Meet our Couples: Jasmine & Raul

(Photo taken by the waitress the night they got engaged!)

Names: Jasmine Clark & Raul Mendez
Hometowns: Ayer, MA; Chicago Illinois
Occupations: Jasmine (Project Manager/Print Production Manager); Raul (Designer/Delivery Services Manager)

Wedding Date: October 13, 2012
Location: Newport, RI
Colors: Shades of Dark to Light Purples (Freesia), Shades of Dark and Light Blues (Pale Blue), Hint of Ivory and Accent of Mauve
Vibe you are going for: Classic Elegance

Let’s hear your love story! And it goes a little something like this…

Jasmine writes…
January 2008 marked a new chapter in my life. I was transitioning into a new job, new career path and new attitude. I felt energetic and was ready to network, make new friends and socialize. I wasn’t looking to date per se, but I knew what I wanted in a romantic partner and enthusiastically anticipated finding him. I wrote out a long list of traits I was looking for in a boyfriend and daydreamed about this person. I guess you could say I dreamed of Raul and he came true! He even likes motorcycles, which I wrote down! Six months into our friendship Raul and I spent more and more time together and soon our friendship blossomed into a loving and committed partnership.

Raul writes…
I met Jasmine in January of 2008 (wow that is over 3 and a 1/2 years ago time travels fast when you are happy). We were both working for the same employer. One night we went to a going away dinner with our coworkers. Jasmine was new to the company and taking over our colleague’s position that was leaving. I happened to have been sitting next to her at the dinner table. The interesting thing was I actually started talking to her, which I never did before because I was always too quiet or shy (believe it or not). She made me feel comfortable enough to just be myself. After a while, I finally asked Jasmine if she wanted to hang out one weekend as friends, and to give me a call. It was a Saturday and I waited for her to call. I didn’t want to make other plans because I wanted to meet up with her, so I waited and she actually didn’t call. She remembers this too because that Monday at work I came by and hit her on the head with a folder. After that we made plans to meet in the Commons in Boston and things progressed from a friendship to a life enhancing relationship. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life without her.

How did you/he pop the question? Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How we got engaged
Raul writes…
I was planning on proposing to Jasmine in February. I was unsure of the date. I thought of proposing on Valentine’s Day and then later changed my mind because I felt that a lot of people propose on Valentine’s Day so I decided on a different day. After purchasing the ring, which made me happy as ever, I needed to get home and hide it right away without being to awkward. After successfully hiding the ring I started narrowing down my ideas on the date and of course how I was going to propose.

I wanted someplace that was special to us and I wanted an intimate place and at the same time a public one. I originally thought of the Ethiopian restaurant called Asmara that Jasmine introduced to when we first started dating as the place to propose, but kept thinking of locations. After some time the thought of proposing at Asmara just seemed right. We have been eating there since we’ve been together (4 years), they know us there, the food is great, service is awesome, and it is intimate. Once I decided on Asmara I needed to pick a date. I chose February 29th because it only comes around every 4 years and I figured what better day than that one. I called the restaurant way ahead of time and spoke to the waitress that always takes care of us to let her know what I was planning. From the beginning she was excited for us both. The restaurant was more than helpful and helped me 100%.

Prior to the planning Jasmine and I were talking about trying different foods from around the world and making some dishes. This gave me a great opening because I had to get Jasmine to agree to go to the restaurant without her getting too suspicious. I told her what better way to start eating food from around the world than with starting with the best Ethiopian restaurant ever. I told her we would go to Asmara on Wednesday the 29th after we got out of work. She agreed.

Jasmine asked me that day if I had made reservations and I told her I did not but we would be good because I had already called them to make sure. I had planned on getting home early before she did so that I could grab the ring from my hiding place and hide it in my coat. It was a little more challenging than that. When I got home Jasmine was home already. I had to figure out a way to get the ring and hide it in my coat without her seeing. When we were ready to leave I acted like I forgot something so I walked back to the bedroom, grabbed the ring, put it in my coat I had on, and we left. I was planning on calling the restaurant to let them know I was on the way, but I wasn’t able to because Jasmine was with me. Good thing I had spoken to them already so they new about what time to expect us. I had found parking in a lot not too far from the restaurant, which was great. Once we arrived, our waitress Saba seated us at a traditional table. As Jasmine walked toward the table I took the ring and placed it in my outer left side pocket and signaled to Saba the location. Right before I sat down I told Jasmine I was going to hang up my coat because it would fall, off the seat (really I needed Saba to get to my coat to get the ring), which was true. It would fall off the seat but that made it more believable. After I came back from hanging my coat I noticed that where Jasmine was sitting she could see the coat and potentially see Saba reach in and grab something. I had to thing of a way to switch seats. I thought quickly and suggested we switch seats because she was sitting more toward the door, which was colder. She agreed and we switched. Right after we switched seats, Saba walked to my coat and grabbed the ring. We had switched just in time.

