the aisle to my husband.” The processional was “Claire de Lune” by Debussy and the end of the song was time perfectly to match the bride’s arrival to the altar. Even though the couple was both raised Catholic, they chose to have a ceremony that was more a reflection of their current beliefs. Their officiant, for instance, was a friend who is also a reiki healer and spiritual guide. During the ceremony, one of their friends also did a dramatic reading of one of the couple’s first text conversations. “People came up to us afterwards and told us it was their favorite thing,” she says. Once they were declared husband and wife, the newlyweds exited to a live piano version of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.”

An al fresco dinner reception followed, where the event’s meal was served family style. Wood fire oven pizzas were offered, and for all the accompaniments (cacio e pepe pasta, Brussel sprouts, and salads), the couple worked with chef Nick Barainca, who owns a pop-up restaurant in Ojai called Gargantua. For dessert, a celebration cake from Susie Cakes and an assortment of seasonal pies and house churned ice cream were on hand to satisfy guest’s sweet tooth.

The couple chose “You Send Me” by Aretha Franklin for their first dance song, and while that moment was definitely special, Danielle admits one of her top moments on the dance floor was actually dancing Whitney Houston with all of her best friends and her grandmother. “There was also this moment I will never forget where I was sitting with my husband after we made our entrance and dinner was being served. The sun had just set and “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong began to play as all of the candles glittered and people chatted,” the bride shares. “I looked out and saw the faces of all these people that I adore and I grabbed my husband’s hand and just couldn’t believe what we had created together. I wanted to freeze time!”