There are some proposals so epic, so over-the-top, and so memorable that one wonders—what will they do for their actual wedding?! When Jonathan Barbara, co-owner of fashion label Alexis proposed to Victoria's Secret model Devon Windsor, theirs was one such engagement.
The couple had been together for two and a half years when Barbara popped the question in the Bahamas, in a ploy orchestrated with the bride's agents. "Johnny worked really hard to trick me into thinking I was flying into the Exumas for a modeling job. I had to take a sea plane to the final destination, and when we were getting ready to land I looked out of the window and I saw the words 'Marry Me' written in roses on the beach—and then I noticed it was Johnny standing there waiting for me," Windsor recalls. The bride adds, "That was definitely one of the happiest and most incredible days of my life that I will never forget."
That was, until she and Johnny began planning an epic three-day wedding in Saint Barthélemy—but more on that later.
Devon and Johnny met out and about in New York City, introduced by a mutual friend. "We didn’t think much of it as we were both in a relationships at the time," Devon tells BAZAAR Bride. "We actually didn’t see each other for two years [after that], until we re-met in Miami when I was there for a photo shoot."
It was Devon who made the first move. "I got for Johnny's number from his co-worker and texted him to come out for a dinner. He responded the next morning because he was ['supposedly'] working all night—which turned out to be true! He then romanced me during Paris Fashion Week by sending me flowers every morning leading up to a surprise, which ended up being him in town for my birthday—the rest is history."
The couple began their relationship living in two different cities, with Devon based in New York and traveling constantly for work, and Johnny based in Miami. "Now I basically live in Miami and commute to and from New York for work," she says. Of Johnny's surprise proposal, Devon could not have imagined a moment more indicative of who they are as a couple, and Johnny's penchant for romantic gestures. "I’m a beach lover so it was only fitting that he did something on the beach," she explains. "Johnny is quite the romantic and he never does anything halfway. The proposal was a true representation of who he is: flowers, my favorite food for a picnic, a ring, and a sandbar in the middle of the ocean—every little detail was planned down to perfection."
Johnny proposed with a bespoke piece by Ring Concierge. "Johnny actually drew out the setting of the ring! He likes to design everything in our lives. We had also gone to try on rings before, so he knew that I wanted either an oval or an elongated cushion cut stone, but I was completely blown away when I saw my ring—it is so incredibly beautiful."
After their show-stopping proposal, the couple set out to plan a wedding that rivaled the grandeur of their engagement, but kept in line with its themes. The couple planned on a long engagement, to just "enjoy being an engaged couple." Devon always knew an island wedding was in the cards. "We tossed around a couple ideas but St Barths seemed like the best place to do it because it’s incredibly beautiful, the service is amazing, the beaches are stunning, his parents and aunts and uncles have all renewed their vows in the same church [there], and the food is delicious."
Johnny and his mother, Annie Barbara, knew that they would be spearheading the event's look, feel, and design, but were on the hunt for an event planner who could execute their vision and style, along with the logistics of a weekend's worth of events seamlessly. The couple turned to BAZAAR Bride top planner Mindy Weiss, best known for her work with the Kardashian/Jenner clan and Justin and Hailey Bieber's wedding earlier this fall, among others. The team also enlisted local coordinator Karine of DK Events for on-the-ground support as they planned three events over a long weekend.
The festivities began on Thursday evening, at the couple's favorite date night spot on the island, Tamarin. "It's incredibly gorgeous and unique," Devon says. "Its tropical island garden is completed with so many trees, little ponds, and aromatic plants that make you feel like you’re in a jungle. You don’t need to transform this venue, but we felt that we wanted to change everyone's experience and make it unique to us. Johnny and his mother designed the most beautiful lounge settings sprinkled throughout the garden to create a super intimate vibe. Low seating made sure you didn't get too comfortable and joined in on the rhythmic music being provided by the troubadours. Themed hand fans were passed around to keep guests cool while the party continued on the dance floor until late into the night."
