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A Minimalist Micro Wedding and Tea Ceremony in the Berkshires

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When Julie Nguyen toured the medical school she had just been accepted to in April 2016, she wasn’t expecting to find her person in one fell swoop. Julie decided to visit her childhood best friend who attended the institution and came across another student, Miguel Joaquin. “We met that night, and the rest is, as they say, history,” the couple shares.

Eight months later, the duo went on their first date to watch a local Michigan theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast and sip on cocktails at a live jazz lounge. At the cocktail lounge, the pair ended up sitting next to another couple who was celebrating their anniversary. “[Julie and I] talked the night away. At the end, they asked how long we had been married and were very surprised to hear we were currently on our first date. We were so happy to share it with them,” Miguel recalls. “While walking Julie home, we stopped, and I pretty much professed how perfect the night was and how we should be boyfriend and girlfriend.”

After two-and-a-half years of dating, the duo planned a “tour de Miguel” in honor of the many places Miguel lived while growing up. “I thought proposing at the end of the tour would be the perfect plan,” Miguel says. “I would be able to take Julie through my life and tell the numerous stories that fill your head once you experience the nostalgia of your childhood.” The final destination was the same spot where Miguel had asked Julie to be his girlfriend a few years before. It was a full-circle moment.

Since the couple started planning their wedding during the pandemic, they experienced a lot of uncertainty. At the same time, they were both working in residency, so they struggled to find the time and energy to sufficiently map out the details of their big day. Thanks to their wedding planner, Bryan Finocchio of 33 Munroe, they were able to persevere. “We linked up with Bryan right at the start of the planning process and really just followed his lead on everything,” the couple notes. “We shared our vision with him, and it was essentially a year of email chains and phone calls building our perfect weekend together.”

On August 21, 2022, Julie and Miguel swapped vows in an intimate ceremony with just 20 guests at an Airbnb in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. “We are both extremely family-oriented people and just wanted a weekend that focused on family and love without all the frills and stress that can sometimes accompany a big wedding,” the couple explains. Below are the stunning details of their Vietnamese tea ceremony and Western wedding, planned by 33 Munroe and photographed by Heather Jowett.

The couple planned a wedding weekend that infused elements of Julie’s Vietnamese heritage, Miguel’s Dominican background, and Western culture. They established their three-day schedule and set the tone of their classic black-and-white color palette with an itinerary, which featured a minimalist design and an illustration of their wooded setting. 

The duo kicked off the weekend with a Vietnamese tea ceremony as a nod to Julie’s culture. The ritual consisted of lighting candles and serving their parents tea as a sign of respect and gratitude. The altar exhibited traditional décor painted in red hues, and also featured an unexpected pop of pink, per the bride’s request.

The bride and groom both wore custom-made attire for the tea ceremony. Julie sported a red long-sleeve tulle gown with gold embroidery, pearl-studded heels, and a red hat. Miguel donned a navy blue garment covered in colorful circular patterns.

After the Vietnamese ceremony, the pair celebrated over dinner on the deck outside of their Airbnb venue with their loved ones. The duo and their guests sat on ghost chairs at one long wooden table, which they had lined with white votive candles and red single-stem flowers in bud vases. Lucite chargers, black napkins, and black flatware comprised the understated place settings.

For her special day, Julie wore her hair down in loose curls and settled on a natural makeup look. “I essentially just wanted to look like an elevated version of myself,” the bride illustrates. She finished off her beauty prep with a French manicure and a spritz of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.

Julie stunned in a long-sleeve crepe trumpet dress with a bateau neckline and a cowl back. After trying on countless wedding dresses during back-to-back appointments and not finding anything she loved, Julie felt defeated. At her last appointment of the day, she found this dress. How did she know it was the one? “My dad started crying the moment I came out in it,” she remembers. The bride accessorized with diamond and pearl drop earrings from BHLDN, a gold ring from her parents, and a cathedral-length veil.

Miguel looked dapper in all black for the big day. He rocked a black Vera Wang tuxedo from Men’s Wearhouse, a black dress shirt, and a black bow tie. He paired his ensemble with a gold Cuban link chain that Julie gave him as a wedding gift.

The duo swapped vows in front of a round arbor adorned with white blooms and greenery. Ghost chairs were scattered across the lawn and faced the altar.

Julie and her father walked down the aisle while a live string trio played “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. A bouquet of white hydrangea, orchids, ranunculus, and dahlia paired with silver dollar eucalyptus and Italian ruscus also accompanied her procession.  

The bride and groom personalized their ceremony by writing their own vows. They also selected a special reading, “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran.

The happy couple exited the ceremony to their string trio’s rendition of “Holy” by Justin Bieber.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds captured the moment by snapping portraits in the nearby forest. 

We wanted a place that was intimate and felt like home that we could share with our families for the entire weekend.

For reception number two, the pair went back to their Airbnb’s deck. “We wanted a place that was intimate and felt like home that we could share with our families for the entire weekend,” they say of their venue. They hosted their celebratory dinner at another banquet table, but this time, they had it wrapped in white linens. A runner of white votive candles and floral arrangements of hydrangea, ranunculus, sweet pea, and roses captured a similar minimalist aesthetic.

Each place setting had black napkins tucked underneath acrylic chargers, which were affixed with simple menu cards and a white orchid. Black flatware bordered the setup.

The couple served tapas with local ingredients for their special meal. “We had the caterer completely surprise us with the menu,” they say. “We just shared our vision with her that we wanted multiple small plate courses, and she took it from there.”

After dinner, the couple listened to speeches from their friends and family. They even shared a few words with their guests.

Julie and Miguel swayed to “Stay With You” by John Legend for their first dance as newlyweds.

The couple spent the rest of the evening having a dance party full of salsa and merengue with their loved ones. They even finished off the evening with a dip in the pool. Looking back on their big day, Julie and Miguel couldn’t have imagined anything more picture-perfect. Even though planning a wedding was stressful, the duo overcame every difficulty by leaning on one another. “Try to communicate with your partner as much as possible,” they share. “Being committed to tackling the wedding planning process together, no matter how big or small the issue, will go a long way.”

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