February 26, 2015
Photos: Amelia Strauss Photography
“What’s meant to be will always find a way. I’m gonna marry that boy someday.”
― Trisha Yearwood
When you are six, you think you’re going to marry the boy down the street. Never does that actually happen. When you’re sixteen, you think you’re going to marry the boy you have a crush on at work. Never, ever does that actually happen. When you hit your 20’s, you think you’ll get married to the love of your life in a dream wedding in romantic Italy. Never, ever does that actually happen. Oh, wait. It just did for Samantha and Rob Echols.
Scroll down below the images to read their full wedding story.
HERE’S THEIR WEDDING STORY:
Samantha and Rob Echols’ paths kept crossing. They grew up a few blocks from one another. They knew each other from band. In the eighth grade, she was soooo in love with him. They both worked at the same place, the UPS Store. Nothing ever happened between the two until the last time their paths crossed. The last time it happened, it stuck for good. Samantha is a runner and had run a race with some of Rob’s family members. There were lots of photos of them posted on Facebook. Rob was on Facebook, about to delete his account when he saw Samantha’s picture. At the time, Samantha was working Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He sent her a private message with his phone number. At first, Samantha thought Rob just wanted to hang out. That was not the case. Rob showed up at a race Samantha was running and suggested they go out. She had to ask him “Is this a date?” His answer was yes. That night, they stayed and talked until the place closed. Samantha says “I never thought you really know like people say you know when it’s right but I knew. I knew Rob was it for me.
Samantha was working at a big show at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. Rob came along to help her. The couple took a break from work for a while and Rob had big plans for their little break. As he drove away from the Civic Center, Samantha kept telling him he was going the wrong way. What she did not know was that Rob had asked for her hand in marriage and he was planning to propose. Rob was on his way to Linn Park, the place of her race and where he met her for their first date. When they got out to walk around, Rob got down on one knee and asked Samantha to be his wife.
The couple knew they had a limited window of time to get married. They also knew that Samantha felt very nervous about a big wedding so they wanted to plan something very small and intimate. They had talked about getting married in Italy. As it turned out, Samantha’s mother was planning a trip to Italy for her 60th birthday. Samantha and Rob were not invited on the trip but asked if she minded if they crashed her trip for a private family wedding. Immediately, the families began getting their passports in order and the planning was underway. Samantha found her Augusta Jones gown at The Carriage House in Homewood and luckily, it was one that was available in the brief window they had to plan the wedding.
Since Rob’s sister is wedding photographer Amelia Strauss, they did not have to worry with finding a photographer but the remaining wedding details would have to be planned in Italy.
Samantha used a website, Distinctive Italian Weddings, to help her with some of the logistics and vendors in Italy. They were staying in Lucca, the famous city in Tuscany surrounded by Renaissance-era walls, where no cars are allowed. They could not marry in Lucca; January is the month many Italians take off and there was no official available to perform the ceremony. The ceremony was fifteen miles away at San Zeno church in Pisa. The mayor of Pisa performed their civil ceremony and issued their marriage documents in Italian. Rob’s brother-in-law performed the religious ceremony.
The wedding was in the morning, as is the tradition in Italy. Samantha says she had very little control over details but everything worked out perfectly with the exception of the bouquet. The peonies she wanted were stranded on a train so she had to settle for roses. The florist, a 70-year old man, delivered her bouquet to her by bicycle, on as fate would have it, the anniversary of his own wedding. They took photographs around some of the local landmarks including the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They traveled back to Lucca for photographs at their hotel, a restored palace called the Residenza d’Epoca Palazzo Tucci where frescoed ceilings, original furniture, and priceless period artwork fills the ancient walls.
Their wedding dinner was held at Osteria Baralla, a fifteenth-century local landmark located in the medieval quarters of Lucca, once the site of a Roman amphitheater. The owner planned the menu and brought out course after course, served in the Italian tradition. His wife made their wedding cake. As you might imagine, the entire restaurant sang to them in Italian and wished the couple well.
After a honeymoon week in Italy, the couple returned home and celebrated their wedding with family and friends. A short time later, Rob was deployed to Afghanistan with Alabama’s Army National Guard. The couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Maxwell, and have just announced that baby #2 is due in September.
Congratulations, Samantha and Rob! Our Bromberg’s family and staff wishes you a lifetime of love and happiness together.