The dress code was all-white—for everyone except the bride. "I wore a custom floral, colorful, embellished Alexis gown—so I felt like a very special flower that evening," she says. "It was embroidered with colorful flowers and was slightly sheer with a built-in bustier; the colors were just right to accent the party and he flower patterns of the embellishment were worked on for weeks in order to achieve the perfect motifs. I wore it with nude Aquazurra shoes that had little feathers on them."
A guest list of top models—like Georgia Fowler, Shanina Shaik, Hannah Ferguson, Noel Berry, Nadine Leopold, Gabby Westbrook, Megan Williams, and Roosmarijn de Kok—joined It-girls Olivia Culpo, Cara Santana, Tori Praver, Shea Marie, Bettina Looney, and more on the shores of St. Barths to celebrate the couple.
And the party continued the next day on the beach at Shellona. "[Shellona is] normally more of a traditional restaurant setting, and so we wanted to transform it in to a beach club! Johnny and his mother designed day beds, a 16’ diameter oak bar, striped fringed umbrellas, and hand tie dyed throw pillows to make an exquisite, chic, and cozy sunset beach club environment. We even made a floating raft so people could swim out and enjoy the ocean and sun," Devon said.
For the beach, Devon created two looks under her new label, Devon Windsor Swim. "Being a new swimwear designer, I worked closely with my mother-in-law, now-husband, and sister-in-law to design the most intricate hand-embellished pearl and sequin swimsuit that took multiple days of just bead application alone at their atelier. The coverup for my first look also had French macrame lace and French embellished lace trim all framed with pearls to tie in my swimsuit. The second look was a embroidered lace look with high waisted bottoms that had a detachable skirt flowing down the back and a halter top. Both looks were all white and made me feel so so special." The bride capped off the looks with a pair of Jimmy Choo pearl sandals, before kicking them off to put her feet in the sand.
And when it came to having a good time, the couple didn't disappoint. "This was a true beach party with beer pong, cocktails, and the ocean only a few feet away. We kept the florals very simple with greens and miniature lemon trees. All of the furniture at this event was custom-made from Alexis fabrics, even the bar itself was designed by Johnny and his mom." The couple also brought in the body painter from Scorpios Mykonos to hand-paint tribal silver body art on their guests, and had each other's names painted on their chests, along with their wedding date.
The next day, Devon and Johnny exchanged vows at St Bartholomew's Anglican Church, one of the oldest structures on the island dating back to the 1850's, and where multiple couples in Johnny's family had renewed their vows in the past. The bride wore Zuhair Murad. "I have always been obsessed with his Couture and bridal gowns. His attention to detail is unlike anyone I have ever seen. My first gown was an off the shoulder, long sleeved lace gown that had a long train," the bride tells BAZAAR of her semi-sheer sheath. Windsor paired the look with Manolo Blahnik sandals and a veil by the designer that had a matching lace trim. The groom wore bespoke Dior Homme, and bridesmaids, flower girls, and members of the groom's family donned custom looks by their label, Alexis.
As for the decor, "A lush but simple link of flowers—[namely delphinium and scabiosa]—created an aisle leading into the church that then cascaded over the door to form the most enchanting island walkway," the bride says.
The florals were designed by Bows & Arrows, who designed the florals for Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner's wedding this past summer. On her florists, Devon was simply so grateful to have found them, albeit last minute. "What a life saver! We found Bows and Arrows 12 days before the wedding. [They were] amazing every step of the way. The florals were a marriage of some of my favorite romantic and classic blooms such as peonies, garden roses, and ranunculus with wild architectural and structural flowers [Johnny] gravitates to, like delphinium, astrantia, nerines and hellebores. The compositions were natural, asymmetrical and artistic with movement. We imported flowers from all over the world and paired them with local foliage and native flora and textures from the island," says Devon. While the ceremony was predominantly white and green in palette, the couple settled on shades of peach, mauve, sand, cappuccino, and cream for their reception.
As guests arrived, they were handed eyelet umbrellas and embellished hand fans to shade them from the sun. "The ceremony was intimate and cozy; Hailey Reinhart sang "Can’t Help Falling in Love" as my maid of honor and flower girls walked down the aisle," recalls Devon. "She then paused, the doors closed, and just as we rehearsed, she delivered the rest of the song as the door opened and I saw Johnny for the first time that day at the end of the aisle. His eyes were teary and so were mine. I will never forget that moment."
