By Terrance Turner
July 18, 2022
Actor Jay Ellis married actor and model Nina Senicar last weekend in a picturesque ceremony in Tuscany, Italy. The two held their nuptials at Villa Mangiacane, a 15th century property built by the family of famed Italian author and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli.
Vogue revealed the details in its article on the ceremony:
Actor Jay Ellis, who plays “Payback” in this summer’s blockbuster hit Top Gun: Maverick, met actor and model Nina Senicar in 2015 at a bar in Los Angeles. Their mutual friend, creative director Tony Mancilla—who ended up getting ordained so he could officiate the couple’s wedding—introduced them.
After five years of dating, Jay proposed to Nina at sunset on Dreamland Beach in Bali in January of 2019, and they began planning their wedding shortly after. “We always knew we wanted to get married in Italy because going there was the first trip we ever took together,” Nina explains. To that end, the two went to Italy to look for a wedding location in June of 2019, road-tripping for a week from Rome to Tuscany to Puglia and looking at about 15 venues and villas along the way. They eventually settled on Villa Mangiacane, a property surrounded by vineyards and olive groves in a small town called San Casciano in Tuscany.
The ceremony was planned for 2020, but like so many other couples — after months of planning and even sending out invitations — they had to change plans due to the pandemic. “At the time, Italy was one of the hardest hit areas in the world, on a strict lockdown and closed to tourists,” Jay remembers. “Like everyone else in the world, we weren’t sure how widespread it would be or how long any of it would last, so we had to cancel everything.”
The couple shifted their wedding date to be a year from July 9, 2020. “As the world slowly started to open up in 2021, we had a family loss that caused us to be away from home for about eight or nine months which resulted in our having to change our plans again,” Nina tells Vogue. “And we finally landed on July 9, 2022.”
Toward the end of 2021, they sent out invites for the final time with a header that read “Third time the charm!” And like so many other couples, they did most of their wedding planning on Zoom, reviewing their color palettes and design schemes over the course of the two years. “Since both of our work schedules are so crazy we had only one weekend—72 hours—in March when we could travel to Italy to taste food, see flowers, linens, cutlery, plates, and glassware in person,” Nina says.
Ellis recently featured in the Tom Cruise-starring “Top Gun: Maverick,” which has now surpassed “Titanic” as Paramount’s highest grossing movie EVER at the domestic box office. (The film has already earned $601.9 million in the U.S. alone, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.) But Ellis played perhaps his most memorable role as Lawrence Walker, the on-again, off-again boyfriend (and eventual fiance) of lead character Issa Dee on HBO’s “Insecure”. Like his “Insecure” co-star Issa Rae — who attended the nuptials — Ellis had a destination wedding, out of the media spotlight.
Ellis and Senicar worked with Jinane Kafrouny and Paolo Nassi of Regency Event Group to ensure the weekend would go as they envisioned and that COVID protocols were carefully followed. (Note: Starting from June 1, 2022, travelers to Italy will no longer be required to show the Green pass (i.e. Anti-COVID 19 vaccination certificate or recovery certificate, or a negative swab test) to enter Italy and are not subject to quarantine upon arrival to Italy if they do not possess the Green pass.)
Italy is now at Level 3 (High) for COVID-19. According to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates to Italy:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Italy due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country and advising Americans to “avoid travel to Italy” if you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of State’s Level 2 Travel Advisory recommends that Americans exercise increased caution due to terrorism.
- From May 1 until September 30, 2022, the use of more protective FFP2/KN95 masks is mandatory on all trains, ships and local public transportation (buses and metros) and inside all healthcare facilities.
“Since we had so many people traveling from all over the world and the requirements to get in and out of Italy were pretty stringent, we sent out updates every few months with links to the Italian government’s COVID-19 response/protocol website,” Nina says.
Both the bride and groom were custom Dolce & Gabbana. From the start, Nina had an idea about the kind of dress she hoped to wear. “I wanted a simple off-white silk material without lace and sparkles, but at the same time something classic, timeless, and elegant,” she tells Vogue. For that, she turned to D&G.
“Stylist Apuje Kalu helped me coordinate with Dolce exactly what I wanted and the team was amazing! They understood right away what I had in mind, and when I saw the sketches for the first time, it looked exactly as I’d imagined it. Apuje and I met with the Dolce team in Los Angeles for measurements and to look at color swatches and fabric samples. Then, we did two fittings in Milan with Lucio Di Rosa and the design team and one in Florence and the dress was ready. The big tulle that was under the dress was actually taken from their Alta Moda collection.”
Ellis and Apuje have worked together for many years, so right after the actor told the stylist about the proposal, the conversation immediately turned to creating a custom tuxedo. “We talked about a bunch of silhouettes, lapels, and looks, but I always knew I wanted to wear something in the bordeaux family,” Jay says. “Dolce sent over three sketches, and I immediately gravitated to the third one. The fabric on the lapel was sourced; they had never used it before. The piping on the lapel and pockets was a pitch by Apuje that I loved and the rest was the Dolce team being the best at what they do.”
According to Vogue, “Guests were asked to wear earth tones for the ceremony, which took place at sunset. As everyone entered the property, they were directed into the herb garden where they were met with specialty drinks. Then they were led by the sounds of a string quartet into a courtyard where they took their seats.”
Jay made his entrance, followed by the best men, the couple’s closest family members, and finally, the couple’s nearly 2-year-old daughter, who was the flower girl.
“There was a moment when I was standing there in front of everyone waiting for the giant wrought iron gates to open and to see Nina but the moment kept going and going,” Jay remembers. “So I yelled out ‘Baby, you coming?’ There was another beat or two after where Nina didn’t answer, so I turned to the crowd and said ‘I guess that’s a no, there’s a space up here if anybody wants to get married today.’ And in perfect timing as everyone laughed Nina yelled out, ‘I’m coming baby!’ Everyone laughed at us and then the gate opened and I was in awe when I saw Nina in her dress for the first time.”
Nina walked down the aisle with her father as the quartet played “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” by Frank Ocean. “I was very emotional and tried really hard not to cry,” Nina says. “Honestly, I didn’t see anybody else but Jay—I was so focused on his eyes and just being present.”
The couple said their vows in an outdoor garden ceremony officiated by Tony Francilla — who had introduced them.
“After the ceremony, guests moved to the pool area for cocktails overlooking the hills of Tuscany, while the couple took photos with their family along with one picture with everyone at the wedding. Following the group shot, everyone was led to dinner on the back side of the villa, which was followed by an all-night party.
Jay reflects: “After everything that everyone has been through over the last few years to bring over 190 people together for three days in Tuscany and celebrate was surreal. Seeing all of our friends from different parts of our lives together smiling and laughing, connecting, forming their own friendships was such a huge part of what we wanted out of the weekend and the celebration. We wanted to create moments and memories that would last the rest of our lives.”
“I am still processing everything, but I am beyond happy that all of our friends got together to celebrate our love,” Nina says. “We just really wanted everybody to have a good time and get to know each other. And most importantly, dance.”