We ate dinner like we normally do, nothing out of the ordinary. Saba came to us after we had eaten and asked us if we were finished. We said yes and they cleared everything away. Saba came back asked us if we were ready for the check and I told her yes. Normally when they bring the check they use a little miniature table similar to the table we were sitting. When Saba brought us the “check” she instead brought the ring. When Jasmine saw it a big smile came on her face. She asked me if she could try it on and I told her I had to do it the right way. I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. Saba took some pictures of us and I took a picture of the ring and uploaded to Facebook. We called our friends and family to let them know the great news. The other awesome thing was that we didn’t have to pay for dinner. Saba told us the dinner was on them.

When we got back to the car I had gotten a parking ticket because I misread the sign for the parking lot. That didn’t bother me at all. I was happy because Jasmine and I were engaged.

Who was the first person you told about your engagement? Jasmine’s mother, she is still very excited and enthusiastic about the wedding plans as the first day we told her.

How did you decide where you wanted to get married? Newport has such a nice ambiance and we love it there. New England is especially beautiful during the fall season.

What has been your favorite part of wedding planning? Taking ballroom dance classes. We wanted to do a special wedding dance and in the process have come to love it. Dancing is a fun way to spend time together. We also loved creating our invitations; they are customized and creative and represent who we are. We think everyone will love them!

Is there anything that you are making yourself for the wedding? We are the DJ’s for the wedding essentially, making our own customized wedding playlist throughout the event.

What are you honeymoon plans? We will be relaxing and soaking up the sun in the Canary Islands, Spain!!!! We are going to Fuerteventura and will also be spending a day mainland in Madrid.

We’ll be leaving for our honeymoon on Sunday, October 14th. The October weather is still beautiful and sunny so we’re really looking forward to it! We’re going to relax on the sandy beaches and plan on scuba diving; something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time!

Spain! What a great choice? What made you choose to spend your honeymoon there? The two of us love the arts, culture, architecture and overall scenery of Spain. We were planning to take a summer vacation there this year, but decided to push it out for our honeymoon since the weather is still nice in the Canaries in October.

Anything else you think our readers would like to know?
Your marriage is what is most important. Don’t forget when you are planning a wedding amid the stress and drama from others that the ceremony and reception are pieces of an even bigger puzzle that you are creating– Your Life Together! Plan your wedding around your honeymoon and do fun things together throughout the process so you don’t forget that the wedding is about you. There are no two people more emotionally invested in the process than you, don’t get distracted. Hold hands and never let go.

Well said advice. That is so so true. What is something you two do to refocus and stay centered on what is really important in all of this? We both are taking ballroom dancing 2-3 days a week. We’ve learned everything from the Fox Trot, to the Hustle and Samba. It’s a blast, we both enjoy dancing and spending quality time together. The two of us still plan date nights and movie nights which keeps us centered and balanced.

What do you look forward to the most about being married?
We’ve been together for 4 years and have been living together for 2 of them so we’re looking forward to making our commitment to each other official. We know we want to spend the rest of our lives together, a marriage makes it more clear to everyone we know that we’re in love, committed and we’re in it for the long haul. We both look forward to purchasing our first home in the coming year, traveling more together to countries we haven’t been and eventually (not immediately by any means) when we feel more settled and ready, plan for a family. We’ll both be joining our names together (Clark Mendez) which feels like a strong unit.

Tell me a little more about how you decided to join your names instead of the traditional way of doing things? We’ll start off first by saying we think that what works for a couple is what’s most important in deciding to keep, add or change names. Our perspective is unique to our relationship and personal feelings. We both see that many of the elements that were historically considered natural and essential to marriage fade away. The married women of our elder’s generations at one point had no legal independent existence, couldn’t make contracts, maintain their names or have full ownership of property. Culturally there’s been a growing respect for individual freedom and equality among men and women. Our relationship (soon-to-be-marriage) is reflective of the times and this cultural shift. We both have decided to take Clark as a middle name and Mendez as a last name. This way neither of us will disappear from the databases or address books of our colleagues and good friends, but we still share a name that unifies us. This was the best decision for us.

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