Elena and Sam

Cincinnati, Ohio



Photographer | Ashley Lauren Photography

Location | Top of the Park Cincinnati

Elena and Sam originally hail from Kentucky, but plan to move to Cincinatti together after they are married. They chose to document their love journey in the the new city they’ll call home.


Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?

In Fall 2017, I first met Sam at a bible study for “young professionals” in Lexington, KY. After the study, we talked about our mutual love for donuts and Sam asked about my work college ministry. He was very interested in the Navigators and asked me to get donuts and coffee at our mutual favorite donut place that following weekend (I still tease Sam that he used “the Navigators” to go on a date with me). I said “sure!” This is the part of our story that one would naturally assume led to our “happily ever after,” except it didn’t. Our time together was very business-like as I shared about the Navigators. There wasn’t much of a connection between us and I left feeling ok about our time together, but not very interested in continuing to talk with Sam in the future. So, I didn’t. We both drifted off to our separate places in Lexington, focusing on the work God had for each of us to do. It felt like a swing and a miss for both of us.About 9 months later, I embarked on my fundraising portion of my Navigator job and found myself reaching out to Sam again. I hoped that he would still want to learn more about the Navigators as I started planning for my move to Cincinnati. My biggest desire was that Sam would join my financial support team! (how romantic of me….) He excitedly said “yes!” and we agreed to meet again at our favorite donut shop. Before I got into the shop, I prayed that God would make this an enjoyable time for both of us. I was a little fearful that it would be awkward, that it would mimic our last time together.Our short meeting ended up turning into an amazing three hour conversation. We talked about our pasts, Sam’s love of Bob Ross, my love of being a goof, a little about the Navigators, and so much more. I sat there amazed at how God was answering the prayer that I prayed. All I asked for was that it would be an enjoyable time together. God ended up answering that prayer. Little did I know, but God was also answering the prayer I have been praying for the past five years: that He would bring a man into my life with a servant’s heart, a desire to listen well, an inquisitive mind, a steadfast and humble spirit, and most of all a heart for Him.On December 26th, I said “yes!” to marrying the man that I fell out of contact with for 9 months.

What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together. What makes your relationship unique?

We are both uniquely different, our own people, and I think that is what makes our relationship so special. Sam loves reading and researching new things, while I love being loud, making up my own jingles for whatever I am doing at that present moment. We love seeing movies together as well as trying out cuisine from all over the world. Also, if you are ever on Youtube, we recommend Fitness Marshall, Sam and I love to dance to his “hip” routines, it keeps us young 🙂


How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship?

See question #1: The moment happened at different times for both of us. For Elena, I knew Sam was the one when we were watching one of my favorite movies, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” probably 3 months into us dating. I had this overwhelming feeling of being “home” with Sam and I knew that I wanted to have this feeling for the rest of my life. For Sam, he knew I was the one about one week into dating, he still has the text saved when he told his best man that he was going to marry me (after our first date!).


Give us all the details about the proposal. How and where did it happen? Was it a surprise? What was the planning process?

Elena is from St. Louis, MO, as while she was home for Christmas time, Sam drove up to surprise her. He was in cahoots with her parents and they helped him get her to a place that she wouldn’t have expected to be proposed too. Elena and her parents went to an indoor climbing gym and as Elena was repelling down the wall, she turned around and saw Sam on one knee with flowers in one hand and a ring box in the other. Sam proposed with a silicon ring for rock climbing, that was a surprise to Elena! (We ended up picking up the real ring from the jeweler the next day).


We’re all about the bling… Tell us all about that ring!

The ring is absolutely amazing and gorgeous and unique. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it for our engagement photos because it is at the jeweler being used to make the wedding band. But, the ring uses all old diamonds that come from my late grandma’s old engagement ring. The ring was created by the jeweler that made my mom’s ring, my grandma’s, and lots of my aunts. It looks very vintage, even though it was created in 2019.


Are you excited to start planning your wedding day? Do you have any ideas in mind yet?

Well, we are actually 39 days from the big day, so YES! We are getting married in a rustic barn with family and friends on a Friday in May. We will have yummy Kentuckian food, lots of dancing, and sparklers to send us off into the night. I am so excited for that day!