By Henry V. Thiel
Photos by Robert Lopez, Dabert Photography
Shawnee Sprenger met her future wife, Xiomara, back in the sixth grade while attending a mutual friend’s birthday party at Landry’s on the Kemah Boardwalk. Even though they both attended Pin Oak Middle School, this was the first time the classmates had met. As fortune would have it, they sat next to each other and became best friends over fries and birthday cake.
“From that day forward, we never left each other’s side,” confesses Sprenger.
To their great disappointment, they ended up going to different high schools and lost touch, only to reconnect via Facebook the summer after their senior year.
“I was so nervous when I messaged her via Facebook on my birthday,” shares Sprenger with glee in her voice. “She replied the next day, and we picked up where we left off.”
“I asked her a few days later to hang, so we did,” adds Xiomara, who had been nicknamed “Z” by friends during her high-school years.
“I had never dated a girl,” admits Sprenger, “but there was always this feeling that I couldn’t explain.”
A few months later, their relationship turned serious while attending Vans Warped Tour, the longest-running touring rock music festival in North America. “While we were jamming to the music, Z embraced me by wrapping her arms around my waist from behind. From that moment,” adds Sprenger, “we both knew things were going to be different.
“After the festival we went and hung out by the pool. While eating hot fries together in the pool, Z asked me if I wanted to try being in a relationship with her,” says Sprenger. “I of course said yes!”
By summer’s end, school again separated the couple, with Xiomara moving to Huntsville to attend Sam Houston State University and Sprenger starting at Houston Baptist University. For a year, they commuted back and forth until Sprenger was able to transfer. They graduated together in 2013, moved back to Houston, and started a life together with their two dogs and a cat.
“We started talking more about our future together, and getting excited about what adventures we would take,” says Sprenger.
Today, the 25-year-old medical assistants work in the Houston Medical Center, where Xiomara is currently training to become a physician’s assistant.
“We both knew that we were soul mates, and ready to write our story together,” states Xiomara.
“I started looking for rings a year later, and finally found the one,” shares Sprenger. “I didn’t want to order it online without seeing it in person, but the only store that sold the ring I wanted, Brilliant Earth, was located in San Francisco.”
“We were going to meet family in Vegas a couple months before our sixth-year anniversary,” Xiomara says, “so I surprised Shawnee with the idea of driving to San Francisco to see the ring. We ended up driving eight hours straight, and immediately fell in love with the ring.”
“Z ended up buying the ring,” says Sprenger as she fondles the ring on her left hand. “I couldn’t take my eyes off it!”
“For an early birthday present, Z took me to Panama City Beach, Florida, for a long weekend,” shares Sprenger. “On May 31, she took me out on a boat in the bay, and proposed at sunset. The whole weekend was so romantic!”
“On our sixth-year anniversary as a couple,” says Sprenger, “we went back to Landry’s in Kemah where we first met all those years ago, to celebrate over lunch. Z saw a banner for the FantaSea yacht that was docked at the boardwalk, so we went and checked it out.”
“We fell in love with the FantaSea,” says Xiomara.
“We chose the Boardwalk FantaSea Yacht as our wedding venue because Heather, the wedding planner, was so accepting and excited for us, and it just so happened the yacht is owned by Landry’s, which is where we first met,” adds Xiomara.
They chose July 3, 2016, because that was the anniversary of their first date.
“We had the captain of the FantaSea marry us, and our wedding was anything but traditional,” admits Xiomara. “We wanted the day to be about the promise we were making to each other, and about having our closest friends and family there to celebrate with us.”
“The two highlights of the day—after actually marrying my wife—would have to be our first dance as a married couple, and my father-daughter dance,” Sprenger remembers. “The day went by so fast that I wish I could go back and re-live it. Everyone who was there truly made it a special day—the yacht crew, florist, wedding planner, photographer (our brother-in-law), baker, and our amazing family and friends.”
After the wedding, the brides enjoyed an amazing night in Hotel Icon’s Oriental Penthouse Suite. “I couldn’t have asked for a better night,” affirms Xiomara. “Everyone, from the FantaSea to the hotel, was all so open and welcoming. It made our day that much more amazing. When the hotel staff saw us walk in with our gorgeous wedding dresses, they surprised us with a wedding gift and card congratulating us on the occasion. It was surprising how open and progressive everyone was about us. It was the perfect day.”
“Due to the fact that I ended up getting a new job before our wedding,” says Sprenger, “we pushed our honeymoon back to the fall. We love to travel, so we are still thinking about where to go. I can assure you, it will be somewhere we’ve never been, and somewhere overseas.”
Henry V. Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist. He loves yachts.