Fernanda and Jair

Image 4 of Fernanda and Jair

How We Met

Although we didn’t meet at school, Jair and I are college sweethearts and have now been together for ten years. We met while working one of our college jobs at a local department store and became friends very quickly. He worked in the jewelry department on the first floor, while I worked at the women’s department on the second floor. The registers that we were assigned to were right off the escalators that connected both floors. When we worked painfully slow closing shifts together, we would send written notes up and down the escalator for fun. He still keeps one of my notes in his wallet. We started hanging out after work, at school and in between classes. Three months later he asked me out on November 18, 2011 and the rest is history! We’ve grown together, got our first jobs together, and then traveled for a while before moving to New York City, which we’ve called home for the past four years.

How They Asked

Jair and I never felt any pressure to get married. Although the more years we had been together, the more surprised people would be that we weren’t. We slowly started warming up to the idea a year or so ago, but I had no clue when he might propose. Still, no pressure.

We are both very passionate about traveling and tend to take at least one big international trip a year. After almost two years of being in the pandemic and keeping our travels between home in California and around the New York City area, we were in need of a real vacation. We really wanted to go to Europe, and go back to a few of the cities we love – London, Paris and Rome. Particularly because my parents were tagging along and we wanted to show them some of our favorite places. We started in London and then traveled to Paris and all seemed like a normal trip. Except that one morning while we were getting ready, Jair told me that my parents were not going to spend the day with us and that he had arranged for them to go on a walking tour of the city. He also said that he wanted to go on a picnic, which was rather strange given it was the middle of November, but I just went with it.

Image 1 of Fernanda and Jair

We had a pretty relaxing morning walking around the neighborhood and stopped by a cute bakery to have coffee and quiche. We then spent some time buying our picnic supplies. We bought a blanket and a very cliché assortment of French bites, including pastries, cheese, a baguette and wine. He even bought me a dozen pink roses. We then started to make our way to the picnic location, which still remained a mystery to me. But again, I had decided to just go with the flow. We hopped on the metro and got off after a few stations, walking for about five minutes along a beautiful Parisian avenue that I didn’t recognize. There was still no sign of a park to have the picnic that I was promised.

As we walked in front of an apartment building, a very friendly woman stopped to greet us, and Jair seemed to know her! At this point I was very confused, because how could he possibly run into anyone in Paris? She told me that Jair had arranged a surprise rooftop tour, and that she was going to take some pictures of us – she was a photographer! We had previously been on a rooftop tour in St. Petersburg and we loved it. You can’t beat those views! She let us in the building behind us, and guided us to a tiny elevator that took us all the way up to the last floor. She then pulled out a wooden ladder from behind a wall to let us up onto the roof. As soon as I peeked my head out I caught a glimpse of the beautiful views. We had the Eiffel Tower to our left and Notre Dame to our right, it was an unbelievable scene.

Image 2 of Fernanda and Jair

Our very nice new friend helped us set up our picnic and started to take some pretty incredible photos. First with our picnic setup and then at different locations throughout the rooftop. She saved the background with the Eiffel Tower for last, and as she was clicking away Jair got on one knee to pop the question! He recited a very sweet speech that was meant to be much longer. I could tell that he was quite nervous, but still heard the rest later that night. We popped champagne, cheered and took some more photos. It was the best proposal I could’ve asked for. We then met my parents for dinner where we drank even more champagne and had a delicious French meal.

This all happened a few days before November 18, so we celebrated our 10th anniversary in Rome as a newly engaged couple.

Image 3 of Fernanda and Jair

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Special Thanks

Carina Leitao
 | Photographer