When Umindi Francis first met Dadi Denis at a café in New York City, she noticed his great smile—and serious sweet tooth. “He had like six sugar packets open on the table,” she recalls. “And he added even more to his coffee once we started talking!” The calories may have been empty, but the chemistry was undeniable, and so began a five-year romance. Last Christmas, he got down on one knee. Dadi, a Haitian Olympic sprinter turned financial adviser, also got down to two sugars a day, thanks to Umindi—who, he says, brings balance to most situations. She’s the CEO of a brand consulting firm—and a master coordinator—so they set a date for just six months away and invited 100 guests to Italy. “The timeline was ambitious but not intimidating,” she admits.
Of course, when planning a party that’s 4,000 miles away, hiccups are bound to happen. The first? Their church canceled just days after they’d ordered invites. “We were freaking out, but our backup turned out to be the most perfect place for us,” she says. There were other sudden changes to the agenda: The couple planned to kick off their celebration with a welcome dinner on Friday, but so many guests arrived early, they hosted impromptu cocktails on Thursday. The next curveball came from the groom, who wanted to skip the first look. His hyperorganized fiancée originally objected—postceremony pics would throw off the schedule—but she eventually relented. “I’m so glad I did,” Umindi says. “It was so emotional seeing each other in church for the first time. Dadi had tears in his eyes.”
Keep reading to see more of the couple’s three-day event, planned by Sara Mazzei of Infinity Weddings and captured by Gianluca and Mary Adovasio. And, of course, you can't miss the groom's adorable reaction to seeing his bride!
Umindi and Dadi both have Caribbean roots—her family is from Trinidad; his is from Haiti—so they knew they wanted to marry by the water. But due to the hurricanes of 2017, they worried about booking a venue in the Caribbean for a 2018 wedding. So, instead, they looked for seaside locales near their European-based family members and found their dream venue in Ravello, Italy. "Ravello is elegantly charming and has the most incredible views," Umindi says. "It’s a little slice of heaven."
There, festivities kicked off with a white-themed aperitivo party in the Ravello town square. “That’s where all the action happens,” the bride says. Beforehand, the bride (in J. Mendel) and groom posed for portraits on the terrazzo at Villa Cimbrone.
The couple hired an Italian folk band to entertain guests at the first event. But the young guests (center, from left)—Hannah and Asher Hughes, and Sydney Person—were most excited about the night’s dress code. “Sydney wanted to wear a tiara and gloves,” says the bride with a laugh.
The welcome dinner took place at Villa Maria Restaurant, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. There, the couple embraced their Amalfi coast setting by decorating the tables with lemons, tile-printed menus, and local pottery.
For the wedding, Dadi selected a classic tux by Musika Frere. "Dadi is Haitan and one of the cofounders of Musika Frere is Haitan, so we were thrilled to support the brand," Umindi explains. "The experience was fantastic."
Umindi describes her Pronovias gown as timeless. She also says that she loved a lot of things about her dress, but if she had to pick a favorite, it would be the lace jacket she wore for the ceremony. For her something blue, the bride wore a blue pavé sapphire band that had belonged to her late Aunt Jackie. “She meant the world to me, so it was important that I wear something of hers,” she says.
Umindi's three bridesmaids wore sea blue gowns (naturally!) by Madeline Gardener.
Though their original church canceled, the Church of Santa Martia a Gradillo ended up being perfect for the couple's ceremony. "It had so much natural charm that we didn’t do much," Umindi says. And by that, she means they only added two large pillars of white orchards, roses, and astilbe on either side of the aisle.
The bride walked down the aisle with her Uncle Emerson Thomas, who stood in for her late father. "He has always been like a father to me so it was a no-brainer that he would walk me down the aisle," she says. It was an emotional walk for both the bride and groom, as Dadi stood at the other end in tears. But those weren't the only happy tears of the ceremony: "Our wedding planner had a soprano sing 'Ava Maria' in tandem with a string duo," Uminid says. "It was so beautiful it brought us to tears."
"Dadi and I were afraid of having stage fright so we were happy to follow Father William’s script," she says. "It allowed us to be relaxed and really in the moment while we said our vows."
After the vows, guests stopped for gelato en route to the reception at Belmond Hotel Caruso, while the couple took their portraits around town.
Cocktail hour took place in a garden adjacent to the dinner setting. There, everyone enjoyed stunning views alongside the hotel's signature cocktail, a mix of prosecco, moscato, and fresh fruit.
The bride's overall vision was for a trend-free event, so she stuck to mostly white decor for dinner in the olive grove. Though, she admits that she put a lot of thought into the dinner decor and setting. “I knew it would be the time to really enjoy the meal, speeches, and conversation,” she explains.
Thanks to Umindi's thoughtful vision, tables were set with gold-rimmed chargers, botanical-accented stationery, and arrangements of white and pink blooms. The beautiful location also added to the overall look. “The sun was setting just as we sat down to dinner. It was magical,” the bride says.
The couple selected Brian McKnight “Never Felt This Way” for their first dance. They'd also flown in their favorite DJ to end the night, but due to noise ordinances, they had to get creative with an after-party at a nearby pizza bar—where, Umindi says, “My mother-in-law and I were the last ones on the dance floor!”
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the festivities did not end there. After all, what's a wedding on the Amalfi coast without a farewell brunch to recap the night's events?
Reception Venue, Cake Designer & Catering: Belmond Caruso || Wedding Planner: Infinity Weddings Italy || Wedding Stationery: Shine Wedding Invitations, ALIPRINTS, StudioBohemme, Marketa || Wedding Dress & Veil: Pronovias || Bride's Shoes: Gianvito Rossi || Earrings: Burma Boutique || Makeup Artist: Mali Thomas || Hair: Amalfi Alessandro Mancino || Groom's Attire: Musika Frere || Wedding Bands: Tiffany || Engagement Rings: Ritz Jewelers New York || Floral Designer: Malafronte Floral Design || Rentals & Favors: Wedding Solution || Reception Music: Lesley Cadogan of Ontrack Disco || Photography: Gianluca & Mary Adovasio || Videography: Waterfall Visuals