In 2016, Barron Hilton and Tessa von Walderdorff started the new year on the right note. The couple—he's the younger brother of Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild; she's a countess in Germany—were both in St. Barths to ring in the new year. "I’ve been going to the island since I was a baby," Tessa says. "My parents got married there in 1988, exactly 30 years ago. It has always been my happy place. I would have never imagined that one day the island would introduce me to the love of my life." But it did—three days after the ball dropped to ring in 2016, Tessa and Barron ran into each other at a cabaret-style restaurant, Le Ti.
"Laying eyes on Barron for the first time was so surreal, like a dream," she recalls. The two connected—amidst all the loud music, conversation, and dancing—and at the end of the night, Barron took Tessa's hand and said, "'You know when you just know?'”
From that point on, Tessa and Barron were "inseparable"—though they dated, moved cross-country as roommates, and made a run of it as "friends" before ultimately deciding they couldn't live without the other. "During the summer of 2017, Barron and I had spent a good month and a half apart traveling on our own—but when I returned to New York, he was awaiting me," she says. "From that moment on, we could no longer leave each other’s side. Two weeks later, he proposed." For the proposal, Barron planned a trip to Coney Island, a place they'd always talked about visiting but had never followed through on.
But on September 17, 2017, they made it happen and hopped on a subway there in the late afternoon. "Once we got onto the ferris wheel, Barron pulled out a letter he had written me while I was gone, recounting all of our memories together," she says. "After doing a full circle on the wheel, he finished his letter, and I don't know how he could have possibly timed it so perfectly, but when we got to the top the second time, he got down on one knee, with a green, velvet box in his hand, and asked me to marry him." She, of course, said yes, repeatedly and with enough excitement to make their cart shake!
For their wedding, Tessa and Barron knew they wanted to head back to St. Barths, the place where they originally met, but worried about where they'd marry in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. (Thankfully, they visited in January and found the island to be more beautiful than ever.) "Originally, we had planned on having our wedding on the beach but when we walked by the yellow Anglican Church in Gustavia our minds had changed," she says. "The energy radiating from the 19th century stone building was mesmerizing." For the reception, they found a beautiful villa on the beach (their wedding planner, IB Charneau of Kiki-é Mo Events, knew the owner!) and set about designing every single detail together.
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The bride worked with stylist Nilufer Satorius and the team at Watters to customize their "Mihr" gown. They gown is now named after Tessa, and it features long sheer sleeves an an A-line skirt. "It was made with 25 yards of washed silk organza and 50 yards of tulle—very voluminous but lightweight to easily move around," she explains. "The bodice had custom hand beading that resembled pixie dust sprinkled along the cuff and tiny beads on the sleeves. It looked truly magical!" Tessa's veil was custom-made by Toni Federici to coordinate with her stunning gown.
She accessorized with a pair of her grandmother's crystal earrings and carried a bright bouquet of peach, yellow, orange, and pink roses, peonies, and fuchsia celosia.
Barron looked island chic in a custom Italian linen suit by Bellucci Napoli. He surprised Tessa by having his pocket square made out of the same material as her dress.
To showcase their island setting, the couple met up on the beach to take epic portraits in front of the water.
The bride's sister, Mia, acted as her maid of honor; while Barron's best friend, Alana, acted as his best "woman." The couple asked his sisters, Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild, and his mother, Kathy Hilton, to wear baby blue to match the ocean.
The couple officially wed on June 1, 2018 at town hall before their church ceremony on June 3, 2018.
After exchanging vows, the newlyweds hopped into their fully decorated “beebee” (the modern-day mini moke) and drove to Pointe Milou, one of their favorite places on the island. There, they took portraits, watched the sun set, and basked in their newlywed excitement.
Cocktail hour kicked off while the bride and groom took pictures, but they made it back in time to join everyone for a locally-inspired dinner inside a tent on the villa's lawn. After three courses and numerous speeches, Barron surprised Tessa with a video that he'd made of their adventures together.
The couple's cake was topped with vanilla icing, raspberries, flowers by Margaux Bellorge—and a bride and groom cake topper, of course!
Neon lights (and a floating disco ball!) transformed the outdoor space for a late-night dance party.
"After our first dance, to 'Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby' by Cigarettes After Sex, we danced the night away," says the bride."The energy of the evening was on another level—everyone was crying tears of joy. Barron’s sister, Paris Hilton, even got on the turntables, giving us a sick performance!"
Barron and Tessa ended the night by truly embracing the island's setting. She adds, "We took our clothes off and went skinny-dipping in the ocean!"
Wedding Planner: IB Charneau of Kiki-é Mo Events || Bride's Dress: Watters || Bride's Veil: Toni Federici || Groom's Suit: Bellucci Napoli || Floral Design: Margaux Bellorgey || Catering: Jerome Carmona || Photography: Jenny Gorman and Robin Saidman || Videography: Amor in Motion Films