At Walt Disney Studios, fairytales are brought to life. For Brittany and Daniel, it’s where their own happily-ever-after love story began.
The two met back in 2013 while working there. At the time, Brittany (director of original Netflix film casting) was a casting director for the company and Willis (writer for Twenties, Queens and Chicago Fire) was a show writer. And while they had some chemistry, they were just work friends.
But you know what they say about distance. It certainly can make the heart grow fonder.
When Daniel moved on to another gig, the two were reunited after a few years gone by without seeing one another. All it took was for him to “accidentally” send a package to his old work address and require Brittany’s help to retrieve it for sparks to finally explode between them.
“Once he saw me again after so much time, he forgot all about that Amazon package, and we made a plan to see each other again,” she recalls to ESSENCE. “Who knew a simple mistake could be the start of something so special?”
The two went on a first date to a wine bar on her birthday, which is a tough day to knock someone’s socks off. Daniel did though. He saved the day after her initial plans were canceled unexpectedly and gifted her a framed photo he’d taken of her months before. The two have been together ever since.
So it was only a matter of time before he asked for her hand in marriage, proposing in LA’s Griffith Park. On July 23, 2023, the couple said “I do” at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Santa Susana Mountains, the theme, “glamorous garden.” They, along with their guests, truly got to have the time of their lives as everyone was made to put their phones away for the unplugged ceremony and partied until 1 a.m. under the twinkling lights and night sky. The bride even changed into a chic mini-gown, sneakers, and a grill with her new last name on it (Willis) to truly let loose!
There would be so many unforgettable moments from their special day, and thankfully, just about all were captured. Check out the beauty from their gorgeous celebration, which was the perfect climax to their fairytale story. Or perhaps, it was just the start to the next chapter. Learn more about how it all came together in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
“I knew Daniel was my person when I noticed that I was a much calmer person when I was with him,” she says. “I’m a very passionate person and my emotions will take me up, down, and all around in a matter of minutes. Simply being in his presence balances me. He makes me much more chill. I started to notice the difference in how at ease I felt when I was with him. No one else had ever made me feel like that. Anyone who has that effect on me is special and worth leaning into. He also makes me laugh like no one else can.”
“I knew Brittany was my person when I knew it was possible for me to have one person. That wasn’t something I was always sure of or desired. When I knew in my soul that I wanted to share my life with someone in this way I had no doubts that Brittany was the one,” says Daniel.
Lulit Laybourne, a member of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, put on a beautiful solo performance. It was choreographed by the academy’s director, Karen McDonald.
Before they met one another at the altar, Daniel got down on one knee at one of the most popular parks in LA: Griffith Park. He was able to surprise her by giving her the impression that they were simply having another date night. “We pulled into a nearby park and parked. Daniel told me not to get out of the car yet and began to check his phone. He’s a foodie so my first thought was there was a food popup in the park and he wasn’t sure where it was,” Brittany says. “We then got out of the car and began to walk hand-in-hand through the park. I noticed a really pretty picnic set up at a distance but didn’t think anything of it because Daniel isn’t a fan of picnics. As he started to guide me straight towards the beautiful setup, I started to get the feeling this was a special date night.” She was right. “We sat down and I was admiring how beautiful everything was. As he was pointing out all of the details, he turned around a chalkboard that read ‘Brittany, will you marry me?’ and dropped down to one knee. I started to cry and kinda forgot to answer out loud. After he reminded me that I didn’t answer, I screamed yes over and over again.” Daniel adds, “It was my turn to plan a date night, so Brittany was primed for a surprise, but nothing like the one she received.”
“Hummingbird Nest Ranch was the 12th venue we visited. We were OVER the venue search,” the bride recalls. “We were having a hard time finding a venue that felt perfect for us. Two major deal breakers were it must be a Saturday and it must be between May and September. The LA area is beautiful and we didn’t think it would be so hard but every place we visited was missing ‘something.’” This particular venue had everything, including a history of being featured in TV shows and films. “When we arrived at the gates of Hummingbird Nest Ranch, I instantly fell in love. I knew it was the right place before we even took the tour. After the tour, I was ready to sign the dotted line but there was one issue: There wasn’t a single Saturday available between May and September. After a long weekend of not being able to get Hummingbird out of my mind, we caved and decided on the perfect date, 7.23.23, which was a Sunday.”
The theme for the big day was “glamorous garden” because of the bride’s love of bright colors and flowers. “I feel like the recent wedding trends are white, white, and more white so I wanted to go completely against that. It was Daniel’s idea to have the guests wear colors within a specific color palette. Since our wedding colors were shades of pinks, bright red, and periwinkle, we wanted the guests to be in other bright colors to complete the garden. It was a beautiful sight to see.”
“Nothing bugs us both more than being at an event and seeing a bunch of phones in the air. We didn’t want that for our wedding,” Brittany shares of their no-phones policy. “We wanted everyone to be present and simply enjoy the moment with us. We’d hire amazing photographers and an amazing videographer that we knew would capture the beautiful moment so we didn’t need anyone else to do that for us. We also didn’t want our intimate ceremony to be plastered all over social media.”
The couple dig into their tiered cake, which played into the glamorous garden theme.
It’s not a true party if you aren’t able to bust a move comfortably. That’s why Brittany opted to change into a short strapless dress with a fun bow train and high-top white sneakers, throw in some grills with her married name on them, and carry a “Mrs.” clutch to drive the point home that she’s the proud Mrs. Willis. “I wanted my second look to be completely different than my first look. I wanted to show how versatile I am,” she says of the look’s inspiration. “I’m a classy executive but I’m also a country girl from the South. I knew I wanted something special and what’s more unique and special than a grill with my new last name?!”
The couple and their guests partied down until 1 a.m., a great benefit of having their nuptials at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch. “We partied hard!” says Brittany. “Our friends and family know how to have a good time and our DJ, DJ R-Tistic, guarantees a good time!”
Brittany, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., brought along her sorors to put on a show for guests during the super lit reception.
For the bride, her favorite moments came during the ceremony. “Standing in front of all the people we love, holding hands, and staring into each other’s eyes was an indescribable feeling. I felt so safe and so loved,” she says. “The love was palpable from every direction but energy between he and I was pure bliss. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Also, people were in great spirits and ready to shower us with love. It was a major reminder of how much support we have and how loved we are.” As for Daniel, in addition to their first dance and the mother-son dance at the reception, he said seeing his bride make her entrance is a moment that can’t be beat for him. “My favorite moment was seeing Brittany for the first time as she walked down the aisle,” he says. “It felt like the culmination of all the planning and preparation but beyond that, it represented what the whole day was really about.”
Bridal Reception Dress: @rachelgilbertbridal
Bride’s Custom Grillz: @luxegrillz