Karissa and Cristian

How We Met

Told the way Cristian remembers it… The old saying goes you never find that special someone when you’re looking them, you find them when you least expect it. That’s a bunch of bologna. I was 100% looking for Karissa & I’m thankful every day that I found her. Why it took me so long when she lived LITERALLY across the street from the restaurant I own is beyond me, but better late than never. It started with a talk with my friend Cathy on a boat party. She asked what I look for in a woman. I gave her some classics: Smart, kind, beautiful, but more than anything, that elusive combination of serious ambition meets raucous goofiness. Cathy said she had “the perfect girl”, which most guys know usually means the worst girl. I wasn’t hopeful in the slightest. Unbeknownst to me, Cathy snapped a picture of me shirtless on a boat, & sent it to her mystery woman. I’ve since seen the picture. The way the sun & shadows hit me, I look like a huge black guy. Tricked you Kari! And so Kari & I were set up on a “blind date”, a group hangout at Horny Goat Brewery for the 1st Packer game of 2014, vs the Seahawks. I member just how close I came to wimping out. Like I said, I wasn’t hopeful AT ALL. I’d never been on a blind date! I’d come to find later that Karissa was also on the verge of bailing. Two peas in a pod already. I still member exactly what I wore that day. I member walking in & seeing my friends & trying to play it cool. I member seeing Karissa. She was wearing a green maxi dress. I’m not a fan of maxi dresses at all, & yet I still thought she looked so beautiful. I member how much she was sweating (it was a lot). We started talking & while it was a little weird at first because all our friends were watching us (thanks guys), it quickly faded as we hit it off instantly. We were naturally inseparable that night as I regaled her with tall tales & she charmed me with her nervous sweating. At the end of the night I invited her upstairs WITH COMPLETELY GENTLEMAN intentions, just to impress her with a tour of what would eventually become our home together. I told her earnestly that no matter what, romantic intentions or otherwise, we should stay in touch because I found her to be truly a special person, a gem in Milwaukee. THE DATE: 1 week later free tickets to a Black Keys concert fell into my lap 2 hours before the show. I practiced a few cool lines in my head & gave Kari a call asking her if she was up for an adventure, a last minute leap of faith with a relative stranger. She was in pjs at the time but pretended like she wasn’t, because every lady loves a 1 hour window to get ready on short notice. Besides being a great all around date, she REALLY impressed me at the concert when she could sing along to more songs than me. I was in awe, good musical taste is an exceptional quality in a woman. We danced, we held hands for the 1st time (still member the street where it happened). We left in high spirits & in search of more. First, a cocktail bar where we played a game that came to define our foundation. I liked her, she seemed to like me. Neither of us were kids anymore & we didn’t have time for games, plus she already proved she was brave. So, I said let’s go back & forth sharing the WORST, deepest, darkest, most shameful, embarrassing secrets we can think of. The stuff you would NEVER share on a 1st date. If at the end of the game, when we knew all each others’ baggage & worst moments, if we were still interested, we’d know this might be something special. I told her I was kicked out of college. She told me she was once handcuffed & had an…accident in the back of the cop car. I told her I’d been a liar & a cheater. She told me her ex-boyfriend horror stories. Back & forth, things escalated quickly. The juicy details aren’t wedding website appropriate but there were some WILD stories. You member being a kid. After all the dirt was spilled, we still felt the same about each other, maybe even better somehow! This relationship was founded on a level of trust & honesty like I’ve never known because of that. Next thing I knew 90’s gangsta rap was playing, she rapped it word for word & that was the last straw for me. We shared our first kiss when I walked her home & we never looked back. The rest was history

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& they all lived happily ever-after. The End.

