Cessie and Manuel

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How We Met

Manny and I met while I was traveling to Miami. Miami was home for him (as it was for me), but 6 months earlier I had taken the plunge to move to NYC to follow my dream of living here. I was traveling to Miami because my grandfather passed away on May 29th and I had to fly in for his funeral. I ended up staying in Miami the whole week because the following week was my good friend’s wedding (also in Miami) and I was a bridesmaid.

Manny and I met at the rehearsal on Thursday, June 4th, 2015. I am known for being perpetually late. Everywhere I go, I’m always late. Of course, the day of the rehearsal was no different. I was running late and I could not find my keys. Frustrated I called an Uber and headed to the church. As I arrived at the church rehearsal the ceremony had already started so I quietly walked in and sat with the rest of the bridesmaids. At that point, I had no idea who I was even walking with. While I was sitting with the bridesmaids one of my friends pointed Manny out to me as being a good looking guy that perhaps was single. I rolled my eyes and brushed it off assuming he probably had a girlfriend, was married or was what we girls in Miami call “a typical Miami guy” which I wanted nothing to do with.

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Once the ceremony was over, all the bridesmaids prompted to walk back to the aisle and meet their partner to walk out. At that point, I still had no idea who I was walking with. I stepped into the aisle and looked up and there was Manny. He smiled, shook my hand, introduced himself and told me he would be walking me down the aisle. No pun intended-he really was walking me down the aisle as he was my designated partner. We proceeded to the rehearsal dinner and the bride had assigned seating. I found it strange that I was assigned to sit at the table with the bride and the groom, but mainly was all the groom’s friends. Meanwhile, all my girlfriends and bridesmaids were sitting at another table. It made no sense, but I went with the flow.

Manny ended up sitting next to me, and while I thought he was very good-looking, he appeared to have no interest given that there was a big basketball game on TV and his eyes were glued to that. As the night progressed (and the drinks flowed) we hit it off. The rest is history. We did long distance for six months until he later he moved to New York City (January 2016) and we have been together for 3 years now. The story is special to my heart because right before my grandfather passed away he was so eager for me to settle down. A girl in her 30’s, who is not married, chasing a crazy dream in NYC does not sit well with Cuban families.

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He always stressed how important it was for him, to see me with a good man. And I often told him I would not settle down for the sake of settling down until I found someone that was truly worthy. In fact, I was really enjoying being alone and was in no rush to jump into anything. I told him I would marry someone when I found a guy just like him- a hard worker, who put his family first, was selfless, loving, and a true gentleman (my grandparents were married for 61 years when he passed). I used to joke with him and say “send me one like you”- and he joked back that men like him rarely existed anymore.

My grandfather passed away on a Friday, May 29th, 2015. I met my Manny the following Thursday, June 4th. Manny’s last name is Cabrera (same as my grandfather who was Reemberto Cabrera)-when we get married I will have the same last name as my grandfather (my mother’s maiden name) and I think it’s his way, of making sure I know he had something to do with this. My grandma jokes that my grandfather sent him to me. I like to believe that’s somehow true. Who knows, but it is a beautiful story and telling it still gives me goosebumps.

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how they asked

A few months ago Manny told me his sister (who is also a professional photographer based in Miami) was coming to NYC for a photoshoot and would be staying with us. He said he wanted to take advantage of her being here so we could take some new headshots of us. I found that strange because Manny hates taking pictures, but I went along with it, though I sensed something wasn’t right since he was so insistent on getting dressed up and taking these pictures. So we headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park to take pictures of the NYC skyline as the backdrop. As we were posing for pictures, Manny dropped to his knees (visibly nervous) and asked me to marry him. I could not stop cracking up, I legit had a laugh attack because I knew it all along (in fact I made sure to get a manicure and touch up my roots the day before, just in case), and I also could not stop laughing because of how nervous I was. People started clapping & cheering and at the moment I realized I had not said yes until someone yelled: “Are you going to say yes”?!

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I, of course, said yes and of course, the whole thing was a lie. His sister did not have a photo shoot, she had come up, specifically to document this moment and the weekend turned into our engagement shoot. For the next two days, we went all over the city taking pictures at our favorite spots: Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, Grand Central Station, West Village, our favorite neighborhood taco spot, La Esquina and of course, our nearby dog park, with our puppy who we are obsessed with, Drizzy!

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What makes this even more special is that it turns out Manny had asked my dad and my brother back in March during our last visit to Miami (this meant the world to me). My whole family was in on it!

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My grandfather was a jeweler in Miami for over 25 years and had a storefront until he was forced to shut it down as he got older and his health suffered. Manny purchased the diamond and the setting from the same diamond wholesaler in Miami that my grandfather used to work with and the gentleman remembered me and couldn’t stop reminiscing about how I used to spend my summers at my grandfather’s office, running up and down the jewelry store when I was a little girl. The fact that he somehow still incorporated my grandfather into the process, made me so happy.

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Special Thanks

Yania Perez
 | Photographer