January 9, 2020

Rob & Sameera | Old Town Alexandria, VA Engagement Photographer

I’m Stephanie, a wedding + lifestyle photographer based in Destin, Florida and Warrenton, Virginia. Whether I’m by the mountains in Virginia or the ocean on the Florida Gulf Coast, my soul feels at home, surrounded by rural living and the raw beauty of nature. I genuinely love what I do, and feel so passionate to share the enthusiasm and joy of these celebrations with you!

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Christmas may be over, but it’s finally time to share this darling couple with you all on the blog! While I was visiting family in Northern Virginia last month for Christmas, Rob, Sameera, and I got together to celebrate their engagement by taking photos. 🙂 They graciously welcomed me inside of their charming Old Town Alexandria home. I personally love the magic of Christmas decorations, so I was looking forward to photographing them in their new home with lights twinkling on the tree. 🙂 As soon as I walked in, I saw their pup, Pheobe, peeking from the back door. I couldn’t wait to include her in their photos as they got comfortable on the couch and enjoyed a cup of coffee. But as soon as we walked over to the Christmas tree and started taking pictures, Pheobe got upset that she wasn’t directed to be with her parents. So she boldly walked up to them and sat by their feet, pointing in my direction, ready for her close-up. HAHA! It was too perfect. 🙂 At that moment, it was known that she BELONGED in that family portrait.

After we finished taking photos around their home, we drove out to the dock in Old Town Alexandria to capture the glowy sunset light by the water. We made sure to bundle up because it was a chilly evening, considering it was December in Virginia. Sameera had on different layers to mix and match as we quickly took photos before it became dark. I love the mix and match options because it diversifies the session in a short period. Her pom-pom hat was my favorite! 🙂 But most importantly, if you cannot tell … I think these two know how to have fun together. 😉 HA! The smile and laughs together were endless. I’m so grateful to be their photographer to capture this genuine love. I’m just imagining what their wedding day will be like this year and I know without a doubt that they will be BEAMING and overflowing with love and happiness — I cannot WAIT!

Rob & Sameera’s Love Story

HOW ROB & SAMEERA MET

From Rob’s point of view

When looking back at how Samee and I started dating, my overall takeaway is thinking that, given the circumstance, how easily things could have never moved forward between us, but feeling so happy and fortunate that they did.

Samee and I met each other on Match.com.  At the time, she was going to dental school in Baltimore, and I was living and working in Washington, DC.  Given our different cities, our odds of meeting were already cut in half as I was a little more narrow – geographically speaking – in terms of where I was looking for women to potentially date.  Lucky for me, Samee was casting a wider net to include the DC area.  As I understand, Samee was also gaming the system a bit and was just using Match for a short trial period (lasting a week or so) so she didn’t have to pay any money.  So that meant there was also a very short time period for us to cross paths up.  I can only assume it was my stunning good looks and irresistibly charming profile that led Samee to reach out to me as one of the few, and lucky, guys during her short trial on Match. 

We started by sending a few messages back-and-forth.  I never liked online dating and had a very demanding job that limited my free time, so I always tried to exchange some messages at the start to try and get to know the other person a bit more to make sure there was a real and potential fit before agreeing to a date.  With no exaggeration, I can honestly say that the very few messages exchanged with Samee were enough to get me more excited than I had been with anyone else that I had ever gone out on a date with.  Samee was clearly intelligent, funny, extremely warm and friendly, and seemed to have a lot of the same interests and values as me.  I’m not sure if this is right, but I still feel like a completely random connection with Seville, Spain helped us form a special perceived connection right away.  I’m not sure why, but in one of our first messages, I referenced one of my biggest regrets was not studying abroad in Seville.  Turns out that is where Samee studied abroad in college and was one of the best times of her life.  Again, I’m not sure if that had any meaningful impact at all, but it just seemed to start things on the right track – like one of those seemingly very small coincidences that suggests some greater/special connection.

For our first date, I drove out to Baltimore after work to pick Samee up to go out for drinks.  We sat at a restaurant having a couple of drinks and snacking on some food for maybe an hour or two.  At that time, if you asked both Samee and I how well we thought the date was going, you probably would have gotten a very different answer.  The problem is that I can be a somewhat reserved person and often – unknowingly – mask my true emotions.  I think this was especially true with dating.  So although I may have been very excited about the date and excited that I may have found someone truly special, I don’t think Samee got the same impression.  I think she even texted her friend or maybe her mom that she didn’t think I was interested.  She was very wrong.

At that time, I was in the middle of a pretty busy case at work, and I actually did have a lot of work that I should have been doing that night.  So after a couple of drinks and maybe an hour or two, things seemed to be moving to a natural end of the date and a parting of ways.  We started walking back to my car with the idea that I would drive her home and then return to DC for the night.  But as we started walking to my car, my mind started racing with the feeling that I was making a huge mistake.  It sounds very cliché and like something out of a movie, but all I could think was that she was truly special and, if I left, things might never move forward and I could miss out on a potentially life-changing opportunity.  I didn’t care about work and what consequences might have come for ignoring it, I simply wanted to spend more time with her.  So we got to my car and I think we even sat down and got ready to drive away, but before starting the car, I hesitated a few seconds and then ultimately asked if instead of leaving, she wanted to go back out on the boardwalk just to hang out a bit longer.  We ended up spending another hour or two just sitting outside along the water and talking.  By the end of the night, I was smitten.  Samee probably didn’t know, but after that one night, I was so excited in thinking that I had found a truly special person and the possibility of a serious and lasting relationship.

