Yety likes to say that she and Benjamin met on their phones and shared their first date at a lower Manhattan Cuban restaurant called Café Habana in October of 2016. With Yety being from London and Benjamin’s family living in New Jersey, the couple spent the first few years of their relationship traveling quite a bit. Conversations about an engagement started when the couple began discussing buying an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, together in the fall of 2019. “As a costume designer, vintage enthusiast, and artist, it was lovely to be able to design my own ring with family heirloom stones, to hear the history of the jewelry from his mother and to be able to have Benjamin as part of the process,” the bride says. The couple worked with a jeweler in New Jersey to customize the bauble, but when Yety didn’t hear any updates, she was surprised to find Benjamin on one knee on the rooftop of the apartment they purchased together on June 7, 2020. “Before he proposed that day, we ordered takeout from Café Habana,” she remembers, “It was the early months of Covid and it just felt great to have something positive to look forward to.”
The couple knew they wanted to legally marry in the city where they live, so they planned to host a microwedding in Brooklyn, New York, followed by a larger Nigerian engagement and Western wedding celebration in Europe. The first part of their wedding took place at 99Scott on June 5, 2021, when eight guests joined the bride and groom for their ceremony and dinner. Then, on August 29, 2022, they invited 100 loved ones to a larger wedding celebration at Villa Castelletti in Florence, Italy, where guests were able to stay on the grounds for the weekend and enjoy the Nigerian chef’s incredible food.
For both celebrations, Yety and Benjamin valued working with small, local Black-owned businesses whenever possible, and they leaned on friends and family to help pull off the logistics. “Villa Castelletti event manager Gaia was an absolute dream and helped coordinate the day, as well as the owner of the villa himself who personally drove elderly guests up to the villa which sat at the top of the hill and we couldn’t have pulled it together without them,” the bride says.
For the New York event, they hired Joshua Brown Photography to capture their vows, and for their Italian affair, Yety and Benjamin worked with Ivan L’Astorina to photograph their Nigerian engagement ceremony and western wedding the following day. Read on to see how this couple used their gold, ivory, lavender, and purple color scheme at all three wedding events.
Yety designed her first wedding look, but she worked with Julie Montag, who was the lead tailor on the first season of Power Book III: Raising Kanan, to actually create the ivory silk custom jumpsuit (which was inspired by a look Mariah Carey wore when she married Tommy Mottola in St. Thomas in 1993!). Yety gathered her inspiration and put Julie to work. “I love a wide leg, so she gave my jumpsuit a wider leg and created a gorgeous structured bodice to lay perfectly under my jacket,” Yety says. “I knew I would be running around day of and wanted to be comfortable, chic, and still recognizable on Zoom!” She paired the jumpsuit with gold strappy Alberto Zago heels that she was able to snag on sale. An eclectic mix of pearls in a high bun hairstyle completed her wedding-day look.
Benjamin wore a three piece textured blue and cream wool blend suit from Suit Supply paired with a customized Paul Smith shirt, silk vintage printed bow tie, and vintage cufflinks from the Greenwich weekend market in London. He finished his look with cotton dress socks and tan full-grain leather dean oxfords.
The couple’s ceremony took place in an outdoor courtyard, where a custom wooden runway was built for the aisle based on Yety’s moodboard. “As this was an intimate affair, it was important for her that the space reflect our own Brooklyn apartment in some way shape or form,” Benjamin says. The couple designed the entire space with help from the in-house team at 99Scott and their close friends. The bride and one of her friends Kai-Lee spent weeks researching flowers and techniques to create the altar with a mix of fresh, silk, and dried flowers. They added candles and bud vases to the aisle for the final touch.
Benjamin was accompanied by both his mother and his father as he walked down the aisle at the start of the ceremony. On one of the couple’s trips back to London, they spent New Year’s Eve drinking wine, eating scones, and listening to a lot of Mahler at their favorite cafe. “For my processional, Benjamin arranged Mahler’s 5th Symphony Adagio for solo cello and it was performed live by his dear friend Susan Mandel who was playing in the pit on broadway at the time,” Yety says. Yety walked down the aisle with her dear friend Mazen Zayn, who also helped coordinate the day. She held a bouquet of lavender tied with the rest of the ivory silk from her custom outfit.
The couple’s Brooklyn ceremony was officiated by one of their close friends. They exchanged personal vows they wrote for each other as their closest loved ones watched on. Although the couple was hoping for travel restrictions to ease so that Yety’s family could join them for their New York wedding, they were able to stream the ceremony for them online.
After the ceremony, Yety and Benjamin hosted a sit down meal for their in-person guests, and they created a “Brooklyn backyard studio vibe” by bringing tons of plants inside. The couple sourced fabric in Harlem with hints of lavender and gold that inspired the evening’s décor. The bride and groom repurposed the flowers from their ceremony aisle to decorate the tablescapes and added ivory taper candles in gold candlestick holders. Place settings featured antique gold rimmed plates and gilded cutlery that were given to Benjamin’s parents as wedding presents.