How He Asked

I proposed to Karissa, in an art gallery in Milwaukee, celebrating on the rooftop. We’re getting married, in a gallery in Chicago, celebrating on the rooftop. See what we did there. ? Truly, the story of our engagement began about 1 year before the engagement, at Kari’s surprise 30th birthday on ANOTHER rooftop… July 8th 2015. 50 friends & an unforgettable night of dinner, fireworks & dancing till sunrise. Kari’s present was a ticket to Austin, a place we’d both always wanted to visit. She cried like 5 times, & I told her I should have proposed that night, because I’d never top that surprise. (I was wrong). The Austin trip fell on our 1 yr anniversary. That city is loaded with amazing street art, so I mapped out mural locales & we began a 2-day visual conquering of Austin via bike. By day 2 my improptu tour had a very “He’s gonna propose” vibe, between countless murals like “Til Death Do Us Part” & the very subtle “Will You Marry Me?” graffiti. I said to Kari “Just so you know, I’m NOT proposing. This is all a coincidence.” We laughed about it together, & while she may have forgotten that joke I never did. My painting proposal idea was born in that moment. Preparation began nearly a year later, before our 2 yr anniversary. I secured a space at The Pitch Project Gallery, invited friends & family & began painting. Screaming Tuna was my studio. I got in early & stayed late every day. I told Karissa I was just drowning in work, really I was drowning in paint. The big day drew near & I was running out of time. The day of I was an ABSOLUTE WRECK, sleep deprived & stressed racing against the clock. Because I’m a spaz Kari knew something was wrong with me but I pressed on. When I wasn’t painting that day I was setting up the gallery with DJ equipment, food & libations. Kari THOUGHT we were going to our friends’ Exhibition that night. We arrived at the Pitch Project after a comedy show with my parents. 75 guests were TRYING to play it cool, blend in. When Kari saw friends from out of town & especially her family, she stopped cold..what..was going on.. The entire place froze. In the background the most beautiful song I know played. We led her to her 9 paintings, all exact recreations of Austin murals. They read: “(kari) You’re my butter half. I love you so much. (&) All you knit is love. I love you in a space where there is no place or time. (let’s) Live a great story. Till death do us part” The “Will You Marry Me?” canvas was blank because I ran out of time. So I got on one knee & painted it live. It looked like a 4 yr old made it. She cried, a lot, & said yes. We all celebrated there together & it was the single most beautiful moment in my life.

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Our Video

180 days ago I proposed to Karissa, in an art gallery in Milwaukee, celebrating on the rooftop. And in 180 days we're getting married, in a gallery in Chicago, celebrating on the rooftop. See what we did there. 😉For those that don't know, the story of our engagement began about 1 year before at Kari's surprise 30th birthday on ANOTHER rooftop...July 8th 2015. 50 friends & an unforgettable night of dinner, fireworks & dancing till sunrise. Kari’s present was a ticket to Austin, a place we'd both always wanted to visit. She cried like 5 times, & I told her I should have proposed that night, because I’d never top that surprise. (I was wrong). The Austin trip fell on our 1 yr anniversary. That city is loaded with amazing street art, so I mapped out mural locales & we began a 2-day visual conquering of Austin via bike.By day 2 my improptu tour had a very "He's gonna propose" vibe, between countless murals like "Til Death Do Us Part" & the very subtle "Will You Marry Me?" graffiti. I said to Kari "Just so you know, I’m NOT proposing. This is all a coincidence." We laughed about it together, & while she may have forgotten that joke I never did. My painting proposal idea was born in that moment.Preparation began nearly a year later, before our 2 yr anniversary. I secured a space at The Pitch Project Gallery, invited friends & family & began painting. Screaming Tuna was my studio. I got in early & stayed late every day. I told Karissa I was just drowning in work, really I was drowning in paint.The big day drew near & I was running out of time. The day of I was an ABSOLUTE WRECK, sleep deprived & stressed racing against the clock. Because I'm a spaz Kari knew something was wrong with me but I pressed on. When I wasn’t painting that day I was setting up the gallery with DJ equipment, food & libations. Kari THOUGHT we were going to our friends’ Exhibition that night.We arrived at the Pitch Project after a comedy show with my parents. 75 guests were TRYING to play it cool, blend in. When Kari saw friends from out of town & especially her family, she stopped cold..what..was going on.. The entire place froze. In the background the most beautiful song I know played. We led her to her 9 paintings, all exact recreations of Austin murals. They read:“(kari) You’re my butter half. I love you so much. (&) All you knit is love. I love you in a space where there is no place or time. (let’s) Live a great story. Till death do us part”The “Will You Marry Me?” canvas was blank because I ran out of time. So I got on one knee & painted it live. It looked like a 4 yr old made it. She cried, a lot, & said yes. We all celebrated there together & it was the single most beautiful moment in my life. Thank you again to everyone for being by our side. I can't wait to marry Karissa, every day I wake up I'm excited for it. And in exactly 6 months, our 3 year anniversary, I get to try to give her & our guests nothing short of a night they will remember forever.

Posted by Cristian Vega on Friday, March 3, 2017

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