Leaving out a lot of details, about 2-3 days after our first date, Samee had a very serious medical complication.  That weekend and the following week, I was out of town, and Samee was actually supposed to be out of town as well.  We started texting back-and-forth that weekend and Samee mentioned having some stomach problems.  I originally thought it was nothing serious, but eventually came to learn that their family had canceled their vacation and Samee was going to go into major surgery the following week.  I spent that week with my family in Oregon, and one of the main topic of conversations for the whole trip – for me, at least – was what I should do.  Here was a girl that I really liked and wanted to pursue, but dating and the initial stages of a potential relationship are already difficult and awkward enough, and now how was I supposed to proceed when you add the complication of an incredibly serious medical emergency.  Should I send flowers?  Is that enough?  I really like her, so maybe not.  Should I visit her in the hospital?  Does she even like me and want to see me again?  Even if she does, is that coming on too strong?  We had only gone on one date, so maybe she would think I was a bit crazy if I showed up.  Maybe she does want to see me again, but this is not the right time or place.  Needless to say, I received all kinds of different opinions.  And Samee didn’t provide much help either.  We kept texting after her surgery and I tried to be as polite and gentle as possible in making clear that I wanted to see her but didn’t want to intrude if she wanted some space.  Her responses were not helpful.  After I would try to lay out these complex thoughts, she would often respond in excruciatingly short and vague responses like “sure,” “if you want,” “it’s up to you.”  She would later explain that she was heavily medicated and could barely see her phone to type even a word or two, which makes complete sense, but I was left to agonize over how to interpret these texts and what to do.

In the end, I decided to visit her in the hospital.  For the record, I think my family advised against this – it was too serious a move for after only one date.  But I really liked her, I wanted to show that I liked her and that I cared about her and what she was going through, and I didn’t care if that was “coming on too strong.”  And I think Samee’s best friend advised her against having me come visit as well.  I believe the thought was, for a boy that you might be interested in, it was not a great idea to have the second time he sees you be after spending 5-6 days in the hospital.  Luckily, Samee and I knew better.

So our second date happened in Samee’s hospital room.  I later learned that, before I got there, Samee basically flooded her hospital room after trying to wash her hair in the accompanying bathroom, but that’s a story for her to tell.  When I got to the hospital, I got to meet Samee’s Mom, sister, and step-dad.  Meeting the family for the first time is difficult and high-pressure enough, but try doing it after one date and after something as serious as a life-threatening medical emergency.  I’m sure they thought I was shy and quiet, but I just didn’t know how to have a normal conversation in those circumstances.  After some brief small-talk with her family, they left to go have dinner and Samee and I had some time alone to talk and catch up a little.  Not too long after, a nurse came in to check on Samee and see how she was doing.  This involved checking Samee’s vitals through her hospital gown.  I found myself awkwardly staring at the ceiling and odd corners of the room in an effort to be a gentleman, trying to simultaneously give her privacy in an intimate and personal moment but also not draw too much attention to it so as to embarrass her.  And then I vividly remember the nurse asking her whether she was passing gas, and how often she was doing so.  I have friends that have dated for years and have never farted in the same room as one another, and here we were on our second date being forced to talk about this in the open.  So it may not have been the most romantic or idyllic of second dates, but it didn’t matter.  We got to see each other again.  We got to spend more time together.  Even if it wasn’t stated explicitly, we got to show that we liked and cared for the other.  And perhaps going through this incredibly awkward and difficult situation together formed such a strong bond at the outset that helped us get through the initial struggles of any relationship.

So in looking back and thinking about how we first started dating, I think about how easily things could have never come to be.  What if I did end the first date early?  What if I sent flowers instead of visiting the hospital?  What if Samee wanted to wait until she was out of the hospital to see me again?  Or what if she thought that maybe it would be best to wait a few weeks until she was fully recovered before trying to date again (which would be completely understandable).  So many things could have gone wrong or sent the wrong signal, and things could have so easily turned out where we both went our separate ways.  But they didn’t, and here we are now today.  Some may read this and attribute it to fate.  It was simply meant to be.  Maybe that’s so, but I’m not the biggest believer in fate.  To me, it seems to trivialize each person’s independent actions and responsibility for arriving at the outcome.  So when I look back and consider where we are today, I believe it’s because when Samee and I first met, we immediately realized we had found someone truly special and someone that we could envision possibly spending the rest of our lives with.  I’m not saying we immediately fell in love with each other, I think that takes time, but we both knew the potential was there.  And we were right.

I love you, Samee, and I can’t wait to marry you and spend the rest of our lives together.

HOW ROB PROPOSED TO SAMEERA

From Sameera’s point of view

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love having a house full of good food and my entire family, but most of all I love our annual tradition. Every year we go around the table and each say what we are thankful for from the past year. We take it very seriously, thinking about what to say for days leading up. It is such a wonderful moment of reflection and sharing that I look forward to each year. 

Last year began just as any other year, we cooked, we drank, we ate, and we sat around the table. I was seated to the left of Rob, meaning he was the last of the family to say his thankful speech. In mine I included being so thankful for my amazing boyfriend and all of the support that he gives me, being thankful for looking into the future (as we were in the process of buying a home together), and really feeling like all of my dreams were coming true. Tears rolled down my cheeks from how lucky I felt in my life and what a great year it had been. Rob was up next and he began by saying very nice things about me, and then he kept going. Don’t get me wrong it was so so sweet, but it seemed a little strange to be listing all of the reasons that he loved me so much, and then it clicked to me that something else was going on… He stood up from his chair, got down on one knee, and proposed. It could not have been a more perfect day. My family means everything to me and having them share at that moment with us was so special.

Thank you, Rob and Sameera, for welcoming me into your lovely home with open arms. It was so nice and cozy to start your session in the very place you do life together. 🙂 I loved getting to know you two better as well as your love stories, and I cannot WAIT for your wedding day this year!!! CONGRATS!

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