With summer slipping through our fingers, we are welcoming the return of Autumn with our latest #GiveLoveStories in Chicago. Jen + Sam shared their love story with us during their vow renewal in a woodsy wonderland away from the bustling center of the city.

How did you and Sam meet?

Sam and I met when we were in college. I was a freshman and he was a junior. We actually didn’t like each other in those first months. He had those wholesome Midwestern sensibilities, but I was fresh out of SoCal. In spite of all this, life found a way to bring us together. We were the only social science majors in our friend group. Sam was a sociology + European history major and I was as a political science major. We cared a lot about social justice and making a tangible difference in our world in this regard. I was also intrigued by how different he was from any guy I’d known in California and he was equally curious about my very non-Midwestern persona. And last but not least, we were – and still are – both really, really goofy. Eventually, all those things culminated into our relationship. That was 2010 and we’ve been together since.

Tell us about the proposal. 

I told him that I wanted something unconventional, understated, unexpected, raw, and intimate. No cameras, no videos, no audience — just us. No “hallmark” moment (because love is so much more than those perfectly scripted moments). Also, no diamonds. When he proposed, Sam said he had a gift for me. It was a book called, “How to Love Jennifer: 10 Easy Steps.” At first, I thought he wrote an entire novel on how to love me, which he most definitely could because he’s the one person in this world who knows me so well. He started his monologue on how much he loves me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He then popped open the book to reveal my ring. It was one of the most human, raw, and authentic moments of my life. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I didn’t think I would cry the day I got proposed to, but I cried.  

Tell us about your unique ring.

My ring is seriously my dream ring. Raw, uncut quartz fashioned into a simple gold band. It represents everything I care about – authenticity, intentionality, living to my own beat, the raw (human) condition and its experiences, and living simply and frugally so that money goes to the things that really matter in life and in this world. It represents what we want our love to look like.

What do you love most about each other?

From Jennifer: We have many key similarities, but we’re also very different from each other. I’m more of the Type A personality – ambitious, easily stressed, detail-obsessed and fast paced. Sam, on the other hand, is very laid-back, nurturing, steadfast, faithful and consistent. The biggest thing for me is that Sam has a heart of gold and could very easily be the hero in any novel. It’s what attracted me to him in the first place.

From Sam: This is one of those questions that you immediately know the answer to in your heart, but find it impossible to articulate succinctly. What I love most about Jennifer, and what I will always love, is her to love others more than they deserve.

Look One: ‘Skyler’ by Limor Rosen 

Look Two: ‘Gigi’ by Emmy Mae