This post contains affiliate links. Catalyst Wedding Co. may receive compensation or products from companies linked to or mentioned in this article. This helps support our site.
Andrea and I both grew up in Ponce, a warm city in the southern part of Puerto Rico. Andrea spent most of her early childhood at the Museum of Art in Ponce, where her mother worked as the director of cultural activities. Picture a Puerto Rican Eloise — surrounded by renown pieces of art, running freely through the museum gardens stealing pomegranates, helping in the restoration lab, and even becoming Frida Kahlo herself for a special display. I, on the other hand, spent my first years in Florida where my parents had moved from the Island to start a family, as many in the Puerto Rican diaspora do. During this time, I was very busy being a big sister by the age of 5 and writing short stories about Puerto Rico —and my short-lived dream of being a spy. It wasn’t long until my parents decided it was best to be closer to our family, and we made the move back to Ponce.
We spent most of our young lives in the same neighborhoods — my grandmother lives just down the street from Andrea’s childhood home, and one of Andrea’s friends from grade school lived right across from mine. We frequented the same places, school activities, and had friends in common but never met until we were both at the University of Puerto Rico at Ponce working towards our bachelor’s degrees. Here, Andrea majored in psychology and I majored in biology. We moved to New York together in 2016 with our cat Olive Oil and the few things we could send in the mail to start graduate school. Andrea recently completed her master’s degree in psychology from The New School for Social Research, and I am currently working on my doctoral degree in neural science at NYU.
What was your proposal like?
In summer 2015, we both secured research internship opportunities outside of Puerto Rico. Andrea came to Manhattan while I went all the way to Minneapolis for ten weeks. It was our first time apart for such a long time and it was a challenge in a few ways, but we were trying our best to make our grad school dreams happen. Half-way through the summer, I had saved up enough to buy a ticket to NYC for my birthday during the last weekend in June. I took a cab from LaGuardia to the International House on the Upper West Side, where Andrea had been staying. We had a few days to explore the spots in the city that I had promised to show her back in 2014 when we met since I had just returned from my first internship experience at NYU. We visited Washington Square Park and spent the afternoon lounging on the grass until we decided to explore the shops on West 8th St. We came across a small Indian shop that sold beautiful jewelry and picked out some rings for each other without thinking too much of it. Later that evening we decided those would be our promise rings. It felt right.
The next day, I dropped Andrea off at her lab and then spent the morning in a meeting at NYU. It was Friday, June 26th. The meeting was abruptly interrupted by the news that the US Supreme Court had just made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states — including Puerto Rico. I rushed out of there, picked up flowers at the first bodega I found and made my way to 34th St, since Andrea had been given the rest of the day off in celebration. We spent that historical night celebrating at Stonewall in Greenwich Village, barely able to believe we were together living this moment as it was happening.
My birthday was the day after that, June 27th. We were sharing Andrea’s tiny dorm bed at the I-House, recovering from the night before. We read about the celebrations happening back home and started to get emotional at the realization that so many people, including us, would now be legally validated and protected as couples. We never expected to see this happen during our youth — and much less in Puerto Rico. It was then that Andrea gently took my promise ring from my finger and asked me if I would ever marry her. My first reaction was to cry, partly because just like that she foiled my own plans to propose to her on our graduation day the upcoming year… but of course, my answer was yes.
Why did you pick your wedding venue?
While searching for a photographer we came across De Nueva Photography’s blog on elopements at Central Park. In her blog, we saw pictures of ceremonies at the Ladies Pavilion and knew it was the perfect location for our wedding. Andrea had expressed that she wanted the day to feel magical, and we both wanted to be in touch with nature, so its vintage aesthetics combined with the early fall scenery and the skyline in the background went perfectly with our vision. The mint green color of the Pavilion also added a really special touch since Andrea has always associated that color with me.
What did you wear? Were any of the accessories or jewelry significant?
For our wedding day, we wore tea-length vintage-style dresses from ieie Bridal’s online shop. They had outstanding reviews, beautiful dresses, and were perfect for our budget. Our bridal heels were from ASOS — these were stolen from our building lobby twice but ASOS (and our super) really came through for us. As for significant jewelry, Andrea wore a blue opal bracelet I bought her for our first Valentine’s on a trip I made to St. Thomas. She had always expressed her love for opals, and it ended up being a perfect ‘something blue’ for our special day.
What elements made your day special?
Since we chose such a beautiful location, we didn’t add any décor. However, many elements made our day perfect. We got ready in what used to be our tiny studio apartment in Washington Heights; Andrea’s best friend of ~16 years did both our hair and makeup, which we practiced the night before for the first time. Andrea had ordered the Nabla Dreamy eyeshadow palette specifically because the color story was exactly what she wanted for our looks. Once we were all ready, we took a Lyft to Central Park, and got a pep talk from our Dominican driver on the way there to soothe our nerves and he gave us his blessing before dropping us off. After the ceremony, we walked through Central Park with all of our friends while Nicki Fietzer created stunning pictures of us. It was most important to us to have memories of this day that we could keep forever. We held our reception at Via Quadronno, our favorite Italian restaurant, where we also celebrated my birthday/our engagement in 2015. It was particularly special because our friends spoiled us with wine and every dessert on the menu, which we all shared.
What was your ceremony like?
Our ceremony was perfect. We had been worried all week that it would rain that afternoon, but the weather was absolutely ideal. The officiant was Judie Guild, a lovely forest fairy we found through Nicki Fietzer’s work, as well. We chose vows that reflected our view on marriage and Judie wrote a beautiful ceremony that felt perfectly tailored despite us having exchanged just a few emails. It felt serendipitous, in a way. Karla added a special touch, by reading a lovely message she wrote for us in Spanish and both Andrea and I also wrote each other a few words to read before saying our vows to each other. Moreover, during the ceremony we mostly couldn’t take our eyes off of each other, but the first time we did we realized that we had a crowd of strangers attending — some of whom were actually tearful. Overall, it was a day full of immense love and support that came from all sides, from us, from our friends and family and from the people of New York City.
Words by Carla as told to Amber Marlow. Photos by De Nueva Photography.
Photography | De Nueva Photography
Dresses | ieie bridal
Andrea’s Shoes | Be Mine Bridal on ASOS
Carla’s Shoes | ASOS Design
Andrea’s Ring | GNG Jewel
Carla’s Ring | FacetsandKarats
Andrea’s Earrings | JamJewels1
Carla’s Earrings | PVDVintageJewelry
Andrea’s Hair Piece | mylavaliere
Carla’s Hair Piece | TopGracia
Celebrant | Judie Guild
Hair/Makeup | Karla Nicole Oramas Reyes, our best friend and person of honor
Reception Venue | Via Quadronno
De Nueva Photography is a New York City photography studio specializing in elopements and weddings for fun, offbeat and adventurous couples from around the globe. I think getting your wedding photo taken should be an enjoyable, relaxed experience. I aim to capture you being you, hanging out, laughing and maybe sharing a snuggle with your favorite person in the world. When not taking pictures I'm a travel addict, a runner and a yogi who loves to cook in kitchens well stocked with wine.