September 21, 2019

Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford

Butler Photography

Noelymari Sanchez has long been an admirer of Samuel L. Clemens, aka author Mark Twain, who called Hartford home from 1871 to 1891. However, it isn’t so much Twain’s written work that has garnered Noelymari’s admiration and respect for so long (no offense intended, Huck or Tom), but rather his advocacy in the community. Twain was “very involved in politics and had a strong voice in the Hartford community,” Noelymari says. “He fought for social justice and equality, and I like what he stood for.” In fact, when Community Partners in Action, the Hartford nonprofit for which Noelymari serves as business operations administrator, was founded in 1875, Twain, she reports, was on its first board of directors. It thus seemed only fitting that when handsome Julio Velez asked Noelymari to be his wife, they chose Hartford’s landmark Mark Twain House & Museum as the setting for their Sept. 21, 2019, wedding.

Noelymari and Julio’s ceremony took place on the porch of the picturesque mansion, where they spoke their own vows — the part of the day that stood out the most for Julio. “One thing I really love about Noely is how selfless she is,” he says. “She is always putting other people first; everywhere we go everyone loves Noely.” There was, in fact, much the groom wanted to say to his beautiful bride, Julio says, but “we have a very strong faith, and vows are manmade. I chose to go a different route and instead say my vows to God on behalf of us and ask him to help us. It was tough to do in front of so many people, but it was important and I wanted to get it right. It’s God’s plan.”

For their reception in the museum, center table centerpieces were simple, but beautiful — stacks of vintage books in honor of Twain and the bride’s love for books. Julio’s oldest son Jonathan (he has three sons in total who are “completely taken with Noely”), gave a best-man speech that “came from the heart and stole the show,” says the proud father. Additional highlights included the newly married couple’s rousing entrance to the powerful island beat of Ricky Martin’s “Pégate,” for which Julio purchased 100 Puerto Rican flags for guests to wave in honor of their heritage, and their sizzling salsa to “I’ll Always Love You” by Tito Nieves. (“Wow!” Noelymari says, which was pretty much everyone’s reaction.)

In the end, “I wanted people to remember our day with love and happiness,” Noelymari says. “It was beautiful to see all the love surrounding us. It was exactly what we envisioned.”

officiant: The Hon. Maureen Price-Boreland

dress designer: Kathy Faber Designs, Bristol

shoes: Badgley Mischka

bridesmaids dresses: Kathy Faber Designs, Bristol

tuxedos: Jos. A. Bank, Glastonbury

videographer: VBM Productions, New Britain, and Retrospective Films, Hartford

dj: Titus Touch Music, Pennsylvania

caterer: Delicacy Catering, West Hartford

florist: Maria C., Hartford

cake: Kathy Gonzalez, New Britain

hair + makeup: Studio Gi’A, Newington

nails: Z Luxury Natural Nail Spa & Boutique, West Hartford

invitations: Vistaprint