Valeri Santa and Joshua

How We Met

I had been living away from my family and was leading a pretty isolated life, much to my mom’s dismay. She kept sending me details about a Filipino pageant that she (along with my aunts whom she recruited to push me) insisted I join to make some friends. When the time for the rehearsal arrived, it was noticed by all of the coordinators that I was participating with no help while the other girls had shown up with their parents or friends. I was invited to the staff-only dinner where I struck up a conversation with the host and her brother.

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We talked about music, our favorite YouTubers, and filmmaking. Their oldest brother, Josh (the videography for the event), was sitting nearby, listening to everything. He messaged afterward asking me to join them for the Orlando 48 Hour Film Project. I eagerly accepted, happy to have found people with the same interests as me! The film went on to collect numerous awards and we’ve since stayed together to be partners in career and life endeavors.

How They Asked

During one of my piano lessons, my teacher and friend of over ten years invited me to a networking event that was being hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I was stoked to go, but also slightly nervous as one would be. When the time came for the event to take place, we carpooled to make sure we could walk in together, but all of the doors were locked. The last door was answered by a sparkling woman who introduced herself as Emily, and she explained that the event had been canceled but that she would gladly give us a tour of the building to make it up to us.

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As we toured the different smaller stages and offices, I was buzzing from head to toe, fangirling in a way, knowing I was seeing the building empty as the DSO musicians do. We made our way to the concert hall through backstage where I marveled at the musician’s lounge and music folders for a bit before Emily directed us to check out the stage. She asked the string trio if it was okay for us to watch them rehearse before we stepped out to walk around and learn about the different stage setups. They shifted from a classical piece to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” and I thought it was a bit odd but wished that Josh was there to hear it since it’s one of our favorite songs.

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While asking Emily where the best place to sit for concerts was, a couple of my friends walked out in front of the stage. I assumed they were getting a make-up tour for the canceled event too until I saw Josh’s brother and dad walk out, and my mom and brother after them. Everything connected at once, that this was the big moment. I turned around and there was Josh, a huge smile and tears in his eyes… “This is it, it’s happening,” he said. All of the words were taken out of me as I processed that he planned ALL of this for me, and the only thing I could do was nod my head to an excessive degree.

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The answer was already “YES!!” but I couldn’t force it out. I continued to nod and opened my arms when he asked if I would marry him, coming full circle to the first time he said he loved me and all I could do in my excitement was hug him before my heart and brain could collect themselves to say something articulate!

Our friends and family cheered and came on stage for hugs and pictures afterward, and it took a bit of time before I could catch my breath and before my knees unlocked (you can see my wobble at the end of the video). Everything about how he asked from the private building tour to the string trio was “Perfect”, and he created a day that I will fondly look back on with him for the rest of our forever.

Our Video

Special Thanks

Jessica Musser
 | Photographer
Joshua Ortiz
 | Videographer