Summer smoldered on a warm Italian September afternoon as Tumi and Jesse’s garden wedding unfolded in a World Heritage site in Southern Italy. Enveloped in greenery, the couple exchanged vows in the sun-drenched mediterranean gardens of a private villa nestled within the rolling hills of ancient city Paestum. Set beneath preserved ancient Greek temples dating back to the 6th century, a floral arch mirrored the surrounding trees, accentuating the natural beauty of Villa Andrea’s grounds, which overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Photographer Jeroen Noordzij artfully captured the Italian garden wedding.
Names / Tumisola Ladega-Hewitt & Jesse Hewitt
Wedding Date / September 30th, 2022
Location / Paestum, Italy
Guest Numbers / 140
How We Met
I noticed him long before we really properly met. A second year uni student at the time, I wasn’t out to find romance and certainly wasn’t looking for that kind attention. I’d just joined the church he’d joined a year earlier and happened to end up involved with a small area he oversaw helping new people get connected.
Naturally we’d talk a bit each week, mostly informational just to know what was going on and what we were focusing on each week. Until he started asking me other questions…
I’d always thought he was cute, so I went with it. Ice skating turned into dinners and quickly into spending entire days talking, cooking and laughing over everything and nothing.
Our Engagement Story
It was just before my birthday and Jesse had sneakily planned with all my girlfriends that I was going to be going out to lunch with them. Instead, Jesse turned up at my door with flowers and took me to lunch at this amazing restaurant called Hide which overlooks Green Park in Mayfair. He gave me a beautiful dress earlier in the week as an early birthday present so I could ‘wear it out with the girls’ and through the help of my sister made sure my nails and hair were on point.
After lunch we walked through Berkley square gardens where he’d set up a surprise picnic and flowers and proposed to me in the centre square. It had rained all day up to an hour before and the sun came out right as we made it to the spot.
My Dad had just arrived in town the day before and I thought we were going to just go home have a nice dinner with my family, but was instead surprised to find all our close friends hiding in my kitchen too. We popped some prosecco, laughed, cried and danced all night. Was a dream come true.
Marriage to us means
As Christians we believe marriage was created by God to be a reflection of his unfailing love, commitment and promise to the world depicted through our relationship with Jesus. We believe marriage is for life and an image of sacrificial love where we preference the other.
Villa Andrea is based in Paestum, a rural town in Southern Italy. It’s nestled in the foothills of the mountains, with stunning views of the ocean and coastlines of Amalfi and Capri. It felt like it ironically depicted our story. Perfectly different but perfectly matched. We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding and what drew us to Villa Andrea were the grounds, and how each part of the venue felt like a totally new experience that just kept getting better and better. On the wedding day itself our highlight was dusk. Watching the sun set over the Tyrrhenian Sea, with our dearest family and friends in this fairytale castle of a venue was truly a surreal moment. One of the many we will cherish forever.
Our words were classic, garden and chic. We both love minimal aesthetics and we knew we wanted the scenery and grounds to speak for itself. We opted for whites and neutrals with a touch of black for contrast.
We were both staying at The Savoy Beach Hotel with our families and our bridal party was at a neighbouring hotel, The Esplanade. Jesse got ready with his groomsmen there whilst I got ready with my mum and bridesmaid at The Savoy. It was a super chill morning, we both had breakfast with our families before getting ready, which was a great way to start the day.
I had bought some getting ready pyjamas for my bridesmaids so I gave that to them in the morning, which they loved. We started off listening to Afrobeats to get the vibe going and slowly transitioned into worship which quickly turned the dancing into crying. I remember we listened the So in Love by Maverick city music, which was one of the songs I walked down the aisle to and I couldn’t help but cry. It was a very emotional morning.
“Villa Andrea is based in Paestum, a rural town in Southern Italy. It’s nestled in the foothills of the mountains, with stunning views of the ocean and coastlines of Amalfi and Capri. It felt like it ironically depicted our story. Perfectly different but perfectly matched.”
I was very picky with the selection of our wedding photographer. I knew I wanted someone who captured the moments, the emotions and really created an accurate and organic story of our day. This is what led us to the work of Jeroen Noordzij, his work is sentimental and stylish, editorial yet raw and perfectly encapsulated what we wanted from the day. He was incredibly professional and personable in the whole lead up to the day, making us feel at ease knowing that he saw the vision of what we had spent months planning. And best of all, he’s just a fun and enthusiastic guy who we simply enjoyed having at our wedding. We had high expectations for our photos and we were truly blown away with what we got.
