Seven years after meeting through mutual friends at a NYC nightclub, Jake Israel popped up on actress Nicole Villamil’s Instagram, and she excitedly hit the “Follow” button. He immediately commented his number publicly on one of her pictures and asked her to text him when she was in the city again. “Apparently, he never heard of a DM!” she jokes.
After two-and-a-half years together—like a scene right out of a movie—he proposed on a safari in Tanzania as the rain poured down at sunset. After saying yes, she made him repeat all the romantic things he had said moments prior, including a quote ad-libbed from a play she had recently performed in: “Most people live for love and admiration, but it is by love and admiration that one should live. Nicole, I promise to love and admire you for the rest of my life.”
When the engaged couple first started planning their wedding in 2018, they had their hearts set on a destination event. Jake scouted venues in seven foreign countries, and they finally landed on Borgo Egnazia in Puglia for a multi-day wedding in June 2020 with 250 guests. As the pandemic hit, Nicole and Jake postponed to 2021 and later canceled their Italian nuptials. The pair then quickly realized that an intimate wedding in East Hampton felt just right. “The irony of sending Jake to seven different countries, only to end up in our backyard still makes me laugh,” Nicole says.
The bride-to-be stumbled upon The Baker House 1650 by accident, but when she walked inside, it felt as if she was transported to a magical garden. Nicole also wanted the space under tent from The Greenwich Tent Co. to match the setting with lots of lush greenery from Ovando, candles, and disco balls over the dance floor. To help bring the rest of their vision to life, the couple hired Francesca Events for their new date of June 12, 2021. GG Press Artisan Printer set the tone for the enchanting day with a beautiful wedding invitation suite, and photographers Norman & Blake and filmmaker Liron Erel were there through the weekend to capture every moment.
Jake had one request for Nicole’s wedding dress, “No puffy sleeves,” so when she found a Monique Lhuillier design with that specific feature, she smartly chose it for the rehearsal dinner, planned by The Party New York, at Topping Rose House instead. “He actually ended up loving it,” Nicole gushes.
The bride’s lace ceremony dress was also from Monique Lhuillier and had two pieces—a strapless dress and a matching bolero. To make it her own, Nicole altered the sweetheart neckline into a straighter one and added sleeves for an off-the-shoulder look. “It was a modern take on what my mom had worn for her wedding back in the ’80s,” Nicole shares. For her “something borrowed,” the bride wore her mother’s diamond necklace and earrings, which her sister had also worn on her own wedding day.
On the day-of, Nicole got ready with makeup artist Katrina Klein and hair stylist Scott King, while bridesmaids put on their dresses by The Vampire’s Wife, Johanna Ortiz, Cara Cara, Miu Miu, and other chic designers and had their beauty done by Flynn Pyykkonen and Ashlee Glazer.
As a special touch, the ceremony was officiated by the couple’s sisters. Nicole walked down the aisle to an orchestral remastered version of “Bird By Time.” “Once I walked through the door and saw Jake, all those butterflies subsided,” she explains. “I cried during both his vows and mine. I’m a mush at heart.”
After being announced as husband and wife, the newlyweds led their loved ones into the tent for the reception dinner, catered by Pinch Food Design. Then, the group took to the dance floor for the Hora and continued the party under the disco balls with DJ Martin D’Arce. “I am from Puerto Rico, so dancing is a big part of our family,” Nicole states. “We will always be the last ones on the dance floor, and this night was no exception…Salsa dancing runs in our blood! And it was incredible to be able to share that with Jake and his family, as they joined in with their ever-improving salsa skills.”
Nicole’s favorite part of the night was Jake’s surprise toast during their cake cutting. After slicing into their celebratory confection by A Simple Cake, he stated that the best way to show your love is to embarrass yourself and then proceeded to burst into song, singing their favorite tune, “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb. “Jake is NOT a singer…so I was shocked,” Nicole recalls. “He was no doubt embarrassed by his performance, but it was the best thing I ever heard.”
After the formal reception came to a close, the fête continued inside and then moved to the Carriage House until 7:00 a.m. “Having gone from 250 to 70 wedding guests, we were worried that it wouldn’t turn into a true party,” Nicole shares. “But our small group of close friends and family really stepped up and brought such incredible energy. We believe the people are what make a wedding special.”