Jessica and James

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How We Met

James asked me to be his girlfriend in front of the vending machines in my Sophomore year of high school at Staten Island Technical High School. We had a crowd of excited friends around us who knew the moment was happening and were there to clap when he asked. It was the talk of the school that day. 😝

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We have been together for almost eleven years and got through four years of long-distance during college (him at Northwestern and me at Rutgers), months spent round the clock in the hospital after his brother was in a life-threatening accident (he is now our Best Man, thank God!) and everything in between. He is my partner, my safe place, and my absolute BEST FRIEND.

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How They Asked

James always plans the most intricate gifts for every birthday, anniversary, etc and my 25th birthday was no different. He brings his A-game. I am a huge fan of subscription boxes (it’s like a gift to yourself!) so he made my own “subscription box.” Each week for over TWO MONTHS he curated a box around a certain theme that led to a themed date night. One week was Mindfulness and the box had candles, guided meditations, and we went to a candlelight yoga class. Another was Spring and it had flower seeds, a dozen roses, and a trip to the botanical garden. I have to admit at the beginning of the dates, I thought every one was going to be the box he would use to propose.

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After all, it had been ten years! But after going on dozens of date nights, eventually I forgot about the proposal and just started enjoying the special time with my favorite person. In mid-May, I received a picnic basket for my “subscription box” that had all the fixings of a beautiful spring picnic, my favorite! He wrote up a formal invitation to a park on the Upper East Side, in the neighborhood where we are planning to move, for a “magical afternoon.” As we made our way there, we passed townhouses and dreamed of our future where we settle into the neighborhood.

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“This will be our coffee shop” and “that will be where our kids go to school” passed between us as we held hands. We walked along the water at the park and it was a perfect spring day. He walked me down these long winding steps and all of the sudden I see someone who looked just like one of my best friends (who is a photographer) peek out from behind a tree! It is embarrassing to admit but I was in shock and I still didn’t put together what was happening. In fact, when I saw the rose petals cascading down the steps I said “someone must have gotten engaged!” and James said “yes babe, you!!”

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We got down to the end of the staircase and he got down on one knee and told me that spending the rest of his life with me is the easiest decision he could ever make. There was a guitar-playing “our song” (Grow as We Go by Ben Platt) in the background. People stopped and cheered. I was in shock and stared blankly at him. He says that I didn’t say yes but I DID put the ring of my finger.

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When I saw the rose gold pave setting around a round sparkling diamond that I have been subtly (okay, not so subtly) sending him on a weekly basis for years, I couldn’t wait to put it on! Waiting next to a bouquet of flowers was a beautiful note that made me cry, again. All I remember thinking is “God, I cannot wait to marry this man.”

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My friend took some photos of us and he whisked me away to an intimate lunch before we went back to see our parents and share the good news. We got to a little cafe nearby and there was a marquis that says “You are engaged!” All of our closest friends and family were there to celebrate our joy. Waiting at home was my last subscription box with plane tickets to Las Vegas for the next week to see my idol/icon, Celine Dion. The fitting theme of this one? Dreams Come True. We finished the day with takeout and couch snuggles and it was easily the best day of my life. He did good!

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Special Thanks

Maria Alba
 | Photographer