Even though Claire Blackburn and Kyle Drexler grew up in the same town and attended the same high school, it would take years until they would actually cross paths. Claire was a good friend of Kyle’s younger brother, Eric, and the three started to hang out as friends when they were all living in New York City. “What I love about our story is that we can each point to a moment when something changed for us and we started thinking of the friendship as something more,” Claire says. “For me, it was a beach drive in our friend’s vintage red Bronco in Nantucket. We started dating shortly after that.”
Three years after that beach ride, Kyle and Claire found themselves in Nantucket again over the holidays. At the time, they both were living in Kenya—he’s a financial consultant with StratLink Africa, she leads operations and strategic partnerships for finch startup Student Finance Africa—and had plans to spend New Year’s at their favorite summer destination. “When we arrived on the island, our friend Henry picked us up in his vintage red Bronco and then offered to lend it to us for the next few days,” she remembers. “That should’ve been my first clue.” Kyle then drove Claire to a personal spot of theirs on the beach, where he proposed with a picnic of clam chowder, oysters, and Claire’s favorite Champagne.
At first, the couple originally planned on getting married on safari in Africa with only their immediate family present. However logistics proved to be too complicated. “Nantucket was the natural runner-up,” Claire says. “We both grew up spending summers there with our families and it’s a big part of who we are as individuals and as a couple.”
They settled on a December wedding on the island because the off-season is actually their favorite time of the year. “We loved the idea of taking over the island that weekend—it was like our own Christmas Stroll.” For the reception, the couple picked The Nantucket Hotel, and the wedding party and the couple’s families essentially had the run of the place all weekend. “It was so much fun to have a home base for the wedding and made everything so much easier.” Even though the couple didn’t want a “Christmas wedding” when it came to deciding on aesthetics, they ultimately decided to go with a “season of light” theme, meaning plenty of metallic accents and seasonal touches like birch, pine, and holiday-inspired lighting.
Before any of this had even been secured, however, Claire had already bought her dress. She found the Lihi Hod gown at the second store she went to with her mother. “I felt like it was made for me, and we bought it on the spot,” she adds. She completed her bridal look with an ivory chapel length veil by Sara Gabriel, a J.Mendel bolero, gold Suart Weitzman flats, and two pieces of jewelry she was gifted on her wedding day: a gold braided bracelet from Kyle—“a fancy version of the rope bracelets we used to wear during the summer as kids”—and her great grandmother’s engagement ring. “My grandfather, who passed away in 2007, left instructions for my mom to gift it to me on my wedding day,” she said. “My necklace, bracelet, and ring ended up being my something borrowed, something new, and something blue.”
On the big day, Claire and Kyle’s wedding ceremony at St. Paul’s Church almost didn’t happen. “My brother Calvin wiped out face first in the parking lot and cut his chin open pretty badly—like 14 stitches badly,” she says. “Luckily one of my bridesmaids, Emily, is a nurse and was able to patch him up before the ceremony.” The bride walked down the aisle to “Pachelbel’s Canon in D”: “It was the song I was born to, crazily enough.” And she remembers one of her favorite moments of the ceremony was when she was walking down the aisle with her stepfather, Dough Zumbach. “Doug and I were laughing because I wanted to get down the aisle as quickly as possible, but he kept holding me back so that he could enjoy ‘his moment in the spotlight.’”
From then, it was on to the reception in the ballroom of the Nantucket Hotel, where a huge dance party awaited. “Our guests were packing the dance floor before the entree even came out,” Claire says. “We had to force everyone back to their seats so we could finish the speeches.” After the reception wrapped up, everyone headed out to the Rose and Crown, a local dive bar where a DJ played hits from their high school days. “It was hilarious and totally unplanned,” she adds. “We definitely closed the place down. I heard there was an after-after party, but I was definitely in bed by then!”