Svetlana & Mark

beach wedding

Mark Alexander and Svetlana Baxter were married on October 12, 2012, at 12:00 at St Pete beach, St Petersburg, Florida.


*Bride and groom:*

Svetlana Baxter – Management Accountant

Mark Alexander – property investor and business consultant


 *Wedding date:* 12.10.2012 at 12:00


 *Ceremony:* Simply Beautiful & Unity Sands

 *Reception:* Maritima Grill, Don Cesar 4 diamond Resort at St Pete beach, Florida


Planning a wedding from abroad can be a tricky task for some, but not for Mark.

He used to live in Florida and knows several attractive places over there. 

*How we met…*

We first met on the train from London to Norwich on 18th of January 2008

Pre-story: “How we happened to be on that train which turned our lives towards each other.”

For me it was a trip to the recruitment fair at the Olympic Centre in London. I had recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Business and Finance and was looking for job opportunities and fresh changes in my life. Whilst in London I also visited the boat show at the Excel Exhibition Centre.

Trying to relax on the train after a busy day I was deep in my thoughts which spread from finding a perfect job, possibly moving to London and how I might one day be able to afford to buy the boat of my dreams – a Princess 42

For Mark it was a business trip with his Marketing Director. Note, he usually travels in first class, but that historical day for some unexplained reason they got seats in a normal coach.

We were sitting across the aisle. And here the story begins…

It took him 1 hour 40 min to get brave enough to start to talk to me. His Marketing Director had fallen asleep – clearly he was bored and wanted somebody to talk to.

His excuse for not starting the conversation earlier was that I was sitting with three other men. Obviously he didn’t know me or them and assumed we were all together.

After the three men got off the train in Diss (20 minutes before arriving at Norwich) Mark and asked me a question:

“Are you Polish?”

My answer was “No” and I was back to my dreams – looking at the boating magazines I’d picked up at the boat show …

He did not give up though, I think he took the rebuff as a challenge and continued asking me more questions.

“My business partner has a boat” he said, “it’s a Princess 40.”

Now he had my attention!

Our conversation about boats took off and 20 minutes was gone in the blink of an eye. I was disappointed when we arrived as by that time we were deep into conversation. All I had left was his business card and butterflies in my stomach – he gave it to me as he left the train as I mentioned that I was looking for a job in accountancy. It turns out he also had a lot of contacts in that business too.

I was inspired by this man and could not stop talking about him to my friends.

Later on we bumped into each other a few times whilst out socializing with friends. We talked like old friends sharing news and changes in our lives.

After two years Mark helped me to move  house and eventually we got together as a couple. 

*The proposal…*

Mark proposed just 3 months after we first started living together, but we had known each other for more than 2 years by then.

It was one of the most difficult days for Mark in his life, not due to his proposal to me but because of what had happend prior.

Due to financial market instability Mark had made a decision to put his commercial finance brokerage into hibernation. It was his baby, he had nurtured his business over 19 years to rank 38th in The Times Profit Track 100 the year before closing it down. The business started from his spare bedroom. This closure involved making over 300 people redundant. It was hard for everybody, employers and partners as they were like a big family.

The Friday evening when Mark proposed was his last day in his office with his staff. He came home emotionally drained. He explained that times had changed and he would have to make big cut backs to his jet set lifestyle. He went on to say he would understand if everything I wanted things to go back to the way they were 3 months ago, meaning before we got together. I thought he was going to dump me! I definitely did not want that, I loved this man with all my heart.

But dumping me was not his intention. He just wanted me to understand the situation we were in. Then he said, with a tear in his eye, that after all the sad things he had been through, I was the light in his life and he didn’t want to lose me too. By that time, he was already on his knee. Four simple words made me cry: “Will you marry me?” he asked.

Later he said that he wanted to propose in happier circumstances, we had twice been on short breaks to New York and Dubai, but he wanted to wait until Christmas.

But that day he felt that life couldn’t really get much worse, even if I said “No”, so he took his chance.

 I said “Yes”

*We planned our wedding from abroad…*

My dream wedding has always been to marry on a beach: White sand, blue sea and blue sky.

For a long time I believed weddings like that only happened in the movies. Real weddings are in churches and registry offices.

I am glad I was wrong. My perfect beach is Gulf of Mexico, Florida, St Pete beach.

The sunsets are A-MAI-ZING !!!

We begun planning our beach wedding 8 months prior to the big day. We knew the location we wanted and the hotel to stay in: The Pink Palace – Don Cesar Hotel.

That was our starting point.

Note that by English tradition the Bride’s family generally makes all arrangements, but by Russian tradition, the Groom’s family make the wedding plans.

To respect both traditions and the fact that our families would not know where to start planning a non-traditional wedding we did it ourselves.

Mark’s jobs included: applications, ceremony, hotels, transport, the venues, food, entertainment and men’s outfits.

