Sami and Sam's Proposal at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Sam and Sami_3

How We Met

In the summer of 2014, Sam’s best friend Adam, who lives in Cincinnati, gave him a call to ask if he wanted to go on a Birthright trip to Israel. For those who don’t know, Birthright is a not-for-profit organization that sponsors free ten-day trips to Israel for young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26. Although the trip was a Cincinnati-only trip, Adam promised Sam that he could get him a spot. Sam reluctantly agreed to go on the trip as long as Adam agreed to fill out all of his paperwork. In the meantime, I was living in Washington DC, finishing up grad school. In October, my best friend from camp growing up (who also happens to live in Cincinnati) gave me a call to tell me that there was a Cincinnati Birthright trip taking place in December and there were two spots left. She said “I’ll go if you go” and with no hesitations, I said “sure why not?”

Sam and Sami_9

Fast forward to December, where Sam and I finally met for the first time on our way to Israel at JFK airport. He likes to say he played hard to get at the beginning, but after a couple of days on the trip he seized his opportunity to get to know me better. We were on a hike and I was cold, so like a gentleman Sam offered me his jacket. We spent the rest of the day together talking, laughing, and getting to know each other and have been pretty much inseparable since.

Sam and Sami_10

How He Asked

Over the last couple weeks of summer, Sam and I have been trying to be intentional about making the most of the little bit of beautiful weather we have in Chicago by taking advantage of our city and doing fun activities. We are moving in together next month and since we are consolidating our furniture, we are both trying to sell overlapping odds and ends. I had a lot of items listed on various apps, but got little play on any of them. Finally on Thursday a man expressed interest in my coffee table, so like anyone trying to sell something would, I set at appointment with him to come pick it up that evening.

When I got home from work that night, Sam was sitting on the couch in dress pants, dripping sweat with his shirt off. I didn’t think anything of it, and proceeded to sit down on the couch next to him. He immediately got up and declared that we were going on a date. Just getting home from a long day of work, I was not having it. I wanted to unwind and wait for the guy to come pick up my coffee table. So to say that I was stubborn is an understatement. Sam knew how to handle it and said “This is our date night, the coffee table can wait. We’ve never been to the zoo and it closes at 6:30 so we need to go now. Put on a dress, and I suggest its this one (as he pulled a dress out of my closet)”. I quickly shut my mouth, put on the dress, and we headed out the door.

Sam and Sami_8

Sam got an Uber and we headed towards the Lincoln Park Zoo. Clueless as ever, I immediately started thinking about my stomach and asked if Sam had dinner plans included in this date night. He told me no, so I sat in the car scouring Open Table to make last minute dinner reservations. As we got closer to the zoo, Sam realized that the Uber was taking us to the North entrance, and he had planned to go to the South. He told the uber driver to let us out. I asked him how he knew where he was going (as “we” had never been there before) and he told me it was an intuition. We walked through one section of the zoo (saw like one animal), and he lead me over to a bridge overlooking the Chicago skyline. As we got to the spot, he started his speech and it all started to make some sense in my head. Always lacking patience, I interrupted with “omg are you proposing”, causing him to cut his speech short, reach into his pocket, get down on one knee and ask me to “win at life” with him for the rest of our lives.

Sam and Sami_4

Sam and Sami_5

Sam and Sami_1

Still in shock, I said “of course I’ll marry you!” Little did I know that he had a photographer hiding in the bushes capturing the moment. I facetimed my mom and she was excited as ever. She told me my dad was playing golf, so I facetimed him next, saw some greenery and immediately just assumed he was at the golf course.

Sam and Sami_6

Sam and Sami_7

As we walked out of the zoo I said, “so I take it we aren’t using my open table reservations, are we?” He said of course not and we made our way towards our favorite restaurant. We walked in, and Sam told the hostess “Baron party of two”. As she lead us to our table I couldn’t help but tell her we just got engaged. I was so distracted as we approached the table that I didn’t even notice a whole large table with everyone of them covering their faces with their menus. I noticed my sister’s hair from under the menu, and freaked out as I realized that he surprised me with my family all the way from Ohio, and his family (who came all the way from Florida). It was a perfect night and an amazing weekend and I still managed to sell my coffee table!

Sam and Sami_2

Special Thanks

Gregory Byers
Photographer