Lizzy and Jermaine

How We Met

Jermaine and I had many mutual friends all throughout high school, although we attended different high schools in Anchorage, Alaska. Supposedly he was attracted to me in high school, but nothing came out of that as I was dating someone else at the time. It wasn’t until my 21st birthday celebrating at a club that we both noticed each other and he asked me for a dance.

how they asked

June 20, 2017: Lucky number 7… that’s the thought that raced through my head all day as I was sitting at work, thinking of how lucky I was to have found love and be with someone for 7 years on that date. Work has been incredibly insane the past few days, and I didn’t get a chance to plan anything to celebrate our anniversary. I posted something really cheesy on Instagram that reflected some of my favorite memories from the past 7 years we’ve spent together. Jermaine assured me that he had taken care of plans and we were going out somewhere nice to dinner. I waited for him to pick me up after work so we can head straight to make his reservations at 5:30. 5:00 pm — he picks me up. We never have dinner early but he claims the restaurant didn’t have any available times later that evening. We make our way to RingSide Steakhouse, a swanky spot we’ve been to before, but there was a particular reason why he chose that restaurant. More to come on that in a little bit. We wined and dined and talked about our busy work day. Towards the end of our dinner, he asked me what time it was. I replied to him “6:30” and asked what he wanted to do after dinner. My nerdy self asked if he wanted to go home and watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones. (Side note: We just started watching this series and are only on Season 2, and I really thought we could just go home and hang out and enjoy one another’s company.) He mentioned he had something planned for us, and wanted to see a friend who was “putting something together”. Initially I thought, “Yeah right… you’re not serious, are you? You really want to see your friend on our anniversary?” Nonchalantly he answered yes and I decided to see if he was really serious about these plans. We left the restaurant and started driving downtown, towards the China Town area where a few of his buddies own shops. That’s when I thought to myself, “Oh my god… he’s really serious. He’s going to visit his friend on our special night!” 6:50 pm — We park downtown nearby the waterfront. He kept looking over in that direction which got me thinking he had planned a surprise activity for us in the area. He told me I wouldn’t need my purse and to leave it in the car. I then started to run through a bunch of what-if scenarios of different types of activities we could possibly get into that didn’t require my wallet or phone: a boat tour for us on the Portland Spirit? A sunset bike ride along the river? Heck, at this point I even thought we were going to do some BrewCycling (group cycling + beer drinking LOL)! I was completely wrong. He took my hand and we started walking towards some part of downtown I wasn’t too familiar with. At one point before walking into some random building, he stopped us from walking, held me tight, and said “I love you” to me in a way that just felt different than any other time he says those words. I don’t know what it was– but it was so meaningful and so full of heart. He kissed me on my head, took my hand, and led the way into a building that read “Le Tesebita” on the door.

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7:00 pm — We entered what was set up as an art gallery. I saw a photographer and huge light boxes set up and thought to myself “Oh cute! He set up a professional couples photo shoot for us. I don’t look my best (I’m in my work clothes) but we can use some new photos.” I took quick look around the room and saw a few photos of me at the end the room (which I thought was weird), a few photos of us on the wall, and lastly our anniversary date “06.20.2010” on the wall. “What is this?” I kept thinking to myself… then cue the music in the background coming from a speaker with 7 candles lit around it: Robin Thicke – The Sweetest Love, which is our song, was playing.

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OH. MY. GOD…. IS THIS IT? IS THIS THE MOMENT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR? COULD HE POSSIBLY BE PROPOSING TO ME TONIGHT? In true art gallery appreciation form… Jermaine brings me over to the left side of the room where there were seven abstract black-and-white art pieces in frames. Each piece represented some aspect of our life together. He recited what each piece meant, with his voice started to tremble. I could hear him crying, tears rolling and sniffles.

Lizzy and Jermaine's Engagement in Le Tesebita Art Gallery in Portland, OR

A couple holding hands to represent us: a couple, together, and in love. A photo of the Anchorage skyline, to represent where we came from, our original home. Our anniversary date. June 20 2010– for what we were celebrating. An airplane for our love of traveling and exploring the world together. A tree to represent coming from large, loving families, and how we would establish our own in the future. His favorite love quote– because he really couldn’t imagine seeing his life without me. And lastly, the number 7– to represent 7 years of being together. 7 years of every moment and experience we’ve spent together that led up to this moment, and for what’s to come after hitting our 7-year mark.

