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Behind the scenes



Claire Duran Weddings and Events, Five Years and a Party of Four

If you can believe it, Claire Durán Weddings and Events turned 5 years old in October! Sometimes we look back and think, where did the time go?! And other times we can’t believe that it’s only been five years. The amount we have been able to both envision and accomplish in these past several years brings a lot of pride and joy to our souls, and fuels the fire for pursuing and achieving even more in the years to come.

So.. where did it all begin?

Just about 6 years ago, Claire was pregnant with her daughter Mila, working your standard office hours at prominent international banking organizations and plugging away at numbers in order to provide time-sensitive data and results. She had recently finished her PhD and was genuinely excited about the topics she was working with; the research was fun and the content was interesting, but she eventually came to find the actual day-to-day work to be unfulfilling. Seeing as Claire grew up with art all around her, taking a deep personal interest in piano and ballet in particular, she began to crave for that part of her existence to become alive again. She genuinely loved her career and job, but the fact that it was not artistic in any way, shape, or form was, in essence, eating away at her.

At the same time, having recently given birth to Mila, Claire simply could no longer picture herself being in an office every day. She didn’t want to necessarily be a stay-at-home mom, but definitely wanted the ability to be more present for her daughter’s life when she needed to be. Truth be told, she has always had the itch to be an entrepreneur – constantly wondering “What if I do this? What if I start that?” – but it never truly felt like the right time, the right place, or the right idea. That is, until the thought for Claire Duran Weddings & Events came along. 

As she puts it,

“It’s hard to explain “why weddings” – it was just something that I got inspired by. The Holy Spirit just put it in my mind and I couldn’t let it go. It wasn’t a matter of me planning my wedding and then wanting to be a planner – this thought came several years after (my wedding to Nayel). It just seemed like a good combination of what could be exciting from an organizational and people-relations perspective, as well as from a design and artistic perspective. One thing I did know, is that I always wanted to do intricate events that would challenge my production abilities. It’s a lot of fun – seeing something come to life from an idea, and give people one of the happiest moments of their lives. I always thought that was pretty cool and in many ways, fulfilling.”

Claire worked her first year in business solo. In its second year, CDWE was thriving and growing, and in need of additional support from a logistics standpoint. Enter: Liz, Lead Event Coordinator and Director of Digital Design. At the time, Liz had recently given birth to her son, Cooper, and her job was in the process of relocating – the timing couldn’t have been better for both her and Claire. 

A few months later, CDWE received their first destination inquiry, which then introduced Maja to the team. Claire and Maja knew each other from their younger days in the Dominican Republic, and the fit just seemed natural. She started by simply giving day-of assistance for destination weddings, but as that segment of CDWE got busier and busier, she was promoted to assist in planning tasks, ultimately becoming the Lead Planner for the Dominican Republic Chapter of the business.

As with many growing businesses, it quickly became clear that the team needed behind-the-scenes support to help take care of all the nitty-gritty work that goes into keeping a company thriving and running smoothly. This is where Ian came in, joining CDWE in the fall of 2019 as the much-valued Office Manager, providing support and assistance to the planning team in immeasurable ways.

And so, Claire Duran Weddings and Events grew from a business of 1 into a fantastic team of 4!

A few other fun tidbits from the past five years:

  • We have planned and executed a total of 73 weddings to date (see all of our amazing couples on our CDWE Instagram highlight!)
  • We have planned weddings in 15 different states or foreign cities across 4 countries
  • We have had our work featured in magazines and on industry websites and blogs over 75 times

So how about a true introduction (and reintroduction) to the the passionate, meticulous, and overall fabulous humans that make up the CDWE team?!


Owner and Creative Director

Claire Duran, Owner and Creative Director of Claire Duran Weddings & EventsClaire is the wedding and event problem-solver, trouble-shooter, planner and orchestrator behind Claire Durán Weddings and Events. A Stanford and Maryland graduate with a Doctorate in Public Policy, she made her home in DC in 2012 with her husband, Nayel, and daughter, Mila.

