Lena and Stephen

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How We Met

In October of 2016, Steve and I were not too far from one another and didn’t realize we would be meeting soon, beginning a wonderful journey and relationship. I was a graduate student at Villanova University and Steve worked at a wealth management firm in Collegeville, PA. On an average Friday night during the weekend of Villanova homecoming (October 21st, 2016), we were both invited to dinner with mutual friends, not knowing until the last minute that we would be meeting that night. After a fun dinner, we exchanged numbers and have been connected ever since. From the first moment I met Steve, he was kind, warm, and easy to talk to. He made me feel like I had been a part of his life for years, and so did his family. It was simple and just felt right. The following months consisted of endless dates in Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Wayne, and Philadelphia, where we began to realize that something special was forming. We were so similar but yet had differences that inspired one another to be our best selves, stronger, and happier.

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After almost a year of being close in PA, a new job brought me back to the NY area (as my family is from NJ and Steve’s is from PA), causing our relationship to become long-distance. For about a year, we visited each other on weekends and made memories traveling between NJ, PA, and NYC, always becoming closer with each other’s families along the way. In February of 2019, Steve and I began our lives in NYC together at our first apartment in Midtown. We spend our days exploring the city, trying new restaurants, and planning our future together. The past four years have been an amazing and unforgettable journey, one that is continuously teaching us that we can overcome any obstacle and live a beautiful life together. We are blessed to have two kind, caring, and welcoming families that have grown close and constantly serve as an inspiration for us as people, life partners, and future parents. We live to celebrate our past, look forward to our future, and never take for granted the friends and family with which we are beyond blessed. It has been an unforgettable four years filled with happiness, adventures, and endless memories. We cannot wait to see what the future brings!

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How They Asked

Steve and I were living our everyday lives in NYC when the pandemic hit the city like a storm. Suddenly, our usual hectic routines transformed into two remote jobs and endless hours in our apt together. We have always been supportive of one another, but this trying time truly showed us how much we care for each other’s health and happiness. We helped one another through job loss, career struggles, family health concerns, and the everyday stress 2020 brought to light. We are each other’s everything, being one another’s support systems, as well as positive, loving partners in life.

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After spending some time at home during this past summer, we decided to move back into the city in mid-September. Since we had not fully been in the city since late Spring, we were excited to enjoy the fall weather and an outdoor brunch in Bryant Park (around the corner from our apt). On the morning of Saturday, September 19th I was being my normal self, running late and cleaning the apt moments before we were supposed to be heading to the park. Steve, being his normal self, kindly convinced me to get ready so that we could get a nice table outside for the afternoon. As we left the apt and walked towards Bryant Park, I could sense Steve walking briskly but did not suspect anything, as he usually does so in the city. Once we approached the New York Public Library (NYPL), which borders the park, he suggested that we walk around the building to get to the lunch spot, Bryant Park Grill.

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The NYPL has always held a special place in my heart since it is where Steve helped me locate my Papa’s doctoral dissertation the year before for my family. My parents and I have always admired the library and enjoyed visiting there. It is also where Steve and I would walk together every morning before parting ways for work before the pandemic. As we crossed the street and passed the front entrance, Steve asked that I remove my mask so he could kiss me. Of course, I was confused and did not want to remove my mask at the time, however as soon as he looked at me, I had a feeling something special was happening. Once we removed our masks, he said the most wonderful things, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

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Being so overwhelmed and excited as I saw him pull out my dream ring, I proceeded to say “Thank You!” before a loud “Yes!” which made the moment even more memorable and special. Being that this was during Covid times, two of my best friends were across the street hanging out of the sunroof in their car, yelling congratulations with all their excitement and love. It was the most perfect day and moment, from there not being a cloud in the sky to Steve making our engagement everything I dreamed of and more during an impossible time. He thought of every detail and even planned a surprise brunch with my parents and his family after our engagement shoot around the park.

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We had an amazing outdoor brunch after all. Steve also surprised me with a visit from one of my best friends from college during the brunch. It meant the world to me, being that we couldn’t have everyone there during these times. The weekend was spent being extremely thankful for love, family, and health. The following day we were able to have an outdoor gathering with my mother’s family and my Nana, who will be 93 years old on our wedding day in 2022. Our story began on my Papa’s birthday, October 21st, 2016, we got engaged on my godfather’s birthday, September 19th, 2020, and we are planning to get married on my Nana’s birthday, August 20th, 2022.

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We look forward to safely celebrating with all of our friends and family this year and next and will cherish time together more than ever before.

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Special Thanks

J. Stud Studio
 | Photographer