Candice + Sam

I said 'I Love You' on the very first date.

We were both working in the Farm and Garden at the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur in 2011. It’s a retreat center famous for its hot spring baths. Candice was a long-term apprentice and I was a work scholar. It was cool because we got to know each other as workmates and as friends in a really beautiful environment. Surrounded by rainbow chard and dinosaur kale, how can you go wrong? 

Our first date was about a week after the 2012 winter solstice, when the world was supposed to end. At the time I was living in LA trying to be a writer, and she was up in Big Sur. We had been pen pals for a long time. The world didn't end, so we hung out with some of her best friends in a cozy little spot in the mountains drinking a weird beverage called "Adult Chocolate Milk". We picked it out together in CVS after making out in her Subaru. That was our first kiss. Candice was really different from the other people I'd dated because she was present all the time. I read somewhere that "charisma" literally means "presence of God," and that's always been my feeling with her.


I said "I love you" on the very first date. It was scary but I was feeling it in my body and I knew it was true. We were lying down next to each other and it just slipped out of my mouth before I could take it back.


We never talked about marriage but I wanted to propose to her on our three-year anniversary, the winter solstice. I got a ring on Etsy and didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do. It was pouring rain but I managed to get us to this tapas joint in Carmel. The food was mediocre, it was overpriced, and I was nervous and just not myself. Then, right before the check came, she looked down at her phone. "You'll never believe this! Mike just proposed to Kristen!" (her best friend.) I was completely bummed. An hour later I got down on one knee, and it was one of the best moments of my life.


We were both excited to have a wedding. We had a family wedding in North Carolina, at the house that I grew up in, and the following weekend we had a beautiful reception with our friends in Big Sur. North Carolina was super beautiful in the middle of July. In the woods, the spot was cool and mysterious and quiet, right next to a creek that I used to play in as a kid. We had a chuppah with pictures of our eight grandparents in the four corners. It felt like they were watching over us during the ceremony. We also had a ring-blessing ceremony, where we put both of our rings in a bird's nest and passed them around to all of our families. Each person spent a minute or so with the nest, putting their intentions and blessings into the rings and our future. In the silence all you could hear were a few birds and the creek beside us.


Two of Candice’s friends outfitted her with custom made pieces. She collaborated with each of them, and kept it all secret from me. It was a total surprise when I saw her coming down the aisle in her honey golden dress. And the Agate earrings were a whole other story. They matched identical to a necklace her late father had given to her mother. She was in tears when she pulled them out of the jewelry box and saw they matched perfectly.

We both meditated the morning of the wedding. I don't think we could have gotten through the event without meditation. We wrote our own vows. I didn't want to be too grandiose and promise the moon, but I did want to shoot high, and describe the type of best-case-scenario husband that I wanted to be. I think I cried more than she did, which is kind of embarrassing.


We had organic pork barbecue from this place called "Pig" which was completely delightful and not kosher in any way. Our party was pretty off the hook. Candice is a wedding DJso she had the music under control. She made a dope playlist that surprisingly got my whole family to the dance floor. Everyone got pretty wild, dancing and drinking mango mojitos in our living room. On our honeymoon we went to Barcelona and Ibiza, viewing the amazing architecture and tapas bar crawling in Barcelona, followed by beach-hopping with hippies in Ibiza. It was heavenly.


Dress by Lily Blue 

Earrings: Amy Wolfe

Pics by Michelle Magdalena