Monica and Kevin have known each other since high school, so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment they met. “If I had known at the time he would one day become my husband I may have paid more attention,” she says. “When you’re 15 years old, you don’t think about things like future husbands or weddings, or at least I didn’t.”

Fast forward through other relationships, lost contact and a number of years in between. Kevin was ready to get serious about his next relationship. “I wanted someone who was smart, loyal and had a good sense of humor—someone I could build a life with. The first person that popped into my head was Monica,” he says.

Kevin took the risk and sent Monica a text, hoping she still had the same number she had when they were teenagers. She replied, “Kevin who?” but remembered him right away. The friendship was rekindled immediately. However, Kevin would have to wait, as Monica was in another relationship.

Kevin was there for her as that relationship ended. But he knew he couldn’t wait to tell her how he really felt. After taking about 48 hours to perfect his message, he asked her that when she was ready to date again that maybe she could consider him.

She was flattered but feared losing their friendship. After some time, she realized how special he is. “Several of my girlfriends told me I was crazy for not considering Kevin as boyfriend material. I reached out and asked him when he was going to finally take me out on a date, as if I wasn’t the one who kept him waiting,” she says. “I jumped on the opportunity right away and told her I’d see her that weekend,” remembers Kevin.

It didn’t take long for both to know this was it. After two years of dating, Kevin proposed during a surprise getaway to Safari West in Santa Rosa. “Looking back, it was nice to keep it a secret just for a couple days while we enjoyed each other’s company and took in all the sights Safari West had to offer,” she says. “As soon as we left and had cell phone reception, I began my phone calls and video chats with my close friends and my mom to tell them the great news.”

Thinking of her love of Halloween and autumn, they planned for a fall wedding. They had their date, they had the venue, and they were ready to make it a fun night for their friends and families.

One thing they did not anticipate was the nearby wildfires. “If there was a fire going on, it was in a place our loved ones and families lived. Even though this was such a tragedy and several family members in Santa Rosa lost their homes, they still managed to make it to our wedding.” she says. “It is times like these you can see who your true friends are and what people are willing to do for the ones they love. I will always be grateful to them for showing up on my special day and making my wedding so wonderful.”

—Kourtney Jason