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Santa Cruz Wedding Photographer \ Claire and Dan \ Seacliff State Beach

The Knot featured their story and can be seen here!

Claire and Dan’s beautiful story written by Clair:

7 years ago, almost to the date of our engagement, we met when Dan crashed my housewarming party in San Francisco. And when I say “crashed,” Dan was at a different party and got invited by a mutual friend. Turns out he knew 4 of the 5 roommates – I was the only unknown. He arrived at my housewarming and it was one of those “their eyes met from across the room” moments. Dan likes to say that he looked around the room and I was the cutest one there 🙂 We talked some at the party, but left it at that.

Both being Stanford graduates (Dan 2009, Claire 2010), and avid football fans, we ended up reconnecting at the Fiesta Bowl later that month where we were both rooting on our Stanford Cardinal. Dan was hosting a tailgate and so I coerced a patient wingwoman (thanks, Cara!) to trek all the way around the stadium (literally miles out of the way) to see him. Dan and I clearly had chemistry. He was so easy to talk to, and being with him felt so natural. I remember blushing while gushing to my girlfriends that night about how special our connection was. Before long we started seeing each other more regularly.

Seeing each other regularly became a true relationship – bonded together by a love of travel and adventure, and lots of laughter. Seven years, 12 countries, 40 weddings (as attendees), 5 jobs, 1 semi truck, and countless other life experiences after our first meeting in my Lower Haight apartment, Dan finally asked me to go on the ultimate adventure.

Dan knew he wanted to propose in a place special to me – Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California – before the end of the year. My family inherited a cabin in the nearby town of Capitola, and so every time we go there we take our family dog for a walk on Seacliff beach. It’s an amazing beach that stretches for miles, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Monterey.

So, leading up to Christmas, Dan started planning the engagement. Unbeknownst to me, my whole family got in on the action. We happened to be spending a weekend together in that Capitola cabin – 8 of us crammed into a 800 sq. foot space – and everyone was planning my engagement right under my nose. While I was in the room everyone else was scouting potential sites, looking up photographers to capture the moment, and fine-tuning the plan through shared docs.

When it came to the ring, Dan wanted to let me be involved in the ultimate selection. So for the proposal, he asked my mom if he could use her engagement ring as a placeholder – a simple solitaire with a gold band. It was a ring I had admired since childhood.

On December 30th, 2018 it was a beautiful crisp and sunny day in Capitola. We had the day together before our friends joined us for New Years Eve, so Dan and I had already planned an adventure day together. I had actually suggested most of our activities – unwittingly planned my engagement! We went wine tasting in the morning at a local winery (Bonny Doon), had lunch next door, and then were intended to go on a walk. Not knowing the timing of the walk was of significance, I kept trying to change the plan, suggesting going home to take a nap or going to an abalone farm. Dan expertly kept us on track while making me think it was my idea!

The proposal itself was simple but magical. We were walking down the beach when Dan started to tickle me (not out of the ordinary). In the process of tickling me, he somehow managed to extract the ring from his vest pocket and get down on one knee. I only have a vague idea of what he said, as I started crying immediately, but Amber of DeJoy Photography was able to capture the emotions of the moment beautifully. After accepting his hand (“of course!”) Amber captured our pure joy in the moment through a short engagement shoot. They’re pictures we’ll treasure forever.

We ended our evening watching the California sunset over the ocean while enjoying a small picnic my parents set up as a surprise. It was a perfect way to celebrate the little moments that have made our relationship so special 🙂


De Joy Photography specializes in Wedding, Engagement and Bridal Boudoir Photography in the Central Coast and beyond.