Samantha Francis Baker and John Baker
Date of wedding: July 26, 2016
Location: Villa Koh Koon, Koh Samui, Thailand
Their story: It all started on a Friday afternoon, nearly four years ago, on the beach of Blue Marlin Dubai. Having both just come out of long relationships, neither John nor Samantha were looking for love. But, as Samantha points out, love always happens when you’re not looking for it.
“Even though I had never seen anyone more handsome than John, I had little interest in building a new relationship, which he definitely noticed,” said Sam, which she believes is the reason he persisted. “After turning down his request for my digits he eventually gave himself a missed call with my phone that I had left on the table. Before I knew it, I was sitting down to our first date ordering one tiramisu with two spoons at Certo, an Italian restaurant in Media City,” she laughs. The pair have been inseparable ever since.
The next step happened just over two years later when the lovebirds went on a holiday to Spain and Italy. Samantha claims that while she was not obsessed with the idea of John going down on one knee, she included a few “perfect moments” in the travel itinerary, “just in case he wanted to ‘ask me something.’”
But she’s quick to point out that it was her friends who advised her to do this. “Bear in mind, we always said we want to grow old together, but we never seriously talked about getting married and I definitely didn’t insist on him buying me a ring.”
So Sam, who is a blogger and stylist, arranged a beautiful dinner on the beach in Spain, a road trip in a cute Fiat from Rome to Positano and a romantic private rowing boat trip to the blue grotto, a natural sea cave in Capri. “But the only question John popped,” jokes Sam, “was if I could please pass him the sunscreen!”
At the end of the holiday, however, on a rooftop terrace in Positano reflecting on the trip, John mentioned he had a little gift for Sam as a thank you for being on time and tidy throughout the holiday – both of which she says are usually a task for her.
“I expected the gift to be a bag of candy but when I turned around my view was John, nervous on one knee, struggling for words and trying to give me a speech with a street musician playing in the background,” recalls Sam. “I obviously said yes, but I was in shock! He had the ring hidden in his pockets for two weeks and at home the ring had been secretively stashed in the bathroom ceiling for over three months!”
John, who is a physiotherapist at Healthbay, had one of his patients help him select the ring, as the couple had never discussed rings before. “My diamond emerald cut ring is the prettiest thing I have ever seen.”
Since they’re both obsessed with tropical beaches they decided to get married one year later in Koh Samui, Thailand. “Our plan was to host the most fun and intimate day of our lives. We only had 65 guests, all dressed in white. Our wedding concept was a festival set up as we wanted a very relaxing and laidback atmosphere. We had several food stations including an oysters station, a Dutch pancakes stall (Sam is from Holland) and a pad thai cart.
“To really enhance the festival feel we had several activities scattered around the venue such as a photo/video booth lounge, a boutonnière station where you could pick your own flowers, a bucket list table for the bride and groom, a lawn games area, a ‘Be smitten not bitten’ station with a selection of insect repellents and a guestbook with polaroid photos to immediately add to our book.”
As John is a huge music fan and used to be a DJ at Space in Ibiza, the music lineup was important. First up was Gee Sax, a saxophone player with a residency at Nikki Beach Koh Samui. “There is nothing better to warm up guests than the sax,” says Sam. Then Master Adam Baluch entertained guests with his quirky mix of trumpets, beat boxing, guitar, piano and singing all in one, followed by DJ Ian Blevins who got everyone up on to the dance floor – before the first course was even served!
A festival would not be complete without a hippy Volkswagen bus that was transformed into a bar, while guests could chill in a large tipi lounge with wooden pallet furniture and vintage carpets. For the ‘just married transportation’ they naturally had a pair of white Dutch bicycles finished off with a set of beer cans dangling at the back wheel.
For the ceremony decoration a white, floral, horseshoe shaped altar was especially created so as not to block the ocean view. The tree at the ceremony was decorated with fairy lights and hanging lanterns.
