With a rainy Venetian proposal that would put The Notebook to shame and an intimate East-meets-West ceremony, she had a lot on her hands with a newborn baby and planning a gorgeous destination wedding in France. Samantha shares just how on earth she managed it all below.
All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
At a fancy dress party in East London, through friends of friends.
Where was your first date?
The very next day! We went for a walk through Hyde Park and Green Park and finished up with some Peking duck in Pimlico. It was wonderfully relaxed and we felt immediately comfortable with each other.
Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
Oh god. I said it first and he said, “That’s nice”. I was mortified. It took him another few weeks to say it back.
Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
It was incredibly romantic. He proposed in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. It was pouring with rain and flooded and we were the only nutters out there. Ben disappeared into the water and came up with a ring… It was a fairytale.
Tell us about the ring.
It’s amazing! It’s a marquise cut. I have to say that it’s not terribly practical and I’ve snagged countless jumpers on it. I don’t care though, I love it.
What did you do for your hen party? We want the dirty details.
My gorgeous friend Rachel organised a dinner party for me with all my best friends and a course represented by every country I have lived in (Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Argentina, Australia). Then we all got very tipsy and danced around the living room. I’m not one for penis straws and learner badges.
How did you go about planning your wedding? Did you go the DIY route or did you hire a wedding planner to help you out?
My mother was amazing, she and my stepfather organised the entire thing. I literally picked the dress and just turned up on the day, no stress at all (for me anyway!). We had our first daughter, Isabella, six months before the wedding so I wasn’t very helpful with the planning at all, plus we were living in Australia and the wedding was in France. My mum took over and created my dream wedding.
Our wedding was in the south of France, near where my mother lives. We held a Chinese tea ceremony on Friday night at her house and on Saturday were married at a nearby chateau. It was stunning. The weather was gorgeous so we got married outside on a terrace that overlooked the rolling hills of Provence. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect spot. On the Sunday, we recovered from all of our hangovers with an Aussie BBQ back at the house.
Who helped you look and feel your best on your big day?
I’d just had a baby six months previously, so I did a few fitness classes beforehand. To be honest, I was so wrapped up in being a mother for the first time that I was more focused on that than the wedding! Anyway, the classes at Good Life Health Club in Australia (my local gym at the time) were Pilates, body attack and other aerobic classes. I also had my nails done the day before and some eyelash extensions at a spa near my mum’s house. Oh, I also had my hair and make-up done on the day.
Tell us about the dress.
It was so easy, it was the first one I saw and tried on. I only tried on two more after that. Funnily enough, I now live near a street with lots of wedding dress boutiques and often look into the windows as I walk past. Since my wedding five years ago, I have still never seen another dress I like more than the one I wore. I guess you just know when it’s the right one.
What was the wedding like?
Incredibly emotional and wonderful. It was absolutely one of the best days of my life, along with the engagement and the birth of my daughters. It was also pretty exhausting! I remember going to bed that night thinking that my jaw had never been so sore from smiling so much.
Everyone remembers their first dance. What song did you choose?
Nothing Can Change This Love by Sam Cooke.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
Get someone else to do it! It worked for me and it meant that I was very relaxed on the day.
Have any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?
Enjoy the day, don’t stress.
What do you remember most about the entire experience?
So many things. Driving there in the car with my dad was definitely up there, it was a beautiful old car but we weren’t convinced we were going to make it! Walking down the aisle was so emotional, I was actually welling up as I was walking towards Ben. I couldn’t even look at him or I would have lost it altogether. I just stared at the ground! I found out later that he was crying too. It’s a good job I never looked up or that would have been the end, we’d never have made it through the vows…
Kissing Ben at the end was very special for me. We’d been through so much in the year and a half before the wedding, what with moving to Australia and having our first child, and it felt like that moment was a wonderful celebration of our relationship. We’d made it and were still completely in love.
Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
No, it was absolutely perfect.
And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
We went to Ibiza and hired a villa with two other couples- unorthodox I know! It was fantastic, but I do wish we’d gone somewhere a bit more secluded and less party oriented. We were totally partied out after the wedding and all we really needed at that point was a beach and a good book, rather than Pacha and all the other night clubs!