Claire Cafritz and Erek Nimphius first noticed each other during a psychology lab class they both had while attending Connecticut College. “I was too shy to talk to him and at first he interpreted that as me not being friendly,” Claire recalls. But after running into each other at a student frequented dive bar in New London, the two became fast friends and after graduating college they started dating.
After almost six years together, Erek and Claire went to visit her parents for Thanksgiving weekend at their home in Washington D.C., While she was helping her mother cook dinner in the kitchen, Erek asked Claire to come outside and play with her family dog, Harper. “I went to pick up a sneaker Harper had been using as a toy and when I turned around, Erek was on one knee while my family watched (and cried) in the distance,” she says.
For years, Claire had grown up going to Martha’s Vineyard every summer, and after she first started dating Erek, he joined the annual outing to small island as well. “The house we go to in Chilmark is truly my favorite place on earth and the views are unbeatable,” she explains. “We looked at a few venues on the island at first, but at the end of the day, nothing felt more special than doing it at the home we loved so much.”
Once the wedding’s venue was set, Claire enlisted Plan It Martha’s Vineyard and florist Justin LaVigne to help her achieve the elegant, yet inviting atmosphere she was envisioning for her big day. To achieve this, they ended up adding homey details inside the tent, like bistro lights, paper lanterns, and local flowers, and offered fun paper goods like watercolor illustrated programs and menus by El’s Cards.
When looking for her wedding dress, Claire was set on a classic A-line style, but wanted something that would feel just right in the beachy setting of Martha’s Vineyard. She found just what she was looking for in a Lela Rose design. “The embossed floral pattern gave it the same classic feel of lace and it was the perfect weight for an August wedding,” she explains. For jewelry, she kept things simple and borrowed her mother’s Tiffany pearl and diamond studs and diamond tennis bracelet. “It was hard to give those back!” she admits. And she also paid tribute to her late grandfather by adding a small angel pin he gifted her before he passed away to her wedding bouquet. Beachy, loose waves and natural makeup completed her look.
As for Erek, he went with a bespoke navy suit he had made at a New York based clothier called Sebastian Grey. “My father also lent him my late grandfather’s vintage Omega watch for the day,” Claire adds.
For the bridal party, Claire was pretty relaxed on the dress code for her bridesmaids. “I had them each pick out a long navy blue dress of their choice,” she says. “My only rule was no chiffon!” Meanwhile, the groomsmen all wore navy blazers from My Suit, khaki pants from Bonobos and matching raspberry Vineyard Vines ties with a Martha’s Vineyard pattern on them. “He even had the great idea to make a custom bowtie collar in the same tie print for Harper, our family dog and ring bearer,” Claire says.
Before the ceremony started, Claire’s youngest brother Will was put in charge of walking Harper down the aisle and had tied our Stephanie Gottlieb designed rings loosely around the dog’s collar moments before lining up for the ceremony. After standing out in the August sun for a few minutes, Will got a little overheated and handed Harper over to Matt, Claire’s older brother, in order to go inside and freshen up. “Matt decided to walk Harper down the road to make sure he did any business before the ceremony and when he walked him back to the group he noticed the ribbon around his collar was loose and the rings were gone,” Claire says. With almost no time to spare, all of the groomsmen started searching for the lost rings on the road. “After ten minutes of sheer panic they found them stacked on top of one another on a leaf about 30 seconds before the bridesmaids and I arrived,” Claire adds. “The only time Erek has been okay with me running late!”
With the ring snafu sorted out, the couple tied the knot at the top of a hill looking over the ocean between two chinoiserie earns with limelight hydrangeas. The ceremony was officiated by a close family friend, whom Claire described as “the perfect blend of funny, serious, and charming.” From then on, guests were led inside a tent where a dinner with local ingredients from the island and speeches from the Claire’s dad, the maids of honor, best man, and family awaited. “When I first walked into the tent, I felt like I was walking into my dream,” she says. They later inaugurated the dance floor as husband and wife with their first dance to “Franklin’s Tower” by the Grateful Dead. “Our band was also incredible,” Claire adds. “Once the music started people were barely in their seats—their rendition of “Shout” was one for the books.”
But the party didn’t end there, in fact, the couple offered two after parties. One, an after hours gathering at the top of the hill where they held the ceremony that include a bonfire and s’mores. And even later still, a small pizza party at the couple’s hotel suite at the Beach Plum Inn, where they had 20 pies awaiting. “The pizzas were devoured and the night went on later that we can remember!”