I found Nates work through a couple that I absolutely adore called Tori and Chad on youtube. What I loved about his work was how he also captured the emotions, and his emphasis on the vows and words spoken throughout the day. His work is more than a video, it’s a story, and we knew instantly that we could trust him completely to capture ours. Nate is actually based in the United States, and was incidentally in Europe visiting family at the time of our wedding which seemed too perfect to simply be a coincidence. He went above and beyond for us, and created our dream video, we will forever be grateful!
The ceremony was held on the beautiful grounds of Villa Andrea. We set up in a tree lined garden which overlooked the mountain, already having such a sense of ceremony that we didn’t want to saturate it with too many decorations.
At the altar we had a deconstructed arch built to mirror the shape of the trees and down the aisle trailed white and pink flora and greenery. We ended up going for the white iron garden chairs which were not initially our first choice but ended up looking perfect in the space, with its endearing Italian charm nicely capturing our theme of classic, garden chic.
Our vision for the reception decor was an intimate low-lit dinner so we went for warm fairy lights and candles. For the table setting we wanted to mix traditional glassware and cutlery with modern plates and stationery, to emulate the classic yet simple aesthetic. The main colours used in the settings, flowers and stationery were whites and neutrals with a touch of black, these soft tones looked gorgeous in the warm lighting.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
Simona was our wedding planner, she assisted with everything from the venue, decorations, flowers, sound, transport and more. She was absolutely incredible and was our middle women for all our vendors. She helped execute our vision for the styling and arrangements as well as how we wanted the atmosphere and overall experience to be for our guests. There wasn’t one thing she couldn’t do or help with. When we look back we always say the wedding day absolutely would not have been possible without her, and she is the reason we were actually able to enjoy the day itself without feeling any stress or pressure.
To keep on the classic and romantic feel we opted for white roses and Gypsophila wedding flowers, we also wanted some variation of shape and tone so we mixed them with white orchids and dried flowers, coupled pale pink roses for added colour. For the greenery it felt fit to choose olive branches to represent our southern Italian location. My bouquet by Enza Cinolo was initially a mix of our flower selection but on the morning of the wedding upon seeing the final arrangement, I made a last minute decision to change it to all orchids. They were perfect, delicate and simple, the best decision I could have made.
Find our handpicked edit of Florists around the world on the Directory.
“Watching the sun set over the Tyrrhenian Sea, with our dearest family and friends in this fairytale castle of a venue was truly a surreal moment.”
We had a lot of fun with the wedding stationery and invitations for our Wedding. Tumi actually hand painted a map of the west coast which we printed on the back of our invites and she also designed the menus and name cards herself. We wanted light pale colors with dainty elegant typography that was consistent across all our stationary.
We aren’t big cake people, and knew we didn’t want the classic tier wedding cake so we went for Millefoglie which is a traditional Italian wedding cake made from layers of beautifully crisp pastry topped, whipped cream and berries.
We had a traditional Nigerian wedding two weeks prior where we organised multiple gifts to our guests. So we decided for our white wedding we wanted favors that were simple and practical, so we made custom white silk fans. On the week of the wedding the weather forecast was 100% thundery showers for our wedding day which was initially terrifying, but we prayed along with our family for sunshine and God answered our prayers. It didn’t rain one drop. In fact, it shined so much that our guests not only used the fans to cool themselves from heat, but as a shield from the sun. It was a miracle and ended up being the perfect gift.
Food & Beverages
Mia Catering was definitely one of the highlights of our wedding. They went above and beyond and created the most incredible gastronomy experience. On arrival our guests were greeted with fresh lemonade and Aquafrescaio.
The ceremony was followed by aperitivo where we had canapés, and a corner for grilled seafood and meats, casaro, ortolano and sushi, accompanied with an array of cocktails, wine and prosecco.
