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A Surprise-Party Wedding

Juan Lerma and Marvin Fuentes hosted an impromptu backyard ceremony with their family and friends.

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Juan Lerma (l) and Marvin Fuentes (photos by Eddie Morales Lopez)

Juan Fernando Lerma and Marvin Yovani Fuentes didn’t get off to what you’d call a smashing start. They met through a mutual friend in  2016 at Rich’s, where they initially got off on the wrong foot.

At the end of the night, Juan saw Marvin coming out of the club. “I decided to approach him and pull him to the side for a chat,” Juan recalls. “After some one-sided banter from me, somehow he ended up giving me a ride home, which he was not too happy about.” 

Once he was safe at home, Juan decided to finish the night by sending Marvin a not-so-nice “Thank you for the ride home” message on Facebook.

Two weeks went by, and Marvin still hadn’t replied. Then they crossed paths again at a chicken-and-waffles house, which also left Marvin with a bad impression.  

Marvin finally replied to Juan’s Facebook message four weeks after they met, and they decided to go out for a glass of wine that same night. “After that, we spent the next few months seeing each other almost every single day,” Juan says.   

Juan knew Marvin was the one on that first wine date. For Marvin, the moment came when he realized just how attentive Juan is. “One evening I really wanted a pint of ice cream, but I was sure we didn’t have any.” That’s when Juan surprised him with a pint of Marvin’s favorite ice cream. 

Juan thinks of just about everything when it comes to Marvin’s happiness. “I’d never experienced anything like it,” Marvin says. “In that moment, I realized I didn’t ever want to lose him from my life. So I chose to put a ring on it.”

It was Marvin who proposed to Juan on December 5, 2019. “I was initially planning something elaborate, but then I realized that Juan would want something simple and intimate,” Marvin says. “He didn’t know I was going to ask at all. I cooked a nice dinner that evening, and we had dinner and wine on our apartment balcony. [When the right moment came], I told him that I loved him and that I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and that I didn’t want to ever lose him. Then I got down on one knee and asked him to marry me. He was in complete shock and started crying. He said Yes!” 

What had started out on shaky ground quickly became an undeniable love affair. “Marvin is the modern-day Latin knight in shining armor,” Juan says, “coming in on a horse to whisk you away for love and adventure.” 

“And Juan walks in this world with such authenticity. He’s my constant among all the chaos,” Marvin adds. 

Juan is a graduate of the University of Houston and a finance advisor for Shell. He is from a small town in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and he came to Houston when he was just three-years-old. 

Marvin, a native Houstonian, is a graduate of the University of Houston, and a senior fuel programs compliance analyst at Trillium CNG, the renewable fuel arm of the Love’s Family of Companies. The couple currently lives in Houston’s Cottage Grove neighborhood near Memorial Park.

Their wedding ceremony on June 5, 2021 started out as nothing more than a dinner party in the backyard of Juan’s parents’ house. “It all happened when we planned to have one of our ‘Dinner with the Gays’ nights, dinners we do with a few close friends and our parents. It was going to be the first time we could all hang out after getting vaccinated,” Juan says.

Although Juan’s parents had originally planned the dinner for June 16, “The Pupusa Lady,” Mayra Rivera, was only available on June 5. “She has a setup that she brings to the party and makes the pupusas on the spot,” Marvin explains. 

Even though, at that point, June 5 was only three weeks away, the couple said “it just felt right” to surprise their dinner guests with a backyard wedding ceremony. After all, they had started dating on the 5th. They got engaged on the 5th. They signed for their new home on the 5th. “We kept the dinner very small, and the wedding was a surprise to almost everyone!” Juan recalls.

Their friend Rick Dickson officiated, and Rick’s husband, Luis Morales Lopez, translated the ceremony for their Spanish-speaking guests.

Getting to surprise their friends and family was the best part of the dinner party. “Seeing the looks on everyone’s faces was priceless,” Marvin says. “Luckily, no one choked on their pupusa.”

This article appears in the November 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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