In choosing a photographer, the bride couldn't pick just one to work with, hiring Sergio Sandoná and Melissa Marshall. "The ceremony happened so quickly and we were off in our Defender to catch the last bit of light for our photos. Johnny and I love to scout photo locations and we scouted the hillside of Toiny, and it made for the perfect afternoon photos." On the choice to work with two photographers, Devon was grateful she got the best of both worlds; "For weeks I was searching online for all my favorite wedding photos and basically narrowed it down to them. I love both of their work for different reasons, and because their style of photography is slightly different. I was so happy with how the images turned out! They did an outstanding job."
"The Eden Rock hotel was devastated in the hurricanes a few years ago, and it will reopen this Wednesday," explained the couple's event planner, Mindy Weiss. "Devon and Johnny's wedding was the first event before the opening, and Johnny's mother, Annie Barbara, and Johnny himself personally chose every single design element that went into making this event look exactly how they would want to live and enjoy a personal space. They shipped in 13 containers of furniture and accessories to create amazing environments for the guests in all three locations."
After a photo session with their team, the couple rushed back to their reception at the Eden Rock. Guests were greeted to a performance by Carte Blanche, an eclectic multilingual Jazz band during cocktail hour. "Being such an iconic part of St Barths, we wanted to support locals and be one of their first guests at the opening of the hotel since Irma," said Devon. During cocktails, guests were treated to passed hors d'oeuvres, and hundreds of candles were lit as soon as the sun set.
After the couple's entry as Mr. & Mrs. and their first dance to "Like a Star" by Corinne Bailey Ray, the two changed into new looks for the reception. "I wore another Zuhair Murad dress embellished in a delicate beaded pattern and Johnny switched into a Dior embroidered tulle framed suit with a silk shirt he designed for himself."
Dinner, catered by Jean Georges Vongerichten, was served during toasts. "He had laid out an incredible selection at the raw bar, a pasta station being freshly mixed in a parmesan wheel, a beautiful fish, lobster and filet station as well as the most decadent desert presentation," recalls the bride. The tabletop decor was designed to encourage a romantic and intimate feel, using soft greens, mauve, and taupe along with rattan and teak accent furniture to complete the look. Throughout the space and along the beachfront, a series of rugs, and lounge and dining ottomans were scattered for guests to relax on, "The bar fronts were ornate but romantic, using an Alexis-designed fabric to create these revealing details under a solid marble slab top. Candles were everywhere and all of the centerpieces were upholstered and custom designed. Every single detail was made to look effortless, yet beachy, and beautiful."
DJ Ross One played the couple's favorite songs before performers kicked off the couple's "hora loca," where guests danced around a big heart-shaped fire along the beach with fire dancers. After dinner, Sean Paul gave a surprise, hour-long performance, after which DJ Ross One kept the party going until the early morning hours. Towards the end of the evening, Devon changed into a custom Alexis after party look, an embellished fringe romper with a detachable skirt.
Reminiscing on the weekend, Devon calls her wedding to Johnny, "the best weekend of our entire lives, filled with so much love and joy. Having all of our favorite people in the world celebrating with us was the icing on the cake." On her husband, Devon explains that her friends would likely describe them as "the perfect couple, but just like many others we have a lot to work on and to grow together. I would say that people see that we are both very strong willed and motivated yet very loving and supportive of each other. We are very different in many ways, but we also bond over so many things. We believe in taking time for each other. We both love to travel, have a huge love for food, and love to be outdoors. We want the same things in life."
While the two wed in paradise, their honeymoon plans include a trip to South Africa, Kenya, and the Maldives. "Johnny and I have been wanting to do an African safari our whole lives. We were saving it for our honeymoon because we wanted to something that was a unique experience and that we will remember forever. We went to Maldives the first year we started dating, and said that when we get married we were going to come back—so we had to make it a stop on our [trip]. It’s definitely one of our favorite places in the world."
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