Melissa and Jose

Image 1 of Melissa and Jose Palao

How We Met

We met at a mutual friend’s graduation party back in July of 2014 and I was actually the first one to approach him! Embarrassingly enough, the first thing I ever said to him was “How old are you?” Not the greatest way to introduce myself. We naturally hit it off and he ended up giving me his number before the end of the night.

The best part of our story actually occurred the next day, I ended up texting him but he never responded. Later that day, I got a Facebook message from him, which I thought was odd because he never answered my text. What he’d done was 10 times more embarrassing than my first line; he accidentally gave me the WRONG number the night we met (I guess he had a little too much to drink). He ended up planning our first date at a Pho restaurant in our area, getting ice cream in Jersey City, and walking along the beautiful Jersey City Exchange Place Waterfront overlooking the New York City Skyline. It’s been amazing ever since.

how they asked

We’ve been talking about getting engaged for a while now, and my non-negotiables were always to be surprised, have all of our close friends and family witnessing our moment, and not proposing on a special occasion. And that included all special occasions; my birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, even 4th of July. I was totally okay with it if the proposal wasn’t at a sentimental location, just because I would totally see it coming.

I wasn’t going to be around all this summer due to my graduate school medical externship that I’m doing in Texas. My parents were also scheduled to be out of the country pretty much the rest of the year, except for the remainder of May, and sometime in August and September. I was 100% convinced I had him figured out and that he was going to plan our engagement during the summer time, and propose after coming back from Texas in August. I was so very wrong.

On May 6th, we went to weekly Sunday Mass with my parents and one of my older brothers as we normally do. We normally have lunch with them after Mass, but this Sunday he told me he planned a date for us since I was going to be gone for the summer. His original plan was to have a picnic at a park near our church, but since the weather wasn’t cooperating that day, he told me he ended up booking a painting class to paint our German Shepherd Puppy! He still wanted to take me to the park beforehand since he said we had time to kill before the class.

Image 3 of Melissa and Jose Palao

The park was beautiful! It was a little picturesque park called Mindowaskin Park in Westfield, NJ. We walked around the lake and at the end of the loop, we approached a beautiful stone arch bridge. He stopped me at the entrance and handed me a letter to read on my own personal time. He said he wanted to bring me to the park to actually tell me how much I meant to him, and how that it was going to be difficult when I was gone for the Summer. I thought he was just being sentimental, but he kept telling me how he felt and I began to realize something bigger was up. He clenched my hands tightly the entire time and I could tell he did not want me to look around, especially behind me. I began crying because I had a feeling it was coming, but I was still questioning where everyone was since that was my biggest non-negotiable.

Image 4 of Melissa and Jose Palao

At the end of his speech, he had a strange request to switch positions of where we were standing. I’d stand where he was standing, and he’d stand where I was standing. Originally, I was facing the stone arch bridge entrance, with my back towards a parking lot for a nearby church. He was oriented towards the parking lot, with his back against the bridge. As soon as I turned around to position into his spot, I completely lost it. All my loved ones were watching the whole time behind me. When he got down on one knee, I completely blanked out and could not grasp what was happening, all I did was begin to cry and embrace him.

Image 5 of Melissa and Jose Palao

It took me a while to grasp everything that was happening. While I was hugging all of my friends and family, my (now) fiance told me that someone else was here. My oldest brother and his wife flew out from Dallas, Texas just to witness this very special moment for us. I was beyond shocked when I saw him and her and I totally lost it after that. To this very day, it is still very difficult to comprehend exactly what happened just because I was so caught off guard. After the proposal, everyone couldn’t stop telling me how impressed they were with how he planned every single detail of the proposal so this day could be perfect for me. This was way beyond my expectations and I’m so grateful. On to the next chapter in our lives, I cannot wait!! I love you always.

Image 6 of Melissa and Jose Palao

Image 2 of Melissa and Jose Palao

Special Thanks

Seth Oclatis
 | Photographer