Denisse and Emmanuel
How We Met
I like to start the story by saying that the first time I was INTRODUCED to Eman is different from the first time I SPOKE with Eman, which is also different from the first time I SAW him.
In May of 2010, I graduated from nursing school at UNLV, and the program had a “Pinning Ceremony” specifically for nursing graduates. At the pinning ceremony, we were called up on stage individually and given a sash and a pin to wear to the university’s commencement. On my way to my seat from the stage, I looked towards the back of the ballroom, and made eye contact with a guy wearing a white v-neck t-shirt, black cargo shorts, and a pair of sunglasses. A little casual for the ceremony. My thought was, “Who is this asian guy here to see? I know all the asian people in our class, I don’t think he’s related to any of them.” I ended up going back to my seat, finishing the ceremony not knowing who he was and moved on to the next day.
At commencement, graduates decorated the tops of their caps to hopefully stand out to their family and friends watching in the stadium above them. I had the letters R N decorated with rhinestones. Some grads had quotes. Others had the Greek letters. But as I sat in my seat I saw about 3 to 4 rows ahead of me sat a cap with a large letter E on top, glitter, and Christmas lights. I thought it was the most clever idea for this person to put lights on their cap, and pointed it out to my friend sitting next to me. As we stood in line to get our names announced, I looked to the seats of the graduates who already had their turn. At the very end of the row was the “E” cap and its owner. I yelled to the guy, “Hey, you have a really cool cap.” And he yelled back, “Thank you! Congratulations.” After saying congrats back, I proceeded to walk on stage, get my name announced, and leave nursing school behind.
The following week was full of celebratory outings, and grad parties. At the final grad party of the week, my classmate Kelly arrived and decided that she wanted to invite her friend Eman. Apparently a few of our other classmates had met Eman previously, and were excited to have him come over, saying he’s a really cool guy. Later on, the guy with the white v-neck t-shirt from the pinning ceremony walked into the backyard, and introduced himself to the party as Emannuel, Eman for short. While various conversations were happening during the party, Kelly mentioned that Eman just graduated as well. He told the room that he graduated with a degree in Music Education.
Someone asked what he played, and he explained that he was a vocal major. So at that moment, he was handed a spoon off the kitchen counter and asked to sing. After serenading us with Dru Hill’s “April Showers”, he told everyone that he decorated his cap for commencement, pulled out a picture on his phone and passed it around. A cap with the large letter “E”, red glitter, and Christmas Lights. We ended up small-talking about cooking, our family, and became friends on Facebook.
It wasn’t until months later, after we both passed our licensure tests that our paths crossed again at our friend Andrea’s going away party. This time we weren’t walking away just Facebook friends. A team was formed. Team Denisse as named by Eman, with the mission to have group outings, specifically karaoke sessions with hopes of getting Eman and I together. And they worked. Several times the night would end, and our friends would say their goodbyes. But Eman and I would sit back. The karaoke place would close their doors, and Eman and I would sit in the parking lot talking til 5 in the morning. Finally, we decided to have an outing just the two of us, without the group. We decided to be each other’s somebody on the 21st night of Septemeber. Yes, just like the hit song by Earth, Wind, and Fire.
How He Asked
I would say our love story has a sound track. Music is a part of our lives. We started out with simple karaoke dates, where Eman made an attempt to serenade me. So I should have expected a musical proposal, but it all came by surprise.
My great-uncles have been in Las Vegas since the 70s playing with their band in different casino lounges. Eman and I, my family, and even our close friends have enjoyed a few nights out to a lounge to watch them perform. My sisters suggested a night out to Addisons Lounge at Rampart Casino to watch them play. I thought why not, I hadn’t seen them in a while, and didn’t have any other plans for the night. I asked Eman, and he wanted to join as well. So the plan was to watch them on August 6th, 2016.
It was a simple Saturday. Eman went to the gym in the early afternoon, as I was out to a friend’s bridal shower. We met up for a late lunch at our favorite Korean BBQ spot. And headed home to take a short nap before meeting my sisters at the lounge. Eman woke me up 30 minutes before having to meet my sisters. I looked at myself in the mirror, fluffed up the curls I had before my nap flattened them, and spritzed on some perfume. My sisters had sent me a text asking what I was going to wear, but I honestly did not feel like getting dressed up. So a simple black dress and sandals was it for me. I didn’t even want to put my contacts in.
In hindsight, I realize that during our drive to the casino, Eman seemed distracted. We took the long way there. He made a stop at the gas station for an energy drink, and a second stop at a music shop which turned out to be closed. But I was oblivious to all of this stalling.
We got to the casino, and walked hand in hand to the lounge. As I walked in I realized, that there were several people in attendance that I hadn’t expected to be there. Sprinkled among the patrons of the lounge, I saw Eman’s college classmates, my old coworkers, our main crew of friends, even my friend whose bridal shower I attended just hours before. And then I found my sisters, in the middle of the dance floor with their cameras pointed at me. I asked them what was going on. I asked our friends over and over again what was going on, and everyone refused to give an answer.
But the longer I stood there the more it became clear as to what was happening. Next to my sisters stood my mom, and I walked over to give her a hug. Just at that moment I caught a glimpse of Eman’s sister and cousins behind her. They all live in California, and their presence there stunned me. It hit me hard, I broke down and cried. At that point, I had no doubt as to what was happening. The lounge was filled with our friends and family. And finally Eman took the stage.
My uncle introduced Eman as a “new recruit” for their band, The Klique Show Band. And this was his audition. The band started playing Luther Vandross’s “Here and Now”, as I stood in the middle of the dance floor. And again, Eman sang to me. I was invited onto the stage half way through the first verse. We held hands as everyone watched, and let go of my hand as he fiddled for something in his pocket. Just as the chorus was about to begin, Eman got down on one knee and he sang, “Here and now, I promise to love faithfully.”
Out from his pocket, he pulled out a beautiful, solitaire diamond ring. He popped the ring on my finger and continued singing the song. As he sang, we danced, and hugged as our friends, family, and even strangers watched on. And finally at the end, I had the chance to say yes!
I couldn’t have imagined the proposal any other way. He has always been an entertainer. I make fun that he’s always enjoyed being a music educator because all the kids know him, and call out his name in the hallway as he walks past. He loves being “famous”. I always knew if he’d propose, he’d do it in a big way. And he did. He did it singing, did it in front of everyone, but most importantly did it with our family and friends, the people we love and cherish most.