I arranged outfits for myself and my bridesmaid, flowers, photographer, videographer, saxophonist, hairdresser for myself and my bridesmaid and spa treatments for the day before wedding.

*Wedding photographer…* captured our ceremony on the beach and me getting ready before it!

Our photographer and florist (Jeanne Lauren Pelaez) was a young but very talented girl. I only met here 1 hour before the ceremony, prior to that all communications had been via email.

The wedding registry company recommended her to me as well as videographer and saxophonist. They all contributed to our special day with high levels of professionalism which was great as there’s always those nagging doubts when you only ever communicate by phone or email before the big day.

*Our ceremony…*

We chose our own words. “… we joined ourselves together for life, as friends and lovers, Husband and Wife.”

A “Unity sand” ceremony followed after official one, this symbolised our commitment to share the rest of our lives with each other through the pouring of two individual containers

of sand together into one – just as the sands can never be separated or go back into their former containers, nether will we.

At the end of the ceremony we gathered together at the ocean shore.

Each had a blessing stone, and as we tossed the stones into the ocean we each made a silent wish.

The wedding ceremony was accompanied with romantic saxophone music performed by saxophonist TJ –

*My dress…* or better to say Dresses 

I could not find anything suitable for a beach wedding in rainy England

For the most important day in your life it is quite tricky to order your dress on-line but that’s what I did.

I was brave. I ordered both dresses from the Light in the Box website. There is such a wide range of different stiles. Unbelievable! On their website they teach you how to take your measurements, there is even little video how to do it. My dresses were made to measure (how they should be) and they fit perfectly. The price was perfect too – I had two dresses made to measure for a lot less than most people pay for one in England. I needed to add my own finishing touches to my outfit though. High heels don’t go with beach weddings so I invested into some bling bling designer flip flops. 

The final touch was a ‘one off’ fascinator, made especially for me by a talented young designer (Elena Wetherall of Fancy Bowtique) who is also my close friend. The fabrics used included Swarovski crystals, fine lace, silks and pearls.

Follow this link for “Sashenka” Bridal Fascinator  and “Deolinda” flower fascinator for a Bridesmaid

At first I did not think I would NEED two dresses.

I ordered my second dress when I realized that all guests would change for the evening reception, therefore I NEEDED evening dress. Well that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it LOL

Our whole wedding day was split in 3 parts: ceremony on the beach, private yacht charter and evening reception.

Yes, I even had wedding bikini for the boat as well.

*Our wedding colours and theme…*

Pink, pink, pink! All 50 shades of pink!

Pink Palace, pink flowers and even pink waist coats and ties for the men. Pink bridesmaid outfit and all shades of the pink for the guests.

Mark and I wore white. White limo, white sand and white boat.

*We chose our venue because…*

I fell in love with Florida when we were there on holiday. We had previously stayed at the Don Cesar for 2 nights for my birthday.

It is an amazing location, amazing service and Michelin quality food.

Some of the most special and memorable moments for ourselves and our guests are those nobody had to pay for – sunsets. (well, OK you pay for the flight tickets to get there).

*Our wedding party… *

The party started immediately after the ceremony and photographs on the way to the boat. All 10 of us in a super-stretch white limo, all comfortably sipping pink campaign whilst travelling an hour to Sarasota bay. My dream boat, the Princess 42 was waiting for us.

Don’t get too carried away – it wasn’t my wedding present – but it was amazing that Mark had managed to charter one for our special day to float our wedding party around Sarasota Bay like celebrities. We were joined by dolphins who swum alongside the boat, it was as if they wanted to be part of the party J Then came that amazing sunset. Thank you Captain Jack for an unforgettable adventure.

It was so romantic and relaxing, intimate and chic. Close family and friends came all the way from England to share this very special day with us. I felt we were starring in a movie, my very own movie where Mark and I play the leading roles.

The evening reception took place in a private room in the award winning Maritana Grille restaurant at the Don Cesar hotel.

My special memories of that night were my son’s speech (he gave me away), Mark’s speech of course and the speech from Paul Spriggins, Mark’s best man. He read wedding greetings from all of our friends and family who could not manage to come for our wedding.

It was very touching.

The party continued by some rather unique dances

Our favourite wedding photo…  The image of the two of us on the beach..

My advice to other brides… Don’t worry – be happy! Relax and Enjoy your day!

You might worry that something will go wrong. Sometimes things happen which you cannot control or predict. My hair dresser tuned up 1 hour later due to roads being closed on her way to my appointment due to an accident. My bridesmaid Hannah Hutchings, who is also

my son’s girlfriend, helped me a lot to stay calm. It is important to be with people who care about you. When my hairdresser turned up she did a fantastic job for me. That is a talent and high professionalism to deliver results. I looked GLAMOROUS.

All you have to remember: it is your day – enjoy it every moment.

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