Thaina and Samuel’s Engagement in Joshua Tree National park

Thaina and Samuel first took notice of each other during a rival basketball game in which their high schools played against the other - Thaina a cheerleader for her school, and Samuel a basketball player for his. It would be three years before their paths would cross again, this time as co-workers followed by classmates - their acquaintanceship would lead to friendship and friendship to romance. Together for seven years, their relationship has survived the test of time - becoming stronger after each step until, as Samuel puts it, "the time came to become one..."

Read all about Thaina & Samuel's love story, surprise botanical gardens proposal, and wedding aspirations in their "Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets the desert" engagement session at Joshua Tree National Park.
(Photography by Carlos and Grace Luna)

Bride & Groom-to-be: Thaina & Samuel
Occupations: Thaina - therapist, graduate student and fashion blogger. Samuel - educator, photographer and web designer.
Wedding date: November 5th 2017
Wedding location: San Diego, California
Location of Engagement shoot: Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. We first met in high school while our rival schools played against each other. I was a basketball player, she was a cheerleader, and we went our separate ways. It was three years before we reunited, first as coworkers, then stumbled into being classmates, fell into friendship, and soon became much more...
Fast forward seven more years of ups, downs, struggles, successes, rainy days, and shining sun…the time had come to be more than just together. The time came to become one.
Thaina had been dropping hints that she had never been to the local botanical gardens so I (Sam) set up a photo shoot for her at the botanical gardens. What she didn’t know was that I invited all of her local friends and family to hide just off the path. While she was in the midst of modeling, her friends trickled in to watch her do what she does best. When it became obvious that the crowd watching her was not there by chance, a violin player began playing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. I choose this song because it was attached to some bad memories previously in our relationship and I wanted to not only create new memories but change past ones if I could. The time to play my part came and I had a long speech prepared. As soon as I saw her beauty I had only one thing to say: “Will you marry me?”

Describe your engagement session. We love fashion and we love hiking so we wanted to choose a theme where we could incorporate both. If I had to name the theme I’d say "Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets the desert." We wanted it to be simple, polished, organic, with a hint of sass. It was also important for it not to be too posed so we hired a couple that understands us as a couple to be our photographers.

What did you do on your first date? We had been texting and talking for a while but Thaina wanted to take it slow. A mutual friend needed to take a long drive late at night so Thaina decided to invite Sam to tag along. They spent the whole night talking about music, culture, and the east coast. Once at their destination, Thai and Sam snuck away to take a late night walk on the beach. That night, the waves were illuminated by (what they now know was) bioluminescent (green glowing) plants and animals in the water as Thai and Sam walked along the shore – laughing and enjoying the warm California night.

What's your favorite thing to do as a couple? Eat. We seriously love discovering new recipes and restaurants.

How has wedding planning been so far? Wedding planning is equally stressful as it is exciting. It’s difficult to try and balance saving towards our life together and spending towards our special day. We’re blessed to have a strong community to support us along our journey.

Tell us what you're looking forward to most on the wedding day. The wedding night!

Photographers- Carlos and Grace Luna
Sam’s Suit- Macy’s
Thai’s Dress- Meshki Boutique

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