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He took my hand and brought me to the right side of the room that showcased colored photos of us. There was significance of them being in color which represented me bringing color to his life. There were seven frames on the wall with his favorite photos of us from the past seven years together. Not only were these his favorite photos, but they were all significant moments in our lives together.

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We then get to the seventh and last photo frame… which is blank. There was a reason why it was intentionally left blank. It was to frame the memory of what was about to happen for our seventh year together…

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Both of us crying with the chorus of “The Sweetest Love” playing in the background, Jermaine brings me to the center of the room. Looking into his eyes with tears coming down fast, he drops down to one knee. In pure disbelief I could not believe this was it. This was the moment I’ve been waiting for so long. He brings out a box, opens it, and although I see the ring, everything was a complete blur to me. I saw a ring in front of me, but I looked completely past the ring to focus on his face, his eyes, and the words that he recited. I wanted to hear him say those words I longed for and I wanted to take in every second of hearing his voice, seeing his face, and feeling what I felt as he asked…

Will you marry me?

In pure Lizzy form… I didn’t say “Yes” right away as I was taking a moment to register everything that was happening. Internally I was screaming “YES, OF COURSE at the top of my lungs”… but what I recall myself actually telling Jermaine was: “What?! Really?! Are you serious?!” all with excitement and crying. Yes! Of course I will! And he gets up and places the ring on my finger…

He takes my hand and walks me over to the table at the end of the room, where I initially saw photos of me. He had printed out his most favorite photos he had of me from over the years. There were brochures to the “Le Tesebita” art gallery that explained what tonight’s showcase was about.

Le Tesebita was my legal name, Elisabette, transposed into a French-inspired name he came up to name the art gallery. ​The brochure read (in his own words): ​Le Tesebita is an art gallery that was carefully curated with pure love and affection in mind. This journey has been through rough roads and smooth sailing, but the man responsible for this vision would not change a single thing. Every experience has led up to this exact point. and this gallery is merely a reminder of how this moment has finally come to fruition. The pieces on the left are symbolic to the special relationship that they have developed over the years. The images captured on the right are chronologically-arranged to represent moments in time leading up to today. The number seven is prevalent throughout the exhibit This represents the time frame that laid the foundation for what lies ahead in their very-near future… ​Let the waterworks flow, ladies and gentlemen. Someone please tell me how I got so lucky to have him… and he wants to have me as his forever? ​

The songs that played in the background this entire time were: “The Sweetest Love” by Robin Thicke “The Way You Look Tonight” by Micheal Buble “Will You Still Love Me” by Chicago “All My Life” K-Ci & Jojo “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran I was able to hear bits and pieces of each song that he carefully selected to play on this special night. We took some time to take in everything and appreciate the gallery, our love, and now looking forward to the future together.

He then told me how the number 7 played as the main theme throughout the night. He purposely made early dinner reservations at RingSide so that he can propose at 7pm. He took me to RingSide because of the name “Ring” in the name. He had been planning this moment for the past year and actually requested the past 2 days off work so he can run all over town and get everything perfected for this evening. He did good, you guys… he went above and beyond for us, as he always does. Cue in more crying throughout the night.

We then had a few friends join us after everything went down: Index PDX owners Mikey and Terrance and our good friends George, and Tony. Our amazing photographer, Vanndy, completed the 7 that we needed in the room to complete the theme. We popped some champagne and celebrated. They had set up a video camera and caught everything for us. A huge thanks to them for helping Jermaine put together this incredible production and for being able to share this moment with us. Our lives in Portland wouldn’t be what it is without each of you.

And that wraps up the proposal. We’re engaged!!!! Thank you all so much for not only reading our story, but for being a part of our lives. We’re thrilled to take this next step in our journey and we look forward to planning the big day! Love always, Lizzy (soon-to-be Tolentino)

Special Thanks

Vanndy Ouk | 
Mikey Nguyen | 
Terrance Ricketts | 
Blue Nile