Marleny and Michael

Image 1 of Marleny and Michael

How We Met

I’ve always been the extroverted one in my friend groups. Many who know me know that meeting people in whimsical or memorable ways was how I made all my friends in college (and post-grad). Naturally, meeting Mike was just another typical encounter in my repertoire of connections. For those of you who have never been to Saint John’s, the campus is a quaint, tight-knit community filled with brick buildings and secret tunnels that connect them together. In 2016, I was a junior, having just returned from study abroad, and was ready to bear the winter in MN. My friend Shanley had suggested we cut through one of the buildings (Mary Hall) on our way to the bus stop and I happily accepted. On our way through, she suggested we stop by her band friend Michael’s room to say hi. I had seen senior pictures of the guy and enthusiastically agreed. When we got to his door, I jokingly suggested to Shanley that I should be the one (a stranger) to knock on the door and throw him off guard just for the giggles. Unfortunately, he was too lazy to get up and simply yelled, “Come in!” but I was committed to my bit. I came inside with a smile and started conversing with him as if he were an old friend and he surprisingly went along. His white stained t-shirt and knee-length shorts couldn’t distract me from his eyes and I was smitten right away (so much so, that upon leaving his room I called dibs 😉). After we realized his cousin Alex had studied abroad with me, immediately after leaving Mike’s room, I messaged Alex asking him why he hadn’t mentioned that he had a hot cousin haha. After that, we began seeing each other at the cafeteria every day (he always stopped by to say hi and talk to me) and then months later over the summer Mike would come to visit me 3 times a week while I was on campus even though he lived an hour away. After a kiss at the end of the summer in one of the worst rainstorms ever, here we are. 😊

-Marleny

Image 2 of Marleny and Michael

How They Asked

Before I planned to propose to Marleny, I wanted to ask for her parent’s blessing. That plan started to form when we went to Mexico to visit her family in Maltrata, Veracruz. I was able to meet all her aunts, uncles, and grandparents while being there. Luckily, I know enough Spanish that I was able to easily talk with them and ask them about their marriage traditions. One of the traditional ways to propose in Mexico involves going over to the woman’s family home and bring the parents their favorite bread in baskets. Another traditional gift to the parents is a donkey or animal and while I knew someone who could provide me with a donkey, I opted out of that and decided to search for a Mexican bakery in the cities instead. 😉 In early August, without Marleny knowing, I was finally able to drive the hour and a half to her parents’ place with three bags of their favorite bread. While driving down, I didn’t know what I was going to say, I just knew that I wanted to do it all in Spanish to honor them and show them that their traditions will live on.

Image 3 of Marleny and Michael

When I got there I nervously told them, “I brought three bags for you and your family. Each bag representing something of mine. One bag is health, the second bag is money and the last bag is love. I want to marry your daughter and what I give you is my health, my money, and all my love. You are my family and I come to ask for your blessing.” As I spoke that in Spanish, I caught myself choking up and struggling to say the rest but nevertheless, they gave me their blessing. The proposal itself started to form when we both went to a quinceañera. A family friend of Marleny (Ernie) was going to start his first year at SJU and Marleny volunteered us to help him move in.

Image 4 of Marleny and Michael

Saint John’s was where we met and it was only fitting to propose there. I knew I could surprise her by proposing at SJU down by the lake with a little help from Ernie. He told her to meet him and his family by the lake to take a picture before moving in and it was the perfect way to get her by the chapel trail and towards that first bridge on the path. I needed help finding someone who could take pictures and decorate beforehand and thankfully my amazing older brother and sister-in-law live right by SJU and gladly helped. They did a great job and even set up a celebratory picnic for us afterward. If I’m being honest, I think I blacked out while proposing, but I did manage to tell her about asking for her parents’ blessing and that I was offering her all my health, love, and money (and debt). I told her I loved her so much and couldn’t imagine waking up without her. All I know is she said yes. 😊

-Michael

Image 5 of Marleny and Michael