For the reception we had a four course sit down dinner. At this point all of our guests were so full it ended up being more of a tasting menu than anything. This was followed by a gorgeous dessert platter served alongside our wedding cake. Then at the end of the night they served our guests mortadella sandwiches for the road. It’s safe to say nobody went home hungry.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
I always knew I wanted a fitted, square neck embellished wedding dress, but after tons of searching I couldn’t find one that I liked with a price I was willing to spend. As a fashion designer I am very particular and knew I couldn’t settle for anything less than what I wanted. So after some deliberation I decided to make my own wedding dress. It took 5 months to finish, and came out so much better than I could have imagined. After months of cutting, sewing, embellishing, and self-fitting, looking back it was the best decision I could have made, and the most special experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I actually enjoyed it so much I have been considering growing it into a business for custom made bridal gowns. My shoes were from a small brand called New Bella.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
We both wanted primarily gold bands. Jesse’s is a 4mm solid band and mine is a full coverage crystal in set 1.5mm band. Jesse got my engagement ring custom made by a friend from church, it has an oval cut with a solid gold band.
I wanted dainty and understated jewelry that nicely reflected the crystal pearl embellishment of the gown.
Hair & Makeup
I wore my hair down in a centre part with large wavy curls. I wanted something elegant and simple, and not too far from how I normally style my hair. My bridesmaid Lisa Hooper did my make-up for the wedding which was so special. For my makeup I wanted a glowing, natural look with subtle touches of bronze and pink. She absolutely nailed it.
“If I could encourage myself with one thing looking back, it would be that the people at the wedding are the most important part. So when planning, always prioritize the guests and the shared experience over the inanimate details.”
We didn’t plan anything fancy for our transport. Jesse travelled in a car with his groomsmen and I travelled with my mom and bridesmaids. We booked a coach from our hotel to take our family to the venue. Also, we actually stayed in the venue on the night of the wedding so we didn’t require any transport home which was great.
We planned to go to Egypt for our honeymoon because we wanted a super chill all-inclusive holiday to fully recover from the wedding. However, when we arrived at the airport to catch our flight we realised that our flight did not show up on any of the systems. To our shock, our flight was cancelled a month earlier without any update or notice. This meant we had to cancel our honeymoon at the airport, and plan a new one. That same night we booked a flight to Greece and ended up spending a week in Santorini. Despite the shock and disappointment, it ended up being amazing. We loved the food, the scenery and the weather was perfect, so it worked out in the end.
We created our gift registry through our wedding website, withjoy. We were absolutely blown away by the support and generosity of our friends and family. Prior to the wedding, Jesse shared a flat with a friend and I lived with my parents so we both did not own a thing. However, now we have a beautiful apartment in London, and we can safely say almost everything in it was a wedding gift. Everyday we get to wake up to the love and kindness of our family and friends and we will forever be grateful.
Ceremony Song: So In Love By Maverick City
After Ceremony Song: Father Stretch By Sunday Service Choir
First Dance: Yours By Ella Henderson
During the aperitivo the vibe was set by a live Saxaphone player who performed modern hits and classics in a jazz style, everybody loved it! We created the playlist for our wedding but we had a DJ perform the curated list on the day.
Our celebrant was our Pastor and dear friend, because of his heart for us and Jesus we knew we could trust him to lead our ceremony. He absolutely blew us away with his message on marriage and its reflection of Christ and His Church, it was everything we wanted more.
We wrote our own vows, and were hesitant to do so at first because we didn’t want it to feel corny and awkward. However, it ended up being everything but that. It was intimate and beautiful, and was the highlight for us and many of the guests. We highly recommend it to anyone who is considering writing their own vows too.
A memorable moment…
The night before the wedding we hosted a pre-wedding party for our guests at a beach front bar in Paestum. It was one the best nights of our life – we ate, drank and danced into the night. Everyone was having such a great time that they didn’t want to leave, but the venue made it clear it was time to go. As it got to the end of the night, the music shut off and everyone kept chanting for more. That moment everyone realized that even though that night was over we still had a whole wedding day to look forward to was such a precious moment. The excitement and joyful expectation was tangible.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
Honestly there isn’t a whole lot I would do differently. I completely gave myself to the process knowing it wouldn’t last forever and it birthed the most perfect day and beautiful memory that we will treasure forever. If I could encourage myself with one thing looking back, it would be that the people at the wedding are the most important part. So when planning, always prioritize the guests and the shared experience over the inanimate details.
Sources of inspiration…
Wedding Venue / Villa Andrea Paestum
Videography / Nate Puhr
Bride’s Dress / Tumisola Ladega
Bride’s Shoes / New Bella
Wedding Rings / Tory Burch
Makeup / Lisa Hooper
Stationery / FeelGoodInvites
Cake & Catering / Mia Catering
Celebrant / Robby Lewis