Ashley and Juan
How We Met
September 2012. It was the beginning of our junior year and I was eating lunch with my good friend in the Busch Dining Hall at Rutgers University when he got a call. Juan had just transferred to Rutgers and wanted to grab lunch with a familiar face, so he joined us. We formally met and the three of us chatted about our summers before heading back to our respective apartments. Who would have guessed that Juan and I, being of different engineering majors, would end up being in the same class? We started studying together and became fast friends. He would visit me while I was working at the Rutgers Computer Labs to bring me food when I was starving and to ‘study’, but we would end up laughing and talking my entire shift. We became inseparable, and everyone noticed – but we insisted we were just friends.
Fast forward to the Spring Semester of 2014. My fraternity’s formal was right around the corner and I knew I wanted Juan to be my date. I tried to win him over by giving him a brownie on a plate with “Formal?” written on the plate underneath the brownie… He ate the brownie and threw out the plate! After that, I knew I needed to take a more obvious approach. I took a Push-Pop from the dining hall and wrote on the flap “Formal?”. His reply? “I have Steel Bridge” ….. My heart was crushed! I thought I had waited too long to show him how I feel and I might have just lost him for good. My fraternity formal (April 26th) was spent texting him telling him how much I wish he was there. I stayed up that night thinking I didn’t want to go through another event or big life moment without him. The next day, I had a group of friends over my apartment and I took the plunge and kissed him! The rest is history.
How He Asked
Juan had texted me on Wednesday that his boss was raving about dinner at the Liberty House in Jersey City and he wanted to take me there on Saturday, July 15th. We were supposed to go there for dinner in April for our anniversary, but Juan got sick and we had to cancel. He said he wanted to make it up to me and we were busy the next couple of weekends so I said why not! On Saturday, we went about our day normally – we slept in late, went for a run, grabbed a bite to eat, and he even ended up taking is normal mid-Saturday nap. (Little did I know it was from the nerves!) We got dressed up and headed off to Jersey City. I decided to drive to the restaurant and Juan was on his phone the whole way there.
We got to the restaurant and we noticed there was a wedding happening. We went to the reservation desk and let them know we had a reservation for two and the kind lady had asked if we wanted to walk around our gardens before dinner. I was hesitant because we were already two minutes late, but she insisted it was fine. We walk out into the garden and we see the bridal party hanging out on the patio. The view is absolutely stunning. You can see the entire New York City skyline up close and personal with the Freedom Tower glistening in the center. We walk down the stairs to an area where they have life-size Chess and I jokingly ask Juan if he wants to play (The only time we’ve ever played life-size Chess, I beat him in under 5 minutes). He says maybe later and walks me up to this platform.
The platform is decorated with candles and rose petals in the shape of a heart. “This is so cute! Do you think this is for the wedding or they do it every weekend?” I said naively. Juan says it’s probably for the wedding, knowing very well he had the whole thing planned. We are on the platform and in my normal element, I ask if he wants to eat inside or out. I’m sure at this point he was probably wondering why I always think about food! Then he grabbed my hand and told me the last 4 years have been some of the best and he can’t wait for another 50. I said I can’t wait for another 100. Then he got down on one knee and proposed! I was so surprised. It was my dream come true. I said yes and we kissed and all of the diners and the bridal party were cheering us on. They even shouted to see the ring! Juan told me to smile at the camera and I look and see that his good friend Brandon is standing behind a tripod waving. That’s when it really hit me that the rose petals, the candles, the dinner – it was all for me!
I was so overwhelmed with joy. Brandon was at the restaurant for an hour waiting for our arrival so he could lay the petals and light the candles. We are so grateful that he took the time to make sure our day was special, and he captured such beautiful photos that really showcase how joyful the moment was. I mean come on, he brought a cooler so the rose petals would stay alive – how cute is that?!
My best girl friends Emily and Brianne surprised us with a bottle of champagne during our dinner. The funniest part was when the waiter brought it out he said, “This is a congratulations gift from Emilio and Bernie”. Juan and I both looked puzzled and said he must have the wrong table until the waiter showed us the piece of paper! After dinner, we went back to my house where my family and his family were waiting to surprise us. I was so filled with love and joy I couldn’t help but cry. It was an absolutely perfect day and I know our wedding day will be just as amazing!