In an indirect way, you could say that none other than Thomas Jefferson brought Sahar Batmanghelidj and Sam Miotke together.
Sahar, 28, is Iranian. Her father, a longtime admirer and student of Thomas Jefferson, fled his native country after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. After settling with his family in Northern Virginia, he made a point of bringing his family to Monticello every Independence Day to partake in the celebrations.
They were thrilled when Sahar eventually chose the University of Virginia for college.
Sam, also 28, grew up in Michigan. His mother was also a longtime admirer of the nation’s third president. It was she who first encouraged Sam, who is currently pursuing a medical degree at Georgetown University, to apply to UVA for college.
Sam and Sahar met their first year in the laundry room of their dorm. The first thing Sahar noticed about her future husband—aside from what she jokingly describes as his “boyish good looks”—was how abysmally he folded his clothes. “He just threw them in a pile,” the D.C.-based financial advisor recalls. “This bothered me.”
“She taught me to care about my clothes,” says Sam.
Pretty soon Sam was popping by Sahar’s dorm room to borrow her microwave, ostensibly. They began walking to and from class together…just as friends. Toward the end of freshman year during one of their friendly strolls to Sahar’s jazz history class, Sam reached for Sahar’s hand. They walked hand-in-hand in silence, each aware the moment marked a new beginning.
They fell in love. Four years went by. Then six. Then eight. They’d been together so long, Sahar’s father started calling Sam the “fiancé” even though they weren’t technically engaged.
But Sam was biding his time (and finishing up grad school in Oregon). He wanted a proposal to be perfect, so set about having a ring designed for Sahar—one that paid homage to her Iranian roots.
Sam’s grandmother gave him diamonds from one of her cherished rings, which he combined with stones given to him by Sahar’s mother. He then gave the stones to Sahar’s cousin to take back to Iran to have made into a ring.
But there was a glitch: Sahar’s cousin had difficulty returning to the States. Her travel plans were consistently postponed. “I thought I’d get the ring back in a month or two,” says Sam. “It ended up taking an entire year.”
By the time he had the ring in hand—nearly nine years after they started dating —he was so anxious to present it to Sahar, he ended up proposing to her…while she slept.
“I was taking a nap, and I could faintly hear Sam saying, ‘Sahar, Sahar, I think we should get married. Sahar!’” she says. “At first I was angry because I thought he was fooling around. But he held up this beautiful ring, and asked, ‘Well, well?’ I said, ‘of course!’”
The couple wed on July 11 in Keswick in a beautiful Persian ceremony that culminated with Sam and Sahar feeding each other honey. At one point during the ceremony, the bride was asked three times if she accepted the groom’s proposal, a Persian tradition meant to signify that it is the man who is anxious to marry, not the other way around.
Given Sam’s ring-making travails—not to mention their lengthy 10-year courtship—that part of the ceremony was decidedly apropos.