By KJ Philp, August 2018 Issue.
This summer marks five years together for newlyweds Nicole Newman and Sofia Lainfiesta.
Lainfiesta was born in Guatemala, grew up in Spain and Guatemala, and moved to the United States 15 years ago. At a young age, Newman and her family moved from Northern California to Arizona.
Their wedding was the culmination of more than just big-day decision making. Because their relationship was new, this process involved getting to know each other on a deeper level, careful communication, meeting future in-laws for the first time and incorporating conventional wedding elements as well as starting their own traditions.
“I knew very quickly after meeting Sofia that this was leading to forever,” Newman shared. “I wanted to show her my commitment and decided to propose after six months, a little slower than the third date U-Haul … ‘classic lesbian’ expectations!”
As the new couple hit the road for a day hike in Sedona, Lainfiesta admits Newman’s proposal was the ultimate surprise.
“First she made me drive (I dislike driving!). Second, she was very nervous, and I assumed due to my driving. Third, we passed several hiking spots driving into Sedona, so I was confused why we were going somewhere so secluded,” Lainfiesta recalled. “ … I had no idea that a hike in Sedona six months after we met, was going to become a proposal."
Upon reaching the top of the rocks, with a one-of-a-kind red rock backdrop, Lainfiesta was taking pictures of the magical view and turned around to find Newman down on one knee.
“Sofia screamed and yelled that awful word that no one proposing wants to hear,” Newman recalled. “Later, I found out she was so surprised she was going to say ‘No way’ (in shock), but caught herself … after yelling ‘no.’ Thankfully she quickly corrected her answer to ‘YES!’”
The couple’s venue must-haves included an outdoor space and an intimate setting priced within the budget they’d set. Newman’s father offered his backyard as a venue option, and the brides were able to create the romantic candle-lit environment they desired.
“We could create our own venue style with no limitations,” Newman said, “which allowed us to truly make the most beautiful outcome – with lanterns, candlelight tables and a beautiful background piece we got married in front of – all hand-made with the gracious help of some very dear friends!”
While this venue would limit the guest list, Lainfiesta was already realizing that her bride-to-be’s desire for a smaller and more intimate ceremony was a good fit for them.
The year prior to their wedding date, the brides-to-be attended Pride Guide’s LGBT Wedding & Honeymoon Expo where they discovered several vendors they were interested in using. By setting appointments to find out more, they were able to make informed decisions on who would best meet their needs.
"I really enjoyed the food tastings they held, which was a full menu, which is important to me, as I am quite the foodie," Lainfiesta said. “I absolutely love Heidi’s Catering in Tempe … They really took a lot of stress off our shoulders. They were very accommodating with all the changes I frequently made.”
For Newman, having their wedding captured with photos to recall memories and look back on would be important. So finding a photographer was her top priority.
“I had worked with Megan Robbins with Megan Robbins Photography previously, so I knew she would be a great fit to help us capture our precious and once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Newman said. “She was always so available to talk, and really got to know us before the wedding – knowing who’s who and what we really wanted and didn’t want. She, in a very caring way, took control of things so that we got all the memories captured [which] really helped our day go so smoothly. She really is a one of a kind person who really cares about what she does.”
If you have the opportunity to attend a wedding expo as part of your planning process, these brides say absolutely go for it.
“Attending a wedding expo can be overwhelming … but also very helpful having so many vendors and services in one place,” Newman said. “I strongly encourage having a budget in mind before going, so you can make sure you’re aware of what you can spend, or not spend, and figure out what should and shouldn’t make the cut to stay within your budget.”
For these blushing brides, their wedding day wardrobe was less about tradition and more about honoring the wishes of their soon-to-be spouse.
“I never dreamed of wearing a white dress, but Nicole really wanted to see me in a traditional white wedding dress,” Lainfiesta said. “It took a little convincing, but I finally went dress shopping at several places, including the large big-name wedding shops to more intimate boutique shops. I fell in love with LUV Bridal in downtown Phoenix. From the moment I walked in I was treated like royalty ... they [created] a memorable shopping experience [for me], my friend and my son, which created memories I will not forget.”
Similarly, Lainfiesta has expressed that she’d like to see Newman in a light gray three-piece suit.
“The good news is I love the look of a sharp three-piece suit, so this was an easy decision,” Newman said.
Having met a gentleman from Nick’s Menswear at Pride Guide's LGBT Wedding Expo, Newman’s first stop was the Arrowhead Mall location.
“They were just phenomenal," she said. "Amazing customer service in finding me the right color suit, all the accessories, tailored the suit to fit me just right, and the price was quite reasonable. I’ve even gone back and purchased more dress slacks and accessories based on their products and customer service.”
The Wedding Party
The brides agreed to buck tradition a bit in terms of a wedding party.
“We decided to have our wedding with no party, just the two of us. We wanted to keep it simple and allow our friends and family to enjoy themselves,” they shared. “We did include Sofia’s son, Inigo, and Nicole’s 3-year-old niece, Amelia, to deliver the rings during the ring exchange portion of the ceremony.”
Because family is so important to both of the brides, setting the date for a time when both families could attend was critical.
Most of Newman’s family lives in Phoenix, but most of Lainfiesta’s family lives in Guatemala, so the brides planning well in advance was critical to allowing everyone time to coordinate to travel.
“We were very fortunate that many of our family could attend,” the brides agreed, “including our dear friends who have become family too!”
While the brides did escape to San Diego for a few days after their wedding to destress and have some alone time, they wanted to take their actual honeymoon somewhere that they both had a strong desire to travel to, somewhere that had special meaning to them and, since they enjoy food, somewhere to get a great culinary experience, too.
"After debating a few places, we decided on New York City," Newman said. "We postponed our honeymoon nine months so that we could plan and save for our trip, also to avoid the winter cold in November in the Big Apple."
The newlyweds declined staying in a hotel, in favor of renting an apartment in Brooklyn, "to really get the true New York City experience of living like locals, including using the Subway to travel around the city." This allowed Sofia to research some great restaurants of various ethnicities and cultures and gave Nicole, a big sports fan, the opportunity to see watch the Yankees play at their iconic ballpark.
The Biggest Lesson
Both brides agree, the most important tool for navigating the wedding planning process was communication.
“Sounds ... cliché, but quite true,” Newman said. “Talking out our individual wants and dislikes of our desired dream wedding [was key to] making sure we worked together and met our needs ... Sofia is quite the visionary with creativity, while I’m more the structured number person, so while she made the ideas of how the wedding looked, I made sure it remained in budget."
Although the planning and wedding itself should be a memorable time in your life, the brides don't sugar coat the fact that it can also become quite stressful.
“Take your time to decide what both couples vision before going ‘shopping’ for venues/vendors/styles,” Lainfiesta said, adding that a clear agreement of what you’re going for will reduce confusion, time and stress while shopping and planning. "Budget can be difficult, but you can become very creative in still making a beautiful and joyous wedding on any budget, just takes some creativity.”
Newman agrees with her wife, adding that she always remind people to not get too caught up or stressed out.
“In the end its really about the couple and their love for each other … Do what makes YOU happy,” Newman offered. “It can be easy to be influenced by family and friends of expectations, but truly this is your wedding and you when you look back at your wedding, you want to be happy and smile at the experience you had.