Valentine’s Day stories: Southwest couples share how they met

Robin and Jimmy Slonina

Although Robin and Jimmy Slonina were both born in Chicago and were involved in the arts scene there, they didn’t meet until they were in Las Vegas. A mutual friend from Chicago contacted Jimmy and asked him if he could get Robin and her mother tickets to see Le Reve, which he was performing in.

On that night, the lead character of the show was out with an injury, so Jimmy played the role. It was Robin’s first time seeing him after hearing rave reviews from her friend who was trying to hook them up.

“I saw him was onstage at Le Reve and it’s a water show, so he was wearing these red shorts that were all wet so I could really see his butt,” she said. “That was my first impression. I was like, ‘Ooh, he’s really talented and he’s got a nice ass.’”

After the show, Robin and her mother met up with Jimmy and his friend (the injured lead character, Wayne Wilson) to get cocktails at the hotel.

“I got to get the meeting the mom out of the way right away,” Jimmy joked.

Afterward, Robin and Jimmy went dancing at a club, then went to the Peppermill for breakfast at dawn.

The following day, Jimmy invited Robin and her mother to a show. Within a few weeks they were inseparable, and Robin decided to stay in Las Vegas after Jimmy invited her to paint a mural in his kitchen.

“I really felt the potential of the relationship right away,” Robin said. “I would say about three weeks in was when I was surprised at my own feelings and how strong they were.”

Robin, 45, is the owner and creative director of Skin City Body painting and a producer and judge on the GSN body-art television series Skin Wars. Jimmy, an entertainer, plays a clown in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere show. He also toured with pop singer Pink.

While they were dating, the couple went to Chicago after Jimmy’s father passed away to clean out his family’s home and to move his mother into a nursing home.

“The day was very unglamorous because we were up to our elbows cleaning a dirty house,” Robin said.

After picking up a pizza at his favorite pizzeria, Palermo’s, Jimmy brought her to Marquette Park in southwest Chicago for a picnic.

“All of a sudden there’s, like, a violin player, and he’s on one knee, so it was pretty shocking,” Robin said.

Jimmy proposed to her and gave her a vintage ring with a ruby.

The couple had what they called a “fun, low-stress wedding” in September 2007 at Tule Springs. The circus-themed wedding featured a bounce house, barbecue food, a snake charmer and a child in a lion costume who passed out popcorn.

“It was half wedding, half show,” Robin joked.

The couple have a 7-year-old son, Leo, and will mark a decade of marriage in September. They said they plan to renew their vows at the weirdest Las Vegas chapel they can find.

Amanda and Joel Zela

Joel and Amanda Zela could have met on several occasions, going back to middle school.

When they were younger, they lived a couple of miles from each other in Green Valley and attended the same recreation center. Amanda’s mother was Joel’s bus driver when he was in middle school. They went to different schools.

And they had the same tattoo artist, whose girlfriend worked at the salon where Amanda was an assistant hairstylist.

When Joel started going to the salon about five years ago, the two finally met. Amanda’s friend would cut his hair, and Amanda shampooed it.

“I would try to talk to him,” Amanda said. “I always thought he was attractive, and then he just wasn’t picking up on anything.” She has been a hairstylist for six years and works at Glo Salon in the Summerlin area now.

Amanda, 26, said she used to get dressed up and drive to work on her off days so she could shampoo his blond locks, but he didn’t notice until their tattoo artist told him about her interest.

“I’m oblivious to everything,” said Joel, 32. “I never even really talked to my stylist that much, so when my tattoo artist told me one day, he was like, ‘Yeah, bonehead.’ Then it clicked.”

“She was really friendly, and I thought she was attractive,” he added. Joel, who often goes by the name Shake, owns hip-hop website

“So attractive that the first time I ever saw him, he started following me on Instagram like the second he walked out the door,” Amanda joked. “Thank God for social media, sometimes.”

Once Joel got the hint, he asked Amanda on a date. He recalls her being nervous.

“She barely ate anything at all,” he said. “Now when we go to sushi and it’s all you can eat, the table is flooded with rolls. So I always think back to that. I could see her inner self just screaming.”

Although Amanda was excited that Joel finally noticed her and they went on a few dates, Joel had to work to keep her attention.

“Courting her was different,” he said. “Just trying to get established as a couple, oh boy …”

However, their relationship grew quickly over the next six months, which surprised them both.

“It was really instant, actually, when we just started being around each other,” Joel said.

They don’t claim an official day that they started dating. Amanda moved in after he bought her a dresser because she stayed at his house often. And she met his mother at a Super Bowl party before he was able to introduce her to his family.

However, Joel made sure to plan out his proposal to meet Amanda’s standards on Christmas Eve of 2015.

Dogs are important in their family, so Joel included their pitbull boxer, Champion; a Yorkie, Bear; a Shih Tzu, Fiona; and a Chinese crested dog, Tsuki, in the proposal. Each wore heart-shaped dog tag featuring a single word; together, they read, “Will You Marry Me?”

When Amanda had arrived home from getting a tattoo, she’d known something was up because the dogs weren’t barking.

Their wedding was as nontraditional as their relationship, according to the couple. The special day was Dec. 10, 2016. After getting fed up with the stress of wedding planning, they decided to marry in Joel’s grandparents’ backyard.

After they were announced husband and wife, the DJ played the instrumental version of “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)” by UGK (Underground Kings).

“Which is just so perfect,” Amanda said. “It was just like a house party. Someone was just getting married at it.”

