How/where/when did you meet?

Although I kept denying my roommate’s offer to set me up with one of her Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf customers, ironically I met the guy (Josue) when I made a coffee stop on my drive down to Mexico. He was curious what I was doing with a car full of belongings and I explained that I was moving to be a caregiver of 80 kiddos at an orphanage. As time went on he became my biggest supporter and we got to know each other when he started crossing the border every week to help me rescue kiddos from the garbage dump… eventually, helping me care for my 3 foster babes, who doctors thought were too malnourished to live and are now full of life and thriving! When I moved back from Mexico and we started officially dating and I had the great opportunity of loving on his daughter and helping him do all the motherly things when she was with daddy, later becoming her “Momma B”.

What’s special about your relationship? What do you love most about each other?

We both admire the way one another loves people.

Tell us all about the proposal!

There were only 2 things I asked of him. 1.That my nails be painted. 2.That he wouldn’t propose on a cliche holiday. Thankfully my nails were done, because he popped the question on Valentine’s Day of all days. I know now that this was his only chance in surprising me, and the way he set up the whole day made it the best day of my life so far (I even forgot what day it was). He gave me time to get ready for a “Valentine’s dinner”, but texted me before the pick up time saying that I needed to check my car… this is where I found the first clue of the scavenger hunt that led me to all the locations that are most significant to our relationship. The scavenger hunt ended at Coffee Bean and Josue was sitting at the same table where we first met the day I was moving to Mexico. He gave me a dozen roses and drove me to the Terranea Resort, and I thought the big surprise was going to a fancy schmancy dinner. When we arrived the restaurant told us we had some time before our reservation, so I asked Josue if we could walk around to see the amazing view. When we made it to a beautiful lookout point, Josue read me the most heart-felt and affirming poem that he wrote for me, and I cried ugly tears as he got down on one knee.Even before marriage it felt that we have gone through the fire. We dealt with long distance, raising a step-child, foster parenting, racism, health problems, and so on… so saying “yes” was more than just an excited response to a long-awaited question, but a relief to know that I would be stepping into marriage with a man who would continue to love me well through all the stuff of life.

Now tell us all about the wedding!

Making our wedding about the two of us was really important to us. We’ve seen a lot of the same ole’ stuff, but even the really beautifully executed designs being repeated over & over means that it’s not personalized to the couple.

Our wedding had a modern hispanic feel with cues from the desert landscape and hispanic culture. Josue (the groom), grew up in Panama and we met right before I moved to be a caregiver & foster momma at an orphanage in Mexico, which means the the first year of us dating took place in Mexico (where we embraced the culture together). We took a trip to Puerto Nuevo to purchase Mexican Woven blankets and pinatas as a design element, and obviously we served tacos.

We really wanted an element that represented the solidity and unbreakable nature of our marriage, so I (the bride) used concrete to hand-make our centerpieces, 200 dinner plates (with the help of a few dear friends), and candleholders (in collaboration with designer Benjamin Holtrop). I commissioned Josue to create a 7ft circular white backdrop out of wood to symbolize the unity, holiness and eternal nature of our commitment. We chose our flowers, Proteas, because they symbolize unity and diversity, which is a motif in our own relationship.

Incredible!  Lovelies, do yourself a favor and check out the brides event design business ( ladyoftheriver.com ).

What are some of the most memorable/unique moments from your wedding day?

Josue and I will forever cherish the few minutes we took to ourselves immediately following the ceremony. A friend suggested we set a few minutes aside to soak in the first moments as a married couple. It was by far one of the sweetest moments we’ve ever had.

Another one of my favorite moments was sharing my vows to my 6-year-old (now) daughter, and hearing the vows she wrote to me and her daddy. I think everyone was in tears at that point.

Any advice for other couples getting married?

Do premarital counseling! Seriously. We went through two courses and then met with a therapist and it was the best decision we made for our marriage. The way my mother-in-love would put it is that you wouldn’t build a house without drawing out blueprints first. Having all the tough, and not-so-tough discussions before stepping into a life long commitment is sooo valuable. I feel that Josue and I can make it through anything now, because we know where the other person stands.

The first year of marriage was reallll refining. I mean, through the fire refining. Three months into our marriage, I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Talk about a way to start a marriage… several trips to the ER, a lost job, three months of bed rest, several court hearings & a whole lot of pain (I meannnn a LOT of pain). This was only the beginning for us. The year was followed by a lotta drama leading us to court to fight for custody of our babe. We’ve been sharing a car since (driving one to work, the other to school, & another to work then repeat) & I had to face my fear & anxiety of driving again by spending an average of 4 hours in the car each day 😱. I mean refiningggg! Never could I have guessed that my most challenging year of life would be paired with my first year of marriage (which I’ve heard is tough in & of itself). Although it’s been really rough with external challenges, I feel real grateful for the ways each trial drew me closer with my husband & even closer to Jesus. What are vows if they are never tested? Or commitment if it is never challenged? Or unconditional love, if there are no conditions? Ive come out of our first year of marriage with a deeper dependence on God & a refined love for my husband & daughter. If all the trials & hardships of this year led to that, than it was all worth it. 💛