Tendr Couple of the Month: David & Juliana
by Karina Parikh
Juliana Velez and David Occhipinti first knew about each other during their college years, when a mutual friend connected the two of them and suggested that they one day meet. Although Juliana was at Colorado State University and David was miles away at the University of Vermont at the time, they found themselves living in New York at the same time six years later and finally had a chance to set up their first date. They wholeheartedly agree that it was well worth the wait. “Our first date was magical,” says Juliana. “It felt so natural to be together from that very first moment and since then, we’ve hardly spent any time apart.”
The couple immediately bonded over a shared love of travel and adventure, and quickly became each other’s best travel companions. “We’re the type of travelers that just go with the flow and let the magic of each place take us away, and we love going to new places and having new adventures with no set itinerary,” says David. It was on one such trip to Portugal that David proposed during an evening stroll along the Lisbon waterfront. “I knew it was going to happen at some point during our trip, but I didn’t know when. It was unforgettable,” Juliana recalls. The pair celebrated with a walk through the city’s central plaza followed by champagne and traditional Portuguese canned fish.
In their true fashion, Juliana and David have chosen to have a destination wedding at one of their favorite locations: Shelburne Farms, a sustainable farm and education center nestled between the Adirondack Mountains and Green Mountains in Shelburne, Vermont. In addition to treating their guests to farm-to-table cuisine and stunning views, the couple has also planned unique ways to weave their own personalities into the day’s festivities. In honor of Juliana’s Colombian heritage, they have hired an eight-piece Cuban Son band to add a Latin flare to the wedding, and Juliana’s uncle will be providing coffee from his own company, Amor Perfecto. As for dessert, guests can look forward to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a Vermont classic.
While tradition dictates that couples ask for household items as wedding gifts, Juliana and David knew early on that they wanted to ask for gifts that are more pertinent to their minimalist, experience-driven lifestyle and commitment to helping others. Their cash gifts will go towards a honeymoon exploring the food, culture, and landscapes of Japan, as well as a dream cabin in Vermont where they can escape city life during any time of the year. “It’s where we’re happiest,” David says. It’s also where they see their family growing. Juliana says, “When visualizing it, I see a couple of golden retriever puppies running around the cabin.”
“From the moment that we started talking about what our special day would look like, I began searching for a way to incorporate an element of ‘giving back,’” Juliana mentions. “We wanted to find a platform that would allow us to receive funds for some of our adventures as well as allow folks to donate to an organization or project of our choice.” The couple is encouraging guests to donate to Charity:Water in their name, an organization that they’re particularly fond of. “I’ve spent my entire academic and professional career working with a variety of non-governmental and non-profit organizations. 100% of all donations go directly to the communities in which Charity:Water works. 1 in 10 people lack access to clean water around the world. As environmentalists and humanists, we both love what Charity:Water stands for and we wholeheartedly believe in it.” David adds, “This is a special day in our lives but it’s not just about us. We try to think beyond our daily lives and think of ways to create positive change.”
For them, Tendr is “the perfect wedding registry platform,” allowing them to invite their family and friends to help them work towards their dreams as they embark upon married life together and also support their favorite charity. “It solved everything and is exactly what we needed. Plus it’s beautiful, personal, easy to use and the customer service is amazing."