The ceremony was performed by the Hawaiian celebrant Paul Rambo, who coincidentally, is a DJ too. “He created a very touching and intimate ceremony,” says Sam, “a tradition he took with him from Hawaii.”
Venue: Koh Koon Villa, Koh Samui, Thailand.
“Our superstar wedding planner Aey from Dreamcatchers Events spent a whole day showing us amazing villas. We wanted a venue where we could also accommodate some of our friends and family so a villa was the best option. Villa Koh Koon, a French style villa has 10 bedrooms, a spa, infinity pool, mini golf, a chef, a barman, seven staff to accommodate everything we needed and the most amazing lawn. The best part was that the villa would be finished just before our wedding.”
Number of guests: 65.
Theme: Shades of White: a white wedding dress code where everyone is the one! The flowers and decorations were also all in white with touches of tropical green.
Dress: “My dress was designed by my good friend Michael Cinco, who does not need an introduction. To this day, I still can’t believe he designed my dream dress. Leading up until the wedding we had many appointments in which Michael went above and beyond to make sure it was exactly the dress I wanted. He imported French lace with a bird design – my husband always calls me a magpie as I like everything that sparkles. I felt like a million dirhams at my wedding!”
Veil: “My maid of honour secretly asked Michael Cinco to embellish the veil with my mother‘s initials to have her with me on my special day.”
Shoes: Sophia Webster.
Hair and make-up: Sam’s good friend Manuel Losad, who has worked with many major fashion names, including Emirates Woman. “For the hair Manuel went for a messy textured bun while my make-up was natural with a little bronze metallic eyeshadow detailing.”
Wedding rings: Cara. “I especially love that my husband went for a brushed rose-gold ring! For our Dubai wedding John gave me a cross-shaped diamond ring which I wore next to the wedding and engagement ring. My brother and sister in law gifted me with a little diamond pendant, which looked gorgeous with the low cut neckline of my dress.”
Flowers: A messy rustic bouquet with white and green flowers and leaves by OK Flowers Samui.
Music: Dj – Ian Blevins, Vocals – Adam Baluch, Saxophone – Gee Sax.
First dance: Magic by Coldplay.
Photography: “When you work with the best creatives in town it is hard to settle for anything less when it comes to your own wedding,” says Sam who managed to enlist her friend, fashion photographer Greg Adamski, even though he hates shooting weddings.
Food: A Thai style sharing dinner courtesy of the wedding planner’s catering company with amazing, picture-perfect food including edible flowers and gold leaf decorations.
Favours: All the guests were provided with Thai parasols, straw hats, hand-fans, an e-motion sickness goodie bag, tissues to wipe away any tears and a little mirror.
Cake: A wooden slate with a selection of their favourite Dutch and French cheeses.
Unique touches: “As my mum passed away we had everyone write a personal wish on a note and send it into the sky with white balloons to remember her on our special day. It was such an amazing moment. During the dinner our friends also organised a video with messages from everyone that could not travel to Thailand for the wedding – it’s absolutely hilarious!”
Honeymoon: Next February we are going to Brazil for the Rio carnival, which is high on our bucket list!
Anything else: My good friend Priya gifted me and the bridesmaids with gorgeous robes from her fashion website. The lovely team at Harvey Nichols-Dubai then personalised the robes by beautifully engraving our names with their personalisation and engraving service.
1. Entertainment is the most important part of your wedding!
2. Have an amazing wedding planner.
3. Make sure you give every groomsman and bridesmaid a task such as signing the guestbook, taking pictures on your phone or getting the bride and groom whatever they need to have a relaxed day.
Little Black Bridal Book
Instagram hashtag: #Teambakes
Wedding planner: Aey and her team from Dreamcatchers events.
Florist: OK Flowers Samui.
Nails: Sisters Beauty Lounge, Dubai.
Videographer: Daniel Baci.
Must-haves: Namshi.com for a wedding survival kit of bachelorette party goodies, lingerie and bridal swimwear, Apples & Drawers for bridesmaid’s robes.