This is their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. They plan to have children soon.

“I think we’ll be very happy, like we are now, even when we’re old,” Amanda said, adding, “We try to make the most of life and just enjoy it.”

To reach View intern reporter Kailyn Brown, call 702-387-5233 or email Follow her on Twitter:@KailynHype.

Local Videos
Library director talks about library as community center
Ron Heezen discusses his hopes for the new East Las Vegas Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Property Brothers visit Michael’s in Las Vegas Valley
Twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott are the hosts of Property Brothers, the hit HGTV show where they help couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes. In 2018, the brothers collaborated with Michael's on their first custom framing program. Today they're releasing new frames into that collection that range from natural to bright looking. Jonathan and Drew discuss their brand and why frames was something they wanted to pursue. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 traffic jam
A semitrailer stopped in the middle of Interstate 15 near Charleston Boulevard has slowed traffic in central Las Vegas Wednesday morning, April 17, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rainy Tuesday
The Las Vegas Valley saw cooler temperatures and rain Tuesday afternoon. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Tiger Woods Bettor Collects
James Adducci bet $85k on Tiger Woods to win the Masters. He collected his $1.19M from William Hill sports bet in the SLS today. (Mat Luschek /Review-Journal)
Endangered frogs released at Springs Preserve
Dozens of endangered Relic Leopard Frogs were released at the Cotton Grove inside Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Vintage World War II aircraft arrive at Henderson Executive Airport
The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour comes to Henderson Executive Airport with a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, P-51 Mustang and a P-40 Warhawk. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring Pearl Harbor veteran
Ed Hall, a Pearl Harbor veteran in Las Vegas, is honored with Quilt of Valor during an event in a Las Vegas. (Erik Verduzo/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Anthropology professors excavate Maya ruin site of Caracol, Belize for 36 years
The husband-and-wife team of UNLV anthropologists has spent several months a year at the remote site of Caracol in the jungles of Belize, excavating ruins and uncovering secrets from the region’s once-dominant civilization. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Things to remember when adopting a rabbit this Easter season
As Easter and spring time approach, some people may be tempted to adopt a rabbit for the holiday. But like adopting any animal, it is important to be responsible and know what a rabbit requires to be a happy, healthy pet. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bike Giveaway in Las Vegas - Piero’s Italian Cuisine
Evan Glusman of Piero’s Italian Cuisine hosted a party in the restaurant’s parking lot to distribute over 150 bikes to local kids. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Charleston/I-15 ramp configuration
The new Interstate 15/ Charleston Boulevard ramp configuration was unveiled Tuesday morning. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Northwest Vegas farm's abandoned pig problem
Someone abandoned a several hundred pound pig at Sharon Linsenbardt's farm. Her farm is a rescue for animals, but she doesn't have room or resources to take on another such creature, so she's asking the community for help. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Chalk Talk: Black Student Union
Students talk about the Black Student Union in the latest episode of Chalk Talk. (Angus Kelly and Amelia Pak-Harvey/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Individuals with Parkinson's participate in dance class
Pamela Lappen leads a dance class for individuals with Parkinson's Disease at the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Review-Journal
Animal Foundation Preps Pups For Best In Show
The Las Vegas Animal Foundation is preparing its prime pups for their 16th annual Best in Show event, which takes place at the end of April. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Dog Yoga At Hydrant Club
The Hydrant Club in downtown Las Vegas, is a social club for dogs and their people. Recently the club started hosting dog yoga. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Butterflies At The Springs Preserve
The butterfly habitat is now open at the Springs Preserve. Learn about butterflies and take in the peaceful surroundings. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Conservatory's spring display has a Japanese theme
The Bellagio's conservatory is hosting around 65,000 flowers, to form a Japanese theme this spring. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs closes (Caroline Brehman/Kimber Laux)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas officially closed its gates Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring a fallen North Las Vegas Police officer at his namesake school
The 20th Annual Raul P. Elizondo Honor Day celebrates the fallen North Las Vegas Police officer's legacy at his namesake school. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Windy day in Las Vegas Valley
The Review-Journal's camera on the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium the was buffered by high winds on Wednesday, March 14, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
March gloom falls on Las Vegas
After a rainy overnight, gloomy skies hover over Las Vegas Tuesday morning. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
John Katsilometes gets his head shaved at St. Baldrick's
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes gets his head shaved by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman during St. Baldrick's Foundation shave-a-thon on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York in Las Vegas Friday, March 8, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Blue Angels take flight over Las Vegas Strip
The Blue Angels’ U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flew their signature Delta formation over a part of the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and east Las Vegas and were scheduled to fly over Hoover Dam. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Gross World Records
A group of about 20 children gathered around a TV at Sahara West Library on Feb. 27 for a history lesson on the most disgusting world records.
Graduation for Renewing HOPE program
The Renewing HOPE program graduation for homeless who spend nine months in Catholic Charities program. Graduates are preparing to enter the workforce. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Car crashes into Starbucks near Las Vegas Strip
Lt. William Matchko of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gives details about a car crashing into a Starbucks at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, near the Las Vegas Strip, on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car crashed into PT’s Gold
A 60-year-old man who police believe was impaired drove into a PT’s Gold at Silverado Ranch and Decatur boulevards Thursday night, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. William Matchko said. The driver was hospitalized and is expected to survive. A man inside the bar was hit by debris but drove himself to the hospital, Matchko said. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (part 1)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life Videos
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Home Front Page Footer Listing