When Samantha Danielle Chavez, 30, met Andrea Renee Mendez, 34, she says she knew very quickly that she wanted to marry Andrea. “It’s hard to not fall in love with her infectious energy, beautiful smile, and gorgeous eyes,” Samantha says. “There was an instant connection with us. And on top of all that, after seeing her being a mother to two beautiful daughters, I just knew I had to be with her forever and that I wanted her to be the mother to our children—and most of all, my wife.”
Houston native Samantha attended San Jacinto College and the University of Houston, and is currently the manager at an Olive Garden restaurant. Andrea, originally from Cypress, is a graduate of the Champion School of Real Estate and a production specialist at the court-reporting firm Liberty Litigation Support. The couple currently resides in Cypress.
The two first met in April of 2019 at JR’s Bar & Grill in Montrose. “Samantha’s cousin Matthew (who is Andrea’s best friend) introduced us at a RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party,” Andrea says.
The two actually proposed to one another on the same day, and were married just six months later. Samantha had planned what Andrea thought was just a family photo shoot. There was a photographer there, but the intimate gathering also included a violinist, a vocalist, as well as immediate family and some close friends. Andrea, of course, said yes to Samantha’s proposal.
“The room was beautifully decorated, and I remember saying, ‘No you’re not. No you’re not!’ I was so surprised, and in that moment, that was all I could say,” Andrea recalls.
Andrea then left the room under the guise of getting a tissue to dry her happy tears. “I ran to the other room, grabbed the ring from my purse, and ran back. I got down on one knee and asked Samantha to marry me,” Andrea says. And to make things even sweeter, Samantha also asked Andrea’s children, Ellyana and Jazmin, if they could all be a family. She gave each of them a bow necklace to signify that they were all “tying the knot.”
After taking several pictures and sharing a toast, the group enjoyed dinner and cake together at Houston’s Downtown Aquarium, where more friends joined them to celebrate. “To this day, we still giggle and say how mind-blowing and beautiful it was to surprise each other with our proposals,” Samantha says.
Their big day was January 15, 2021. “We decided on the 15th, as that is the date of the month that we decided to begin our journey as a couple,” Samantha says. “Our reception and ceremony took place at Sterling Banquet Hall on the northwest side of Houston, not far from where we live. Our wedding was officiated by Bryan Rodriguez, a very special friend of ours who was also present at our surprise double proposal.”
The couple worked with several LGBTQ-friendly vendors, as it was important to them to have the support and understanding of everyone who was present on their special day.
Andrea recalls one of the most incredible moments of the ceremony during the exchange of vows. “After Samantha read her vows to me, she asked for our daughters to come to the front. She read and made vows to them, officially declaring them her daughters and [telling them she was now] their ‘Bonus Momma.’ There was not a dry eye in the room—many, many, tears were shed in that moment.”
Stephanie explains the four traditional wedding customs they included in their ceremony. “The sand ceremony, representing the blending of our new family; the lasso, representing [our union being blessed] by God; the arras, which is the gift of 13 coins to represent a promise of prosperity in our marriage, as well as a commitment to share the responsibility of household finances and protect each other’s wealth; and a Bible, to keep God first—always!”
For their honeymoon, the couple headed to Breckenridge, Colorado. “It was important for us to pick a place where neither one of us had traveled to before, so that we could experience it together as ‘Mrs. & Mrs.’ We enjoyed sledding, a horse-drawn sleigh ride, snowshoeing, and even a little hiking. And we found the Breckenridge Troll, Isak Heartstone!” Stephanie says.
“Andrea has a heart of gold, and is the best friend I could have ever asked for. Clay Walker said it best: ‘She can charm a star and hypnotize the moon,’” Stephanie says. And Andrea adds that Samantha is “absolutely beautiful, inside and out. She definitely keeps the kid in me alive, She is the calm in my storm.”
Although marriages are never graced with perfect skies every day, it’s easy to imagine a life filled with many blue skies for a loving couple like this.
This article appears in the April 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.