For Sofia and Joseph, their very first post-grad careers proved to be invaluable — the pair first met in January 2010, when the two recent college-grads accepted jobs at an event planning company. "We were friends and colleagues for over a year and we were even lucky enough to travel around the United States on event tours, so we got to know each other very well," Sofia remembers. But timing wasn't quite right as Sofia was seeing someone else and it wasn't until she was single for eight months that she finally took Joey up on his dinner offer. "After that, we were inseparable!"
Three years later, the pair was gearing up to celebrate their birthdays in New York City (the two are born just three days apart!) when Joey surprised Sofia with the gift of a lifetime. "Two days before our trip we planned to have dinner with his parents to celebrate our birthdays," Sofia recalls. "I came home to a path of candles and petals leading me to our outside patio where Joey was waiting on one knee with 2,000 candles and lanterns. It was so intimate and breathtaking!" Once she said yes, Joey surprised his new fiancé with an engagement party that was just as shocking for their guests as it was for the bride-to-be. "He invited our friends and family to my mom's house for a 'surprise birthday party' for me," Sofia says. "As they arrived, they realized it wasn't a surprise birthday party, but rather a surprise engagement party!"
The pair spent just under a year planning their nuptials and, on November 8, 2014, Sofia and Joey exchanged vows in front of 140 guests in New Orleans, Louisiana. Keep reading to see all of Mark Eric's photos from their elegant ceremony and reception.
Sofia and Joseph knew they wanted a destination wedding weekend where guests would feel transported back in time. They worked with Wink Design & Events to plan a formal event with a 1940s feel in a palette that incorporated gold, pewter, rose gold, green, ivory, and champagne. To match the feel of their big day, the couple works with Lilian Designs Studio to create their classic white-and-gold invitation suite.
Sofia wanted a wedding-day look that felt romantic yet timeless, and finding her wedding dress proved to be a simple task. "I was casually shopping for dresses with my mom and decided to start by trying on different silhouettes to see which style was the most flattering for me," the bride remembers. "My Monique Lhuillier gown was the second I tried on!" She accessorized with her grandmother's earring, which every generation of brides in her family has worn, and a bouquet of white peonies, dusty miller, and gray brunia berries. "My bouquet included a locket that had a stone called an 'Azabache.' In the Cuban and Hispanic culture, babies and brides wear it as protection from the evil eye," Sofia says.
Rather than having a large bridal party, Sofia decided to have just two attendants, both splitting the role of maid-of-honor. She wanted their dresses to evoke the feel of old Hollywood glamour, and found just what she was searching for in pewter sequined gowns from Adrianna Papell.
The couple also had three flower girls, and each young member of the bridal party wore pewter dresses made by Dani Ferringo. "My youngest flower girl had a mini meltdown just seconds before walking down the aisle because she wanted to wear her hot pink cheetah printed ballerina flats," Sofia says. "There was so much tulle and they looked so cute that nobody noticed. And more importantly, she was happy!"
Joseph and his groomsmen didn't skimp on style, either. The groom donned a custom-made midnight blue tux while his attendants dressed in custom-made black versions.
"St. Joseph Church is one of the most gorgeous churches I have ever seen," Sofia says of their ceremony site. "As soon as I walked in, I knew that was where we'd get married." Since the interior of the church already lived up to the couple's glamorous expectations, they didn't need to bring in tons of décor. Instead, they lined the aisle with gold-candled lanterns and arrangements of white-and-green flowers. The couple's priest from Miami traveled to New Orleans to preside over Sofia and Joseph's traditional ceremony.
Following their I do's, Sofia and Joseph invited their guests to join them for a reception at the Elms Mansion. "It had the feeling a southern plantation home," the bride says. "The entire reception was a total dream." The party was held in an outdoor tent that was draped with champagne fabric and filled with chandeliers, hanging eucalyptus, and mirrored tables. Gold candelabras, centerpieces of lush white-and-green flowers, and gilded place settings helped transform the space.
The pair wanted to do something unexpected and statement making with their wedding cake, which was filled with vanilla cake and strawberry buttercream, so they decided to have it suspended over the corner of the dance floor and decorated it with plenty of fresh greenery and flowers.
Sofia and Joseph shared their first dance to Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is." "We loved the idea of having the long tables all surround the dance floor," the bride says of their set up. "It made our first dance so magical!"
For guests that needed a break, a luxurious lounge area was set up outside, where friends and family could watch as an artist live-painted the reception.
While the reception was a blast, the couple felt the party didn't really kick off until their late-night festivities. "After dinner and dancing, the after party really got started with confetti explosions while our brass band and grand Marshall led the guests on a parade back to the mansion where two dueling pianos were waiting for us," Sofia says. "It was a night full of surprise and nonstop excitement!"
"This day is all about making memories for you and your husband," Sofia reminds future brides. "It's true when they say the day goes by so fast. All that time, planning, anticipation, and stress, and then boom, it's over, so focus on the elements that will give you memories!"
Ceremony Venue: St. Joseph Church || Reception Venue & Catering: Elms Mansion || Wedding Planner: Wink Design & Events || Officiant: Reverend Father Richard Vigoa || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Monique Lhuillier, purchased at Chic Parisien || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Cat Vo of Aristocat Beauty || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Adrianna Papell || Groom's Attire: Bolado Clothiers || Flower Girl Attire: Frills and Fireflies || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Maurice's Jewelers || Bridesmaids' Monogram Necklaces: Gables Gems || Florist: Bella Blooms || Invitations & Escort Cards: Lilian Designs Studio || Other Paper Products: EE Invites || Welcome Packets: Paper Please Studio || Music: Michelle Richards; The Courtyard Kings; Felix and Fingers || Cake: The Sweet Life Bakery || Rentals: Décor to Remember; Julia Hohne; Classic Party Rentals || Transportation: Limo Livery || Accommodations: The Roosevelt New Orleans; Wyndham Garden Baronne Plaza New Orleans || Videographer: Montoto Productions || Painter: Alex Harvie || Photographer: Mark Eric
Want more glamorous wedding inspiration? Then you'll love watching a formal bash come to life in the video below!