To keep loved ones busy, the duo set up a table with polaroid cameras and a moleskin scrapbook for everyone to sign. The spot was decorated with family portraits, a menorah to represent Benjamin’s Jewish heritage, and African items like woven fans and baskets to represent Yety’s Nigerian heritage.
The celebration wasn’t over yet: Over a year after they legally tied the knot in New York, Yety and Benjamin invited 100 guests to Florence, Italy, for a weekend of parties. “With Covid, we knew that many of our guests wouldn’t have been able to travel for a while and we personally hadn’t seen family for over two years, so a holiday for all just seemed to make sense,” Yety says. “As we were also planning a Nigerian-American mash up, we knew we were going to make it a three day event as culturally Nigerian weddings are multiple day affairs.”
They landed on Villa Castelletti as their venue, where they’d have the space to ensure that each event could take place in a different location but guests could still stay on site. And, as a huge plus, the property had a Nigerian chef on staff! “During the planning process between Yety and her mum back in London, finding Nigerian vendors was the biggest challenge and the food was going to be the biggest hurdle,” Benjamin says. The Villa’s chef even shared Yety’s sister’s name, which the couple deemed to be a sign.
For their Nigerian engagement celebration, Yety wanted to go for a 50s starlet look, a style she admits is outside of her comfort zone. She designed a gold sequin dress with a classic silhouette, a low sweetheart neckline, mesh fitted long sleeves, and a high back slit. She paired the gown with a traditional gele, her mother’s Iyùn (a traditional set of coral earrings and a bracelet that she wore to her elder sister’s wedding), and a gold bracelet and ruby accessories that were a gift from Benjamin’s late mother.
Yety setup mood boards for Benjamin’s Nigerian engagement party look and designed his outfit. The references helped him pick the embroidery details, the silhouette of the fila (the traditional hat), and the design of the agbada (the traditional wide-sleeved robe worn over a matching tunic and trouser set). He completed his look with Mr Porter’s grosgrain-trimmed patent leather derby shoes.
Nigerian engagements call for large wedding parties, so Yety had 14 friends in her bridal party while Benjamin had six guys by his side. It’s tradition for the couple to choose colors for their party, for themselves, and for each side of the family. They chose lavender, purple, and gold for their wedding party and burgundy and gold for their families. Yety found a Nigerian tailor, Omolara Ajayi, in Long Island, to source all the fabrics from Nigeria and hand make the Nigerian outfits for the couple and their wedding party. “Once we selected the fabrics, we provided everyone with their matching gold filas (hats) or geles (head ties) and gave each member of our party free reign to design the look they desired,” Benjamin says, “ Yety provided mood boards to serve as references and inspiration but each person decided their final look and our tailor connected fittings via zoom as our party stretched from L.A and San Francisco, to London and Seoul.”
Yety and Benjamin spent their relationship living in the states, so it was incredibly important to them to embrace the Nigerian traditional engagement and show their loved ones more of Yety’s Yoruba Nigerian heritage. The event begins with the mother of the bride, her family, and friends entering into the ceremony space as a procession. “Accompanied by musicians and the talking drummer, guests sing hymns and choruses in both English and Yoruba,” Yety says, “Next the groom will enter the arena, supported by his groomsmen and will ask for the bride’s hand in marriage formally to her family.” After performing various tasks for the bride’s family such as push ups and dancing, the groom and groomsmen will lay flat on the ground at the feet of the bride’s family. “This is symbolic of the groom honoring the bride’s family for raising his future wife,” Yety says.
The next day, guests gathered at the villa’s entrance, where manicured lawns framed the aisle and the Florentine landscape provided scenic views in the distance. The couple kept the additional decor minimal, adding two antique vases with ivory and lavender flowers flanking the altar.
Yety designed a silk and ivory stretch tulle gown for her western wedding in Italy and enlisted help from Quinan Dalton and Enver Chakartash to construct and execute the garment. She used both her mom’s and Benjamin’s mom’s wedding portraits as inspiration while designing the dress, and it felt special to honor Benjamin’s mother having lost her to pancreatic cancer just five months after their wedding in New York. She incorporated her love of turtlenecks, layering, and a reveal. “I wanted to end with a classic strapless 50s silhouette, but I love an outfit change with minimal effort,” Yety says “I started the day with all three pieces on, took off the train for cocktail hour, and then the turtleneck bib after dinner – it was perfect!” She wore statement Nickho Rey earrings paired with Benjamin’s mom’s gold bracelets and rings, and a signet gold ring Benjamin gifted her for her birthday.
Benjamin got ready for the day with his father and brother in one of the villa’s suites. He wore a three piece midnight blue silk wool tuxedo with a black silk jacquard bow tie from Suit Supply paired with a custom Brooks Brothers tuxedo shirt. He accessorized with a Timex watch that was a gift from Yety, his grandfather’s gold ring with this initials inscribed, and his late mother’s etched bracelet that had been one of her favorites.
