A Former Paper Mill Brought Industrial Vibes to This Autumnal Affair

Holyoke's Mill 1 at Open Square offered a picture-perfect backdrop for an October bash.

October 24, 2020
Mill 1 at Open Square
Holyoke, Massachusetts


Photo by Flavio D Photography


For José Quinones, proposing to longtime girlfriend Tiara Alston during a trip to Thailand seemed like the perfect plan—until the nerves kicked in. “I had the ring in my pocket for almost three days,” he says. “I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to ask, but I got a little gun-shy.” Still, José was determined to follow through. While the couple visited a tiny vegan cafe, the groom-to-be “went to the bathroom to work myself up, came back, and popped the question,” José says. Of course, Tiara said yes. “I was pretty surprised,” she says.

When it came to their wedding two years later, the pair sought a spacious venue with industrial vibes. Holyoke’s Mill 1 at Open Square, a former paper mill with exposed-brick walls and warm pine beams, was an ideal fit. “I wanted that look,” Tiara says of the historical space, which dates back to the 19th century. “And they’ve restored the building so beautifully.”

With their venue secured, the couple forged ahead with the rest of the planning process, working with Events by Jackie M on nuptials that would include a customized ceremony with original vows and a festive dinner. And although the COVID-19 outbreak ultimately forced José and Tiara—who’s a nurse—to shrink their guest list by more than 100 attendees, the now-newlyweds say they wouldn’t change the way their special day unfolded. “At the time we were planning the wedding, I was also working in a COVID ICU going through the initial phases [of the pandemic] when it was really unknown and scary,” Tiara says. “After everything we’d been through, I just wanted to get married and didn’t care about all the details.” Plus, as José says, hosting a smaller wedding had its benefits. “The smaller guest count made it a bit more intimate,” he says. “It was just as special, if not more.”


jose_tiara_first look

Photo by Flavio D Photography

The couple’s first look was one of the groom’s favorite moments of the day. “When I saw Tiara in her dress, she blew me away,” José says. “I cried. It was just amazing to see her.”


Photo by Flavio D Photography

Floral designer Christine Adams of Badger’s Flowers & Co. dressed up a triangular ceremony arch with a range of greenery and blooms. 


Photo by Flavio D Photography

Because they had to decrease the size of their invite list from 135 guests to just 21, the couple hired a media company to livestream the ceremony and ensuing reception for loved ones who couldn’t attend in person. “It was a huge addition because we could make eye contact with them and wave,” José says. “It was great to have people who we initially wanted at our wedding to still kind of be there.”


Photo by Flavio D Photography

Tiara and José worked with an officiant at Grace Ceremonies to plan a highly personalized celebration complete with readings by family members and a unity-candle lighting. “It wasn’t exactly traditional,” the bride says. “We [did] what felt good to us.”


Photo by Flavio D Photography

Knowing that dancing would be limited due to COVID restrictions, the couple hired caricature artist Don Landgren Jr. to help keep guests entertained.


Photo by Flavio D Photography

The lush centerpieces on the dinner tables featured everything from seasonal flowers to artichokes.


Photo by Flavio D Photography

In addition to a lemon-raspberry cutting cake adorned with a topper that Tiara ordered on Etsy, Westfield-based bakery Frosted Swirl Cupcakes whipped up pecan pie- and jelly doughnut-flavored confections for guests to take home.


Photo by Flavio D Photography

Mounted on a leafy backdrop, a custom LED light offered a unique photo op for the couple and their guests.  


Bride’s Dress Ve’Lace Bridal
Cake/Desserts Frosted Swirl Cupcakes
Caricature Artist Partoons: Caricatures by Don Landgren Jr.
Caterer Seth Mias Catering
DJ DJ Dcaso
Flowers Badger’s Flowers & Co.
Groom’s Suit Zara
Officiant Grace Ceremonies
Photographer Flavio D Photography
Planner Events by Jackie M
Rentals Ivy’s Events; Michael’s Party Rentals; Peak Event Services
Videographer CJC Event Lighting

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