In a celebration of romance and commitment, recently engaged couple Catriona Gray and Sam Milby share their intimate love story founded on the clarity of their individuality while also recognizing the power of strength in togetherness
Love happens unexpectedly. In one fluttering moment, love meets you at your best friend’s wedding or at a high school reunion with shared drinks and stories. But sometimes, love begins with a simple hello, a connection that builds on the foundation of friendship. Catriona Gray and Sam Milby never intended to start a relationship, but love touched by faith strengthened their bond.
It just happens
The celebrated couple first met at an event in 2012, but like any other acquaintances in the industry, all they had was a photo together, and nothing else followed. Years later, they ended up in the same church group, where friendship found them.
“I think sometimes you go through this checklist of what you want in a person, and then you end up with the person that you don’t expect. It happens. You get along, and you follow up,” shared Sam on the unexpected blossoming of his relationship with Catriona. However, the beauty queen had high walls around her after she won Miss Universe 2018, but Sam was persistent in a good way.
This is what love is
The idea of falling in love may have been that “happily ever after” Catriona had seen in Disney movies when she was young. But growing up, her idea of love changed.
“I realized that love is really hard work. I think when you’re young and you see [love] in movies, you [get the urge to] find the perfect person, fall in love, and [have your partner] complete you. But in growing up and maturing, I’ve realized that no one should complete you,” Catriona said.
For the purposeful queen and actor-musician, they fall for a bit, and then they land. They weren’t each other’s “other halves”, but simply two people who shared the same ground. While they valued their individuality, some unique qualities drew them both to each other.
“She sings about everything,” Sam said, looking at Catriona with a knowing smile. “She’ll make her own songs and even has songs for our puppies.”
Catriona, giggling at the observation, tried to get back at him playfully: “Something quirky about Sam is how animated he is, especially when he gets on a topic he’s interested in. From motorcycles to [anything under the sun], he’ll sell you everything he loves.”
Figuring it out
The image of two people deeply in love with one another may seem like a perfect dream, but sadly, it’s never perfect. Sam affirms that,
In that sense, because perfection is hardly attainable, love is a lot of hard work with all of its challenges. “I have an expectation of words [of affirmation from Sam], especially when we’re away from each other, which happens quite often. Sam is not a wordy person, but I tried to communicate as much as possible,” Catriona explained.
The couple never had any big fights, but there were rough times when they got frustrated with each other. But at the end of the day, it was a problem that they had to recognize and resolve. “There can be times when I get a little overwhelmed by my emotions, and Cat doesn’t try to fight back. She calms down my emotions so we can talk about [the issue] the right way,” Sam said softly.
There would always be disagreements, but they were stronger together as a team.
It’s all about compromise, effort, and a little bit of sacrifice. Catriona further explained that, “I don’t think we would be as strong as we are today without all the pressures, challenges, and obstacles we have to figure out, stumble through, and break through in the past.”
My kind of queen and king
As a couple, Catriona and Sam understand that they’ve got each other’s back. There is always the understanding that they’re on equal footing as partners, like an unbreakable bond between queen and king, or the shared cuteness of a koala and panda, a term of endearment they have for each other. With high regard for each other’s stature and being proud of their work, the “koala” from Australia and the “panda” actor are undeniably each other’s “the one.”
“The moment that I realized [him to be the one is] when I always looked forward to talking to him every day. It wasn’t even to talk about something profound, [but] just to share what happened, something interesting, or even disappointing; he’s the first one I want to call. He felt like a safe space,” Catriona revealed.
For Sam, it was a different kind of good. “I knew she was the one when she was playing better. She was beating me like in Call of Duty,” the established actor jokingly shared as Catriona giggled. “I wouldn’t say there was a certain moment, but it’s just how she makes me feel so secure in our love like we’re in this together.”
It’s a yes
It had always been a yes for a lifetime of happiness for the couple. For someone who was once a hopeless romantic, it was a future with Sam that Catriona looked forward to. “Sam’s the only relationship I’ve ever been in that I started to think about and visualize marriage, like building a life with someone.”
So, naturally, marriage was in mind and Catriona sent her ring size to Sam. Luckily, Sam felt the same way and was more than happy to pop the question as she was the key to his lock, the pendant to his chain, and the love of his life.
After what could be the most emotion-packed moment in their lives, their love now takes shape in the form of rings—a symbol of promise. “I feel like if you’re going through problems and you’re not together, [rings are] that reminder. We made that promise: we will stick this out even though it’s a struggle,” Sam shared.
Love, like Tiffany and Co.’s diamonds, has many facets, reflecting the beauty of intimacy, passion, and commitment. Finding “the one” is a surprise, a feeling someone will circle back to when popped with the big question. This gift of companionship requires dedication for a chance at a future together, and through unwavering loyalty, one day, that future will begin with rings on each other’s fingers and sealed with a kiss.
In the Philippines, Tiffany & Co. is located at Unit 18B Ground Level of Greenbelt 3, Greenbelt Mall and at the ground floor of The Shoppes at Solaire Resort & Casino. For more information about the Love and Engagement Collection, visit the Tiffany & Co. website.
Photography JERICK SANCHEZ assisted by MARCUS FLORES and CARL GARRIDO
Art Direction EL PEREIRA
Styling TON LOA (Catriona) and JUSTIN ALIMAN assisted by PATRICK MERGANO (Sam)
Makeup MAY FRANCISCO assisted by FLORENCE VERGAR (Catriona) and AIMEE GREY (Sam)
Hair BRENT SALES
Sittings Editor MARC PAGDILAO and KRISTOFF SISON
Shoot Coordination TONI MENDOZA and MAE SICAT