Benjamin was accompanied by his father and his aunt, his late mother’s sister, down the aisle. The couple included all seven of their nieces and nephews in the ceremony. The flower girls, Alma and Enid, wore matching silk-tulle ivory and floral dresses with gold leather sandals. They requested wands instead of flower baskets, so Yety took on the DIY project the week before the big day. “The girls were so excited about their flower girl debut and had practiced their performance with videos and pictures to prove it,” Yety says.
Unfortunately Yety’s father was diagnosed with dementia during the couple’s planning process, so he was unable to travel by the time their Italian wedding arrived. Her mother and older brother Kayode walked her down the aisle. She held a small bouquet of seasonal long stem delphiniums, freesias, and gladiolus flowers.
Yety’s childhood pastor, Olutayo Ayodele, flew in to perform the blessing and give a sermon during the couple’s ceremony in Florence. The couple pulled sentiments from their original vows from their first wedding, but included experiences from the time they spent married, the joy of their families coming together, and the love of their parents who couldn’t be there with them. They incorporated the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass before being pronounced husband and wife. Musicians played Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. In G Major, Movement 1 on violin and cello as Yety and Benjamin recessed back down the aisle.
At the cocktail hour, guests enjoyed foods and drinks local to Florence. Yety and Benjamin served a dedicated list of Italian spirits including Italian grappa, limoncello, wine, and beers, along with a signature cocktail called the Castelletti Spritz; a twist on an Aperol Spritz served with a cherry base. Guests enjoyed bruschetta, truffle canapés, Tuscan paté, a butcher station with meats and cheeses, and a vegetable cart with focaccia bread and risotto balls.
The reception took place in the villa’s “winter garden” courtyard, which served as an open air space in the 15th century but was more recently renovated to be enjoyed year round. The room brings the outdoors in with floor to ceiling windows on one side, while arched doorways and chandeliers lead to the villa. “We really wanted the space to feel lush, vibrant, and fresh,” Yety says.
Tables were topped with lemons and greenery garlands to accomplish their vision while centerpieces incorporated pops of ivory and purple flowers. Ivory candles stood on gold candlesticks, lending height to the tablescape, and paired nicely with the place settings that included ivory plates, gold cutlery, and ivory linen napkins. Each seat was finished with a menu, which featured a custom illustration of the wedding venue, that detailed the four course meal to come.
After sharing their first dance to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love,” the couple danced with their parents to the tune of Stevie Wonder. Benjamin took a spin with his new mother-in-law, Janet, and Yety twirled with her father-in-law, Stuart. Then, they opened the dance floor with Future Island’s “Seasons” and encouraged all of their guests to get moving. “They were our first concert together and will forever be on our road trip playlist!” Yety says.
The couple also made sure that DJ Diego Costabileo incorporated the Jewish tradition of the hora and kept the party going into the night.
Yety and Benjamin served a classically French pastry for dessert: a mille feuille with an Italian twist of Chantilly cream and fruit. “We both hated the idea of the expected couple and cake picture and hated the traditional wedding cake and at one point in the planning process were not even going to have one,” Yety says. “We were thrilled to try this at the tasting—classic, simple, fun, and fruity.”
At the end of the night, guests gathered outside for a sparkler send off. After rushing back to New York, Yety and Benjamin spent two and a half weeks traveling across the country visiting National Parks before starting their next chapter in Los Angeles. To couples planning a wedding, Yety offers some words of advice. “Yes, it is just one day; or a few days if you have multiple events like we did. But it will all be worth it in the end, despite what your budget is as wedding memories are just priceless!”
New York Venue 99Scott
Italy Venue, Coordination, and Catering Villa Castelletti
Bridal Look Designer Yety Akinola
Bride Jumpsuit Construction L’oge Couture
Bridal Dress Skirt and Train Tailoring Enver Chakartash
Bridal Dress Illustrator, Pattern maker, Bib and Bodice Designer Quinan Dalton
Veil Designer Yety Akinola
Bride’s Jewelry Demarson Catbird Nickho Rey Vrai
Bride’s Shoes Alberto Zago
Bride’s Hair Jonelle Santiago
Bride’s Makeup, New York Tara Lauren
Bride’s Makeup, Italy Karina Franco
Groom’s Attire Suit Supply Brooks Brothers Mr Porter Timex Paul Smith
Groomsmen’s Attire Cozy Tux
Flower Girl Attire J.J’s House
Ring Bearer Attire Perry Ellis
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands Airers Jewelers
Floral Design, New York Kai-lee Parker
Floral Design, Italy Violamalva
Custom Illustrations Mary Bova
Music, New York Khalil Asmall
Music, Italy DJ Diego Costabile
Catering, New York, The Cradle NYC
Rentals, New York Patina Rentals
Videography Pompei Films
Photography, New York Joshua Brown Photography
Photography, Italy Ivan L’Astorina