Samuel and Erik

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian

How We Met

I used to make my birthday a massive production, but as my 30th birthday crept closer I became less and less enthusiastic. I had fallen victim to our youth-obsessed society where 30 is “old.” I ended up deciding to run away to Las Vegas solo for one night, to face my ridiculous fears of aging and loneliness before heading to Los Angeles to spend a Dirty 30 x Cinco de Mayo boozy weekend with some of my closest friends. I ended up having the most incredible night in Las Vegas and early the next morning while running downstairs for coffee I met Erik in the elevator. We started talking and next thing I knew we were hooking up. It was so random, so crazy, but I chalked it up to “What Happens in Vegas.” We exchanged numbers, lied and said we would call each other and parted ways. I never thought I would see him again.

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian

However, when I got to LA and told my friends about my experience and “the guy in the elevator” there were questions. Most notably my best friend Becca asking, “What does he look like?” This led to me texting him, explaining the situation and requesting a photo. He obliged and somehow we continued texting. Within a week he told me that he was going to Hawaii and asked if I wanted to join him for an adventure…diving with sharks, laying on the beach, eating good food, but there was one condition: we needed to watch the new X-Men movie that was being released that week. I have been a lifelong fan of X-Men, since I was a little boy. I didn’t waste time trying to comprehend this giant gift the universe was presenting me with, instead I abandoned all reason and said yes.

Photo by Hagop Kalaidjian

In short, our first date was a week long trip to Hawaii that changed both of our lives. We came from two separate worlds, I was openly gay and he was not, but somehow despite all of the challenges standing in our way we fell in love. Within days of returning home he was on a plane to see me in Phoenix. Within a month of our trip we were living together and have spent almost every day together since. We run our business from home and travel together. Throughout our relationship we have worked through our share of issues, but thankfully we’ve never grown tired of each other.

First Photo from Trip to Hawaii by Samuel Anthony

How They Asked

Since we produce content for a living, we share a large part of our lives with the world. Our line of work can take away your privacy and if you’re not careful your personal space. A great example of this was how we were approaching our engagement and marriage. We decided to get engaged during an upcoming trip to New York in May, planning a photoshoot around it. The staged scenario definitely took the romance out of our engagement, but it did give me something to look forward to. So I had NO idea Erik was going to propose, in fact, I wasn’t even thinking about it.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

For months we had plans to go to Los Angeles for Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend. Some of my closest friends were congregating in town and we were really looking forward to seeing everyone. There was so much to celebrate, friends are getting new houses, some are new parents and others are pregnant as hell! Right before we left town Erik was starting to get sick. As much as I wanted to see everyone, I suggested that we should just stay home…and avoid both getting sick from a long weekend and travel. He insisted that he was OK and that we couldn’t cancel on friends. So we packed up the car and away we went.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

We love to multitask, so whenever we go on a trip we plan ahead, researching and making arrangements to check out and feature several restaurants on our pages along with a hotel. Neither of us had been to the Hotel Figueroa since its extensive renovation, but we knew it was going to be beautiful. We were not disappointed. They’ve maintained all the vintage details while updating the decor with fabulous furnishings, modern amenities and perfectly prepared dirty martinis. The beautiful space provides endless grammable opportunities, and we did a walk-through upon arrival to strategize our shoot locations. That’s when we found it, a gorgeous archway running alongside the pool with lush green vines beginning to flourish against the hard metallic structure. We were both taken aback, it was stunning. We decided to wait to shoot there until the following night when a friend would be with us who could shoot both of us together.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

Fast forward to the next evening, the night of the proposal, at this point I was starting to feel like I was getting the bug Erik caught, but we pulled ourselves together and went downstairs to the beautiful bar at Hotel Figueroa. We were waiting for our friend Becky to come meet us before heading over to my friend Becca’s new house to meet up with everyone; yes not one, but two Rebeccas. I remember telling Erik that I was feeling a little crappy and that I wanted to go upstairs and change. He asked me nicely if I could hold on a little longer, he reminded me how much happier I would be later if we got a good shot together. I agreed.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

Our friend arrived and I could tell that she was sick. I thought to myself, “Wow everyone is really pushing through tonight. I am so lucky to have so much love in my life.” Next thing I know, Becky and I are standing in the perfect spot for the photo underneath the beautiful arch while Erik adjusted the camera settings to ensure we would have great shots. He gave the camera to Becky and looked at me a way I will never forget. I knew something was off, but nothing felt wrong. “You know how much I love you. Right?” he said, as he reached in his jacket. “You know I want to spend my life with you. Right?” In a flash everything fell into place. I knew what was happening. It was happening. He was asking me right now. The red Cartier box was out and open, a beautiful rose gold LOVE ring staring back at me. I began to cry, but I wasn’t sad. In fact, I have never felt so much love. Like a cup so full that it overflows. I kissed him, put the ring on and POOF I was engaged, but it wasn’t over yet. I still had a house full of people to tell and I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

The drive over felt like an eternity. All I could do was envision how everyone was going to react. What a perfect coincidence I thought. I couldn’t wait to share this night with so many people that I love. The three of us arrived to what ended up being a surprise party for us. Erik had gathered some of my closest friends to celebrate our engagement and it was incredible. There were people I was expecting, some were surprises, but I’ve known them all for years and love them like family. There were Mr. & Mr. balloons…tiramisu, booze and pregnant friends. I could not have asked for more. I am grateful to everyone involved, but mostly for Erik. In a world full of over produced moments, he gave me something real to hold onto. It meant the world to me and I will always remember it. The entire experience reminded me that I chose the right man to spend my life with.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez

He didn’t tell me at the time, but he also surprised me with a trip to San Francisco so we could take a minute to celebrate our engagement together before the stress of the wedding planning takes hold. We are leaving this weekend for Valentine’s Day. I’m a lucky girl.

Photo via Samuel Anthony and Erik Velasquez