This Couple Filled Their Wedding Tent with Palm Trees as a Nod to Their Miami Locale
It's hard to believe that Sofia and Alberto didn't cross paths before November of 2014: The pair attended the same elementary school in Miami and even knew each other's siblings. When Sofia graduated from college, she moved to New York City and became involved in organizing an annual fundraiser for a Cuban charity. As fate would have it, the two met at the event and began dating right away.
Throughout their dating relationship, the pair spent every Easter weekend in Miami catching up with family and attending their favorite tennis tournament. In March 2018, the pair flew down to Florida with plans to celebrate Alberto's sister's birthday in addition to their ritual holiday and sporting event. When Alberto insisted on hitting the beach just before the tennis tournament, Sofia definitely didn't just go with the flow. "I remember thinking, 'Why is he wearing a backpack and why is he insisting on going to the beach?'" Despite her initial reluctance, Sofia met Alberto in the sand and was surprised with a heartfelt proposal. The birthday party that night was actually a surprise engagement party for the happy couple.
They planned their September 21, 2018, ceremony at the church they both grew up attending in Miami, and invited 375 guests to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida for the reception. "We both grew up down the street from it, and it is a five-minute car ride from the church, so it was an easy choice," Sofia says, "Alberto's mom is also involved with Fairchild and helps organize their annual gala, so we knew it would be easier on us to choose that venue, since we would be planning from New York and Chicago."
Invitations with a Tropical Touch
With an overall color palette of white, green, and yellow, the couple's wedding invitations gave guests their first taste of Miami. The design represented the vibrancy of the venue and incorporated meaningful motifs like a blue jay to represent New York, where the couple met, and a Florida panther on the back to represent their home state. "In total, the design process took five or six months. While it was hard work, I definitely think it was worthwhile!" Sofia says.
Finding the One
This bride considered finding her wedding dress the easiest decision of the entire planning process. "A month after I got engaged, Carolina Herrera's Spring 2019 bridal collection came out," Sofia says, "I saw my dress and had a strong feeling it would be the one." Her mom flew to Miami for the weekend to attend a few bridal appointment; Carolina Herrera ended up being their first and only stop.
Although Sofia tried on several dresses in the store, she noticed another bride trying on the dress she had spotted earlier. "It was stunning, and my mother and I immediately exchanged a look acknowledging that this was it," she says. Once she got the approval of her mom, her cousin, and the bridal consultant, she decided the modern Italian crepe column gown with a detachable cape was the perfect choice.
For the finishing touch, Sofia chose a cathedral length Carolina Herrera veil, white slingback Manolo Blahnik pumps, heirloom diamond earrings, and a headpiece made from two diamond broaches borrowed from her aunt.
Sofia's bouquet featured white tulips, daisies, and ranunculus, with ferns and dusty miller for some added texture.
Alberto wore a morning suit, which is typically worn during daytime weddings in Europe. He paired his ensemble with a Ferragamo tie and matching vest and monogrammed gold cuff links that once belonged to his grandfather, his namesake. His boutonnière featured white ranunculus.
The Wedding Party
Sofia and Alberto decided not to have a traditional wedding party; instead, they asked their sisters, brothers, and cousins to take part in the ceremony (without all of the responsibilities that typically are asked of bridesmaids and groomsmen). These VIPs were asked to wear soft spring colors and patterns.
The Ceremony Details
The ceremony took place at Epiphany Catholic Church, in Miami, Florida. Growing up, both Sofia and Alberto spent Sundays with family at this church, so it was an easy venue choice. "The priest who married us also administered most of our other sacraments and is a close friend of both of our families, so we knew we wanted him to marry us!" Sofia says. The church only allowed flowers at the altar, so they displayed two large mostly-white arrangements featuring tulips and daisies on either side.
While live musicians played Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," Alberto made his way down the aisle with his mother, followed by Sofia's mother and Alberto's father, and then Sofia's sister. When Sofia made her way down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon in D accompanied by her father, it was the first time Alberto laid eyes on his bride.
The Cocktail Hour
Although the happy couple took portraits during cocktail hour, they made sure to make the last half of the interlude to spend time with friends and family before the tented reception began. They served a Champagne and raspberry cocktail paired with passed appetizers that included Spanish and Cuban dishes (like crispy plantain tostones with crème fraiche and salmon and béchamel croquetas). A guitarist and violinist set the tone for a laid-back cocktail hour before the party began.
Among the Palm Trees
The party tent was tucked inside a circle of palm trees (and was nearly as tall!); the lush exterior only foreshadowed the tropical-themed décor inside.
Palm Tree Poles
Sofia wanted to make sure the wedding represented Miami, so she and Alejandro Muguerza of Le Basque added plenty of exotic touches to the otherwise fresh and elegant design. The reception tent contained a mix of rectangular, square, and circular tables set with alternating linens. While some tables had beige coverings, others had a white-and-yellow patterned tablecloth, adding an instant pop of color to the space. The tent poles were made to look like palm trees—a nod to the real thing just outside.
Long tables held white flower arrangements in small clay pots and silver candelabras embellished with oak branches and greenery. The square and round tables were topped with larger centerpieces and candles. Place settings featured white porcelain plates with gold scalloped bordering and green goblets.
Time to Eat
Dinner started with a seafood salpicon with baby scallops, lobster tail, and shrimp, followed by a glazed beef short rib served with roasted Brussels sprouts for the main course. They also offered a vegan option for both courses to make sure every guest enjoyed a delicious meal.
On the Floor
After dancing with their parents to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," the bride and groom shared their first spin to "Best of My Love" by The Emotions. "We wanted to seamlessly transition into the party from that dance," Sofia says. "Towards the end, Alberto and I motioned to everyone to come join us. No one left the dance floor after that moment!"
This couple chose a three-tiered vanilla flavored cake embellished with daisies and greenery.
Sofia and Alberto offered guests some of their favorite Spanish and Cuban dishes as the night came to a close, including pulled pork sliders, Spanish tortillas, and churros served with hot chocolate.
Photography, Merari Teruel
Ceremony Venue, Epiphany Catholic Church
Reception Venue, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Event Planning and Coordination, Melissa Davis
Event and Floral Design, Alejandro Muguerza, Le Basque
Invitations, Cheree Berry Paper
Catering, Le Basque
Bride's Gown and Veil, Carolina Herrera
Bride's Shoes, Manolo Blahnik
Groom's Accessories, Ferragamo
Music, Tropics Entertainment
Linens, Nuage Designs
Lighting, JM Design Lighting and Fabric
Paper, House and Paper
Favors, Little Lilis