With creative roots grounded in ballet, music and art, Claire designs and plans visionary local events and destination weddings that radiate grace, class and elegance.

She believes in lovingly and carefully planned events; mindfully designed and perfectly executed. She believes that this next chapter of your story deserves to be defined by an elegant celebration; one that exudes your personal style and fulfills your every goal. And she believes in you and your vision for your special day.

Which is why a Claire Duran wedding or event is always a thoughtful masterpiece, designed with care, devotion and a humble heart to reflect and translate your vision into a day you’ll never forget.


Lead Event Coordinator and Director of Digital Design

Liz Theal, Lead Event Coordinator at Claire Duran Weddings & EventsLiz was our first official team member (outside of Claire, of course), and is our official details devotee. An out and proud logistics nerd, Liz is here to ensure that your vision for your wedding or event is expressed and delivered beautifully.

Liz is the kind of person that salivates over to-do lists, treats a spreadsheet with the same kind of reverence as an antique manuscript or a delicate exotic flower, and happily blends her appreciation for beautiful things with her passion for planning to lighten your load and cultivate your event masterpiece.

Before starting at CDWE, Liz spent five years planning and hosting international education fairs and corporate events. She believes in pairing aesthetics with logistics to bring to life the unique personality and character of an event.

When she’s not nose-deep in a color-coded chart, timeline or spreadsheet, you’ll find Liz outdoors with her husband and their two kiddos as they hike, run, bike, swim and explore everything nature has to offer.


Lead Event Planner, DR Chapter

Maja Lama, Lead Event Planner at Claire Duran Weddings & EventsMaja joined the team about two years in, to support as needed for our destination weddings. Since then, she has become a full-time member of the CDWE team, and for good reason! Maja is the ultimate troubleshooter; calm, confident and in possession of the kind of witty charm that effortlessly endears her to clients and vendors alike, we like to joke that Maja could be shipwrecked, yet still be utterly stress-free. (And oh boy, would that shipwreck be organized!)

Maja’s favorite part of her job is the day-of execution. Seeing the ideas and dreams of her clients come to life in an event they’ll cherish forever? Priceless.

Prior to being part of the CDWE family, Maja was directing big budget PR campaigns for companies like Nestlé, L’ebel and United Airlines. But even though she was doing incredible work, Maja soon realized her passion was in the event planning and design element of her job … and so the CDWE happily family grew to three!

When she has space in her calendar (and she’s not taking Karaoke selfies … totally a thing. Check out her Instagram stories!), Maja loves to fill her life with travel adventures. Being able to explore new countries and create new memories fuels her and inspires her event design style.


Office Manager

Ian Howard, Office Manager at Claire Duran Weddings & Events

As with most growing businesses, CDWE found itself in some dire need of administrative support – and along came Ian! Ian is our behind-the-scenes guy, coordinating logistics and operations from our Washington, DC base. He executes day-to-day tasks to ensure the team has everything we need to execute your big day without worry or fear.

Ian is a people pleaser and the consummate team player. He does whatever it takes to set the team up for success, which is great news for all parties involved. Whether it’s coordinating travel, mailing gifts or save the dates, connecting with vendors, or helping newly engaged couples schedule their consultations, Ian goes above and beyond to make sure every detail is efficiently handled.

Originally from Detroit and lover of all things Michigan, Ian and his wife Andrea currently live in Maryland with their son Bennett. He loves spending time with his family, quoting entire episodes of The Office or Seinfeld, and of course jamming to 2006 Justin Timberlake classics (you know what they are).

One of the most beautiful things about the CDWE family, is exactly that – we feel like a true family, with a team that at its core, was born out of friendships and personal connections. Not only do we work together, but we also spend quality time with each other, having dinner and drinks, scheduling play dates (for those of us with kiddos), and even spending some holidays together. We find that this allows us to mesh all that much more, which in turn gives our clients and couples a comprehensive and truly one-of-a-kind CDWE experience.

Cheers to that!

Photo Credit: Asia Pimentel

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