Emma Claris and Matt Sawaia threw their initial large-scale wedding plans to the wind and tied the knot in Surf City with 12 guests in attendance
By Jessica Mirelli | Photography by Atlanta Dahlia
Chapel Hillian Emma Claris and Matt Sawaia of Cary met in 2014 when she got lost on their first day of interning for MetLife in Charlotte. Sparks flew instantly when Matt offered to drive Emma to work for the rest of the summer.
Emma, an East Chapel Hill High School alumna, and Matt, who attended Apex High School, had both graduated from UNC Charlotte that May with degrees in finance. They bonded over the Carolina Panthers and brewery hopping in Charlotte and soon got a dog together, their best bud, Moose.
In 2018, Matt surprised Emma in their Uptown Charlotte apartment after a trip to the North Carolina Zoo with her nephew. She said yes without any hesitation and was surprised to see their parents, Gayle Claris and Woody Claris, and Mike Sawaia and Nanette Sawaia, at the celebratory dinner.
After a long engagement, the pair planned the wedding in secret, in just over three weeks, and got married on Dec. 3, 2021. “We picked this day not only because I liked the date [12/3/21],” Emma says. “But because it was about time we got married.”
The couple said their vows at Soundside Park in Surf City, which was followed by a reception at Diver Surfside Cafe with only 12 invited guests. “[It was] a far cry from the original 180-person guest list,” Emma says. “It was close to perfect and really intimate, and almost every person at the wedding made a toast.”
The couple lives in Charlotte.
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