Mariana and Marcos

How We Met

Marcos and I met when I was 11 years old, the first thing he said to me after I tried to kick him out of Sunday School was “I am going to marry you one day.” And boy was he persistent!

As we grew older, I needed to move from Brazil to the US and indeed our sweet dream of being together was crushed. Marcos would constantly check in on me as a friend while occasionally leaving “I miss you” messages.

Every summer I would visit my family in Brazil and since Marcos’s sister and I were best friends, consequently, I would spend most of my time with Marcos as our escort. In the summer of 2011, I was only 15 and my family wanted to make sure him and I would get some alone time on the dance floor on my 15th birthday.

Indeed, we danced and stayed together until the end of the night. Our families were very strict and would always make sure that we would be surrounded by friends. During that same summer, we decided to verbally admit to each other (and our families) that we were more than friends. Thus, we prayed and left our confession to the world after our youth retreat with Marcos’s church.

During the retreat, girls are encouraged to spend time with other girls and make sure that we are focused solemnly with our relationship with God. So in that retreat, I did not get to spend a lot of time with Marcos but I felt something very strong inside of me saying that the time to date Marcos was not right yet. After crying my eyes out to God and trying to come up with words to explain to my childhood sweetheart what I was feeling, I finally had the courage to ask Marcos to talk.

As I spoke to Marcos, his eyes started to water with tears and he started telling me that it is impossible, God would not do that. Marcos kept persisting that he prayed for so long for “us to happen” and he was going to tell his parents right after the retreat. Well, I gave in to listening to Marcos and eventually we came back to our normal lives, mine in the US and his in Brazil.

Within the winter, the hours between Brazil and the US are constantly changing. There were days were Marcos and I would have a 3 hour time difference. Marcos would patiently wait for me to call him. Because of my duties with the church, Marcos sometimes would wait until 3 o’clock in the morning for a phone call from me. Well, as said before, his parents would not let him talk at that time because they were so strict. After all, one of the rules in his house was that he had to wait until he was 18 to date and he was still only 17.

All in all, Marcos’s mom heard him talking on the phone at 4 o’clock in the morning with his soon to be girlfriend, and sadly, I heard every single word that his mother said about us not being able to be together yet because the time was not right.

I understood, but my 15 year-old-self became truly rebellious at the thought of not being with her prince charming so I ignored Marcos for the next 5 years of my life. Caring for him as a friend but completely hid my love for him even from myself. I would reject all thoughts about Marcos and I being together ever again.

Marcos and I went from being best friends to strangers in that one phone call. And to top it all off, Marcos’s sister left to start her career in journalism in Spain so there would be no reason to hang out with Marcos anymore.

Those 5 years passed by. Marcos and I were no longer friends or even acquaintances.

In 2015, when I started to plan my future which meant leaving from my New Jersey home to move to Virginia to start my studies, Marcos sent me a message on Facebook at 2 o’clock in the morning. The first thing he said was that he was not going to bother me but that his church was encouraging people to re-connect with relationships that matter. Therefore, Marcos wanted to speak to me and become friends again, not because he liked me (lie) but because I would always help him spiritually before anything else.

I listened and immediately answered, “Hi! That is awesome, I miss you too.” Marcos was so surprised that I had immediately answered, and we kept talking until much later on that night. Nonetheless, I caught him up to the last 5 years of my life. Break-ups, friends, constant moves throughout high school and obviously how I was going to school and claiming my independence from the world.

Well, my parents were now moving to Florida and I honestly could not even explain how confusing it was to move and still decide on which school to go. Afraid of being in debt for the next 30 years of my life, I did not claim independence from my parents and decided to move with them to FL. Marcos and I were friends and I did not want to revisit any feelings or desires towards him ever again. Marcos noticed that I grew cold towards him so he decided to send me a huge paragraph explaining how selfish I was and that all he did was try to be closer to me but it seemed like all I was focused on was myself. Well, Marcos was done with talking to me or even listening to what I had to say in return. I, at the time, filled with studies and conflicts at home could not even start to explain my feelings so I just left it alone.

After a while, finishing my first semester at a 4-year university was exhausting and I was ready for my favorite time of the season: Christmas! The year of 2015 was filled with ups and downs and I decided to prioritize my family for the holidays. I flew all the way to Brazil to meet them for New Year’s. It was such a great feeling to be together with everyone that it made me miss Marcos. Every inch of my body would say leave it alone but my heart was heavy with “You did not even say ‘Merry Christmas!’”. I had to seek counsel from someone I trusted so I asked my brother if it would be weird to say Merry Christmas to an old friend you once had a great relationship with. Then my brother made me realize how selfish it was of me not to value a friendship. After all that had happened, I decided to say Merry Christmas and immediately Marcos replied with “What do you want?” All I could say was that I had forgotten to say Merry Christmas. Marcos replied with the casual following words: “You know we are made to be more than friends, you either tell me that you want that or I am going to be in constant doubt of our friendship. So decide and if so I’ll go straight home to talk to you privately.” Those words broke me down. All I said was “I don’t know but maybe I want to be more than just friends.” That was a turning point for us, we have never celebrated New Year’s or Christmas away from each other since that day. I went to Brazil May 17th of 2016 and he waited until that day to ask me at the beach to be his girlfriend forever even at a distance.

How They Asked

After our 10 year long history, Marcos was encouraged by his mom to move to the US and finish school. Finally, his mom was sure that him and I were meant to be. I have always been a hopeless romantic, my favorite movies of all time are “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook”. Therefore, the love that we share was something that I always wanted to remember. No matter the time or place I just loved being caught in the moment with him. That is when I decided to do a photoshoot. After begging Marcos during the one year and two months we were together, he finally agreed to let other people take pictures of us. Marcos bought me a dress and made sure that I would approve of every detail (including my nails). He took me to the most amazing place, filled with flowers and the greatest sea-views. Marcos thought of everything I ever loved. Little did I know that Marcos had a cameraman and my brother (who was with us the whole time) carrying the ring. This is my favorite ring! He prepared a corner of the garden with roses, a heart balloon and all of the pictures we took with our iPhone throughout the years we’ve known each other. I was so caught up in the photoshoot that every loving thing he said I thought was just for the pictures. Then, Marcos looked at me and knelt down on one knee and said “Mariana Ferreira Ottero, will you marry me?” I was so in shock that everything was happening and so in love with everything and all of our story that it felt like I was part of a fairytale. 11 years later, he proposed to me! I am so beyond grateful to my family for bringing us together and to God for constantly giving us confirmations of love and purpose.

Special Thanks

The Cardonas
 | Photography
Virginia Key Beach
 | Location