It was 2014 when Claudia Kernan and Gary Benz met during a luncheon for the Entertainment Industry Council (EIC) – a non-profit dedicated to helping the entertainment industry portray mental health issues in socially responsible ways.
Gary, CEO of GRB Entertainment and the Emmy Award-winning producer of the A&E docuseries Intervention, was on the board for EIC. Claudia, a pediatric neuropsychologist who serves on the clinical faculty at UCLA and directs both The Help Group-UCLA Neuropsychology Program and the Palisades Neurodevelopment Center, was attending as a scientific advisor.
"A WEDDING CEREMONY THAT REFLECTED HUMOR AND CHILDLIKE JOY"
“We quickly learned how our life passions overlapped,” Claudia says. “Gary was a psychology major and I am a former professional ballet dancer, so we both have a deep interest in promoting the arts as a medium for increasing public awareness around mental health issues. I have a vivid memory of looking into Gary’s eyes that day and seeing a playful spark of joy that immediately drew me to him. I soon discovered how deeply compassionate and kind he is, and fell head over heals in love. Gary is an incredible man – handsome, witty, brilliant and accomplished, but his golden heart is what makes him the love of my life.”
“I don’t remember anything about the award show, but I do know I was completely smitten by her stunning beauty, sweet and empathic disposition, and her intelligent grasp and commentary about the subject matter of the luncheon,” Gary shares. “Later, when we actually began dating, I couldn’t believe how she was able to so gracefully move through the competitive world of neuropsychology, but somehow manage to maintain her childlike freshness and open sense of humor that most adults have long lost. Claudia won my heart over in the very first moments I was graced by her company. That love and respect has grown exponentially every day since.”
The engagement took place at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur on a bluff overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful, romantic, old-fashioned, down-on-one-knee proposal, with just the couple together in the most incredible setting.
Claudia and Gary wanted their wedding ceremony to reflect the humor and childlike joy present within the “old-soul” love they feel for one another. “To that end, our reading, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, provided the perfect counterpointe to the deeply spiritual and meaningful vows delivered by our officiant, Reverend Barbara Laughray,” Claudia describes. “Gary’s two sisters and my dear family friend did the reading with a love, gusto, and charm that we will never forget. We are so grateful to them for the magic they created!”
That bespoke blend of classic romance and lighthearted fun continued during the wedding reception. “We wanted an ethereal, all-white, other-worldly look, and my planner, Tessa Brand, and our team of vendors delivered,” explains the bride. “I was in tears when I saw the ballroom, as I felt transported into a dreamland. Tessa is the crème-de-la-crème of planners; she made the day beautiful and took care of every detail, so we could just relax and savor every moment of our magical day.”
At the end of the night, the newlyweds made a stylish exit in a white 1937 Packard and jetted off a week later for a honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast.
Planner and Event Design: Tessa Lyn Events, Los Angeles, CA: Wedding Dress: Berta