Love can bloom in the most unusual of places. For Olivia and Stephen that place was the break room at San Jose State University where Olivia was doing her post-graduate studies and Stephen was her chemistry tutor. “Instead of love at first sight, I’d say this was friends at first sight,” explains Olivia. She continues, “Stephen’s comical, yet highly informative, illustration of a nephron as a dragon cemented our friendship which eventually grew into a lasting love.”

On what initially Olivia believed would be a rather average hiking trip at Point Reyes National Seashore, she and Stephen stopped at Cypress Tree Tunnel for some prime picture taking opportunities. “As usual, we took some jumping pictures with our GoPro. On the final jump, he said, ‘Look over there,’ and as I turned around, he was taking a small red box out of his pocket and getting down on one knee,” Olivia recalls. “All sorts of emotions were running through me as I was looking into his eyes while he was saying the sweetest words.”

The couple spent their year-long engagement planning their wedding as a couple, sidestepping the cliché of the overstressed and micromanaging bridezilla by working together to make their vision come to fruition. “Thankfully, Stephen was there with me every step of the way. Any time I was stressed or had an idea I needed help to elaborate on, or needed to make hard decisions or just needed something to take my mind off of wedding planning, Stephen was always there for me,” Olivia says. 

The bride says, “We both wanted to make sure that during our wedding ceremony we said our personal vows and had some kind of unity ceremony.” This focus on their union being one of equals is the basis of their love and commitment to each other. Combining traditional elements from Filipino culture into their ceremony with a semiformal outdoor reception, Olivia and Stephen created a masterpiece of matrimonial festivities. The bride recalls, “Our vision of a weekend celebration of love came to life, and we had the time of our lives.”

Wedding planning and all of the decision- making that has transpired since they tied the knot, from choosing where and when to travel, to whether or not they are ready to expand their family, has highlighted that their unity and commitment to one another is important, now more than ever. “We have learned how we both can get stressed at different things, and we deal with it in different ways,” Olivia says. “We have arguments, we have disagreements, but together we come out stronger when we discuss and solve the situation.” 

—Abigail Blank