Samantha and Keaton

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How We Met

Growing up, I would hear the perfect love stories of couples from my parents’ and grandparents’ generation who fell in love as teenagers and got married, but I never thought I would be one of those girls who would marry their high school sweetheart! Then, in 2012, my life changed forever when the quiet kid who I just knew as my biology teacher’s son, sat next to me in my debate class during my junior year of high school.

Fast forward a few weeks and Keaton said he could help me with my math homework (and I wish I could say I was just faking it to get his attention, but I actually was desperate for some tutoring). And that’s all she wrote. A few weeks later was homecoming and I already knew that Keaton was banking on asking me to be his date. It’s a good thing I said yes, because little did I know I was saying yes to the beginning of our story.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve shared so many big moments together and made so many memories that some people don’t have the chance to make in a lifetime. Thanks to Keaton’s loving and amazing family who have done nothing but make me feel like one of their own since the beginning, we’ve done everything from hiking volcanos in Costa Rica to exploring the Grand Canyon (twice!!) I’ll never forget just a few weeks after we officially started dating, without a moment’s hesitation, his mom invited me to join them on a Disney cruise. I was floored that these people who barely knew me already wanted to make me a part of their memories!

Eventually homecoming dances became prom, junior year became senior year, high school became college, and the next thing you know, we are getting married! I am so grateful that we have been able to share so many milestones together, and for all the people who have supported us along the way. I’ve been able to watch Keaton grow (literally and figuratively) from being the quiet boy sitting next to me in class into the amazing, strong, successful man he is today, and I couldn’t be more proud of him or more excited for what the rest of our story holds.

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how they asked

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California has always been our “heart home” as I like to call it. We started coming out here for vacations with his family when we graduated high school, and ever since then we can’t stop coming back. Then, when his parents decided to move out here in 2015, it was easy to make the cross-country trek from where we met in Orlando, FL to Southern California at least twice a year. Keaton comes from a fairly large family with 3 older brothers, and this year all of them, including their wives and grandparents, were able to join us for our routine Christmas trip to Cali.

We already had a lot to celebrate this year with Keaton’s mom’s birthday on Christmas Eve, his oldest brother having a baby, his other brother getting married earlier this year, and not to mention we had already been over the moon with Keaton getting a job offer in Nashville, TN! So I of course had been starting to get antsy seeing everyone getting engaged and married while Keaton had always told me “the right time will come,” although it felt like it never would!

His mom has always made sure to pack our California trips full of unforgettable places and things to do, and this year we had plans to go to a restaurant that sits way up on a hill in Orange County, CA with a beautiful overlook of the city lights twinkling below. They had been before and I just thought we were going since everyone was finally together for the first time in a while.

Did I have an inkling? Perhaps a small one. But in my typical manner, I overthought it to the point where I had psyched myself out of the possibility of him proposing on this trip. Keaton and his family also knew I am impossible to surprise, so they had their work cut out for them!

We left for the restaurant about an hour and half before sunset, and the whole way there his mom was beaming about how she couldn’t wait to see the view, but I could imagine how breathtaking it would be and so I didn’t think anything of her excitement. After climbing the side of a mountain to reach the top of the hill, we got to the top where I was in awe of the sheer beauty of this place, and we hadn’t even walked inside yet!

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Photo credit: John Cordova

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Photo credit: John Cordova

We barely walked in the front door and told the hostess our reservation name when Keaton started pulling on my hand asking me to come with him so he could show me the view from the look out. His mom was in the bathroom and so I insisted we wait for her, but he insisted even harder that we just go and look.

And so I gave in reluctantly and we started towards the back of the restaurant. When we got out there, I noticed a couple wearing pretty casual clothing for such a nice restaurant and they had their cameras, but I assumed they were just tourists. Then Keaton led me around to where we had a jaw-dropping view of the California mountains and the city lights below. My favorite.

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Photo credit: John Cordova

As I was rambling on about how pretty the sunshine looked through the haze and hills, Keaton turned towards me, and took my hands. He looked at me and said “Sammi, I love you with all of my heart…” Then I heard the camera shutters. I looked slightly behind him and I saw the cameras pointed at us. That’s when I finally realized what was happening. I looked at Keaton and I said, “Why are they taking pictures of us?” He then dropped down on one knee and held in his hands, my DREAM ring that me and my best friend had designed together almost half a year ago.

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Photo credit: John Cordova

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Photo credit: John Cordova

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Photo credit: John Cordova

It all felt like such a dream with the California sunset and the love of my life down in front of me holding that ring. All I could do was sit there with my hand over my face crying like a baby. Keaton had to ask me again if I would marry him because I forgot to answer the first time! All I remember is that I said, “Yeah!” So casual, but with all my heart.

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Photo credit: John Cordova

I couldn’t be more excited to now be able to call that boy I met in 11th grade debate class, my fiancé. And to have made this sweet memory in our sweet heart home made it priceless. We’ve already made countless memories and I can’t wait to make countless more with him. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re getting married, and I’m going to be a Leslie! I love you Keaton!!!

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Special Thanks

John Cordova
 | Photographer