More than a decade after meeting, Gemma Blest and Chris Gray make it official atop the mountains of Santa Monica
A bar in the East End of London was where it all began for fellow Brits Gemma Blest, a floral designer, and Chris Gray, a former managing director at a global investment bank. After a long night of cocktails and bonding over their mutual love for Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code—which they both happened to be reading at the time—Chris asked Gemma out for lunch the following day. “We went to a pub in Hampstead, and as soon as we left, Chris kissed me in the middle of the street,” recalls Gemma. “The chemistry was instant.”
Eight months later, in 2005, work took Chris to Hong Kong and Gemma followed. After eight years of living together and traveling through Southeast Asia (a highlight of which was adopting their dog, George), the couple decided to part ways, prompting Gemma to move to Los Angeles.
They kept in touch for two years, and eventually Chris invited Gemma to join him on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. On the day of their arrival, they checked in at a dreamy seaside hotel that had once been a monastery, and at sunset, Chris took a ring from his pocket and asked Gemma to be his wife. “Being apart made me realize that it was unimaginable not to spend the rest of my life with her,” he explains. Adds Gemma: “We weren’t technically even dating when he proposed, which our friends found quite amusing.”
The Hong Kong-based couple exchanged vows at Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards before 132 guests on the property’s hilltop location, surrounded by creamy white roses and looming green mountains. Even with some unexpected rainfall, the planners at Bash Please executed Gemma’s vision perfectly, with neutral colors and rustic-luxe table settings, including high-drama centerpieces plush with bright poppies, vines, geranium leaves and flamingo-pink roses.
After a sit-down dinner of farm-to-table fare including farro risotto with baby vegetables and Chianti-braised short ribs with rigatoni, everyone took to the dance floor. Bob Gail’s Jump Start played a mean “Uptown Funk,” according to Gemma, but there was no first dance: “We originally chose a slow song, but the bottom of my dress was so soaked from the rain I couldn’t move well, so we just jumped around and had a ball.” The following day, the couple held a recovery lunch at Herringbone Santa Monica with Bloody Marys, lobster rolls and leftover lemon poppyseed wedding cake.
PLANNER Bash Please FLORISTS Brrch (table flowers), Hayden Blest (climbing roses) BRIDE’S RING Berganza CAKE Whoa Nelly Catering with roses from Rose Lane Farms bar Pharmacie hair Ben Mohapi/Benjamin Salon makeup Yasuko Shapiro
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NANCY NEIL.
WRITTEN BY CAROLINE CAGNEY.