Australian model Samantha Harris has revealed that she secretly married long-time love Luke Hunt in an intimate ceremony in March 2014.
Speaking exclusively to marie claire, Samantha said she and Luke opted to keep the wedding secret after the pair were involved in a tragic accident in 2012, resulting in the death of Sydney grandfather Kenneth Lay, 78.
Luke was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, and sentenced to jail, with a minimum two years before parole. Faced with a challenging stretch of time apart, the couple - who were already engaged - decided to marry two months before Luke’s sentence began.
“My family was there, Luke’s family, and a few of our close friends,” recalls Samantha, who was radiant on the day in a white, strapless Carla Zampatti dress. “It was more like a family gathering or a Christmas dinner, full of love and support.”
The couple wrote their own vows and Sam’s dress was offset by a simple bouquet of roses and lilies.
It was a poignant day, given the pain of the past and the knowledge they’d soon be separated for years, but its joy eased some of the dread of what lay ahead.
Why the secrecy? Out of respect, the couple wanted to keep the event low-key. “We had been engaged for a few years and were planning to get married,” Samantha explains. “Would our wedding have been bigger under normal circumstances? Probably not, but I would have posted a photo or something on social media,” she says.
For the newlyweds, the jail time passed slowly, but in May this year, following two years of imprisonment, Samantha and Luke’s mother drove to Muswellbrook minimum security prison to pick up the newly released Luke.
In the later months of his sentence, he’d been allowed to work in town and had saved up some money to organise a surprise for his bride.
“We stayed a night at the Shangri La [Hotel] in the city,” Samantha says, “and somehow he had organised for us to have dinner at Tetsuya’s restaurant. I was in shock. I hadn’t ever had anything like that done for me. It was like the honeymoon we never had.”
Samantha is still in high demand as a model, but Luke is a changed man. “We don’t talk about the accident much because I can’t handle it, but I know he feels deeply for Mr Lay’s family and always will,” Samantha says. “I wish we could bring him back but we can’t. Something like this hurts so many people.”