Samantha and James

How We Met

James and I ‘met’ on Bumble three years ago. I was waiting for my flatmate (now bridesmaid!) to come home so we could pack up the rest of our flat for the big move the next morning. While waiting, I did a batch of boredom swiping on the app. Never did I think anything would come of it, but I do recall James standing out at the time. He was my type on paper: broad shoulders, tall, a bit of stubble, glasses and a genuine smile. I definitely hoped he would ‘swipe’ back. And as soon as he did, I opened with ‘Nice glasses!’. He sealed the deal with ‘Thanks, I like them too!’ (*insert cheeky emoji wink*).

Coincidentally he was also moving into his new flat that day not too far from ours. We texted non-stop in between settling in and unpacking. A week later and we had already exchanged flatmate stories, music recommendations, created a joint road trip playlist and booked in our first date. I remember him asking me to meet him at a pub near my law firm for convenience. I immediately Googled said pub and was a little disappointed as I had such high hopes for a fun first date (sorry, The Betsey Trotwood – I’m sure you’re a great little pub!). Little did I know, it was just a decoy because as soon as he saw me across the road, he told me we were actually heading to the underground piano bar next door. We spent the night writing song requests on napkins and handing it to the band, forgetting to eat dinner and getting inadvertently too tipsy on house wine. He dropped me off to my doorstep (just like every romantic movie I’ve grown up watching) and then I leaped to kiss him as he was leaving before rushing through my door. A bold move on my end, as I’m normally the chasee not the chaser, but it must have paid off because he immediately booked date number 2 the next day as we sat at work with an unnecessary but sweet Tuesday hangover.

We saw each other almost every day since. James even confidently invited himself to my birthday party during date number two earlier that week. Well, after the fourth hint about how much great value he is at parties and after voluntarily dangling his housemates for my single girlfriends, I thought I would extend the invitation to see if he was up to the challenge. Fast forward to Saturday and his single friends/flatmates bailed as wingmen at the last minute (one of them still makes it as a groomsman, though!). He (bravely) shows up solo anyway, not knowing that he was going to be put to the test by my friends and my sister.

They were finally going to meet and grill the mysterious guy who had swept me off my feet. Needless to say, he charmed them all. One by one they gave me their approval in the form of a wink, a secret joint trip to the bathroom or a thumbs up. My sister made him sweat it out more than others – he did call her a ‘little shit’ – but what I recall most vividly from that night was the moment I started falling in love with him. He is the most attentive person I know. He looks after our family and friends with no less care and love than what he gives me. And now I’m proud to say he’s my best friend, my housemate, my chef, my squash partner, travel companion and everything else in between. A year after the first swipe and we had shared countless adventures together, including buying our first home. Turns out it wasn’t as difficult to decide when because our leases expired on the same day!

How They Asked

We had a lot to celebrate with our families as we turned 30, my gorgeous mommy saw a milestone decade and James’ dad was also seeing a birthday. So together we planned to take them all to Morocco with us to share bucket list moments together – like glamping in the Moroccan desert, sunset camel rides and quad biking through Game of Thrones-like terrain in the mountains. Little did I know, we would all be sharing a bucket list moment together when James woke me up at 5 am for my first birthday surprise: A hot air balloon ride to catch the sunrise.

Catching the sunrise and sunset is my, and has since been our, favorite thing to do when traveling. The night before my sisters already planned a birthday outfit for my birthday breakfast, who were under strict instructions from James to make me feel amazing, so there was never an ‘OMG, what should I wear?!’ moment – just excitement. I felt like I had been selected to go on a Bachelor date as we were picked up, driven along with the sleeping Moroccan towns and finally arrived in the hot air balloon camp.

We were served blankets and mint tea in a Berber tent after checking in. Taking it all in, I saw a loud group in the corner and told James quietly that I wish we didn’t have to share our balloon with those guys! Whilst he agreed at the time that it would be awful luck, we then walked out into the vast field where we noticed two extra balloons. I did the math and secretly thought our odds just got better now we have extra balloons! He then tells me that my second surprise… is our very own private balloon. At that point, I wanted to cry, but the excitement took over me.

We watched our balloon rise from the ground, climbed up and grinned and cuddled through the morning chill. Our pilot told us that the sun was about to rise. So James (pretended) to pick up the GoPro as the sun rose behind us above the Atlas Mountains and asked me the question I’ve been only dreaming to hear, in a setting I couldn’t even beat in my own daydreams.

I said YES of course, without question or doubt, and chugged a champagne bottle between us for the rest of the flight. Our pilot allowed us to drink the champagne on the condition that there would be no evidence once we landed. I ogled my ring on the way home, ran back to our families to celebrate our engagement (most of whom were in on the secret)… and my 30th birthday for the rest of the day, which I already forgot about!

He knew I was anxious about turning 30, but much like the hot air balloon, at the time he asked me to be his WIFE, he said we were yet to reach our greatest heights. I mean he did pour out all of his cheese jokes date one so in true style, he popped the question with a pun. And I melted.

The Ring: So it turns out he was planning to propose since September last year. Our mutual friend, Matthew, once heard me mention that oval was my favorite ring shape. I think I was raving about a vintage oval white sapphire ring my mom got me and how she has never failed when it comes to choosing the right accessory for me. Matthew took notes and mentioned to James to pick up the phone to him when James was ready to propose. Fast forward a year and Matthew received said phone call. James then contacted another mutual friend of ours, Alice, whose family owned a jewelry store.

Being the planner that he is, he thought 4 weeks was plenty of time to choose the right diamond and create a custom piece. A few secret business trips and an Amazon ring sizer order later, he had the ring in the process. I would have married him even if he proposed with a jelly ring, but to have gotten this so right is a testament to how much he knows me, how much he listened to all the little details (including how my left ring finger is just that little bit fatter than the right one, hence half sizing up from one of my rings). He noticed I only wore yellow gold. He knew I wanted quality over size. He understood my taste was elegant, yet classic. He even said he didn’t want the prong too high or rock too big so that it didn’t get in the way of diaper-changing and mommy duties in the future. What a keeper – man and ring!