When your first experience as best man happened to be in a Burberry ad campaign starring Kate Moss as the bride and the last big wedding you attended was that of another famous Kate and her Prince William, you might think of those nuptials as tough acts to follow. But if you’re 33-year-old Alexander Gilkes—the sartorially snappy cofounder of Paddle8, a buzzy online art fair—you simply go for broke. And so this past May, one year after he launched Paddle8 and converted to Judaism to marry fellow Briton Misha Nonoo, 25, a rising fashion designer, Gilkes wed in grand style in Venice. Starting with a welcome supper in the Rialto Fish Market and ending with a garden party on the roof of Peggy Guggenheim’s storied museum, the three-day affair was equal parts James Bond, Great Gatsby, and English-schoolboy high jinks.
The couple, who started dating in 2003 in London, entertain regularly in their downtown–New York apartment, where after-dinner games and dressing up in hats are de rigueur. “They both ooze charm and have this kind of appeal that goes across sexes and strata,” said Philips de Pury & Company chairman Simon de Pury, a wedding guest. (Gilkes, also an auctioneer at Philips, recently served as Philips’s marketing director.) “When they’re around, you play and have fun.”
Their sense of play ran through the festivities. For the Rialto soiree following the family-only ceremony in a private garden, the market was transformed into a makeshift sultan’s cave, with waiters shucking oysters and doling out gelato to the 300 guests, among them, Princess Eugenie of York and her older sister, Beatrice (who set off an online frenzy with the hat she wore to her cousin William’s wedding). Also in attendance were James Middleton, Kate and Pippa’s younger brother; and the groom’s brother and best man, Charlie Gilkes, an Etonian classmate of Prince William’s who once dated Pippa and now owns three trendy London bars. Filling out the list were the bride’s cousin Houda Nonoo, the Bahraini ambassador to the U.S.; Matthew Mellon; Helen Rockefeller; Zani Gugelmann; and John Kluge Jr. Perhaps the most unlikely boldface attendee was the actor Peter Coyote, a friend of the couple’s and an ordained Buddhist priest, who wore his robes to officiate the next evening at a black-tie secular ceremony in the ninth-century Cloister of San Gregorio. As musicians from La Fenice orchestra played, the bride made a showstopping entrance wearing a layered lace dress she had designed and that was hand-embroidered by Oscar de la Renta’s couturier.