By Henry V. Thiel
Photos by Biyani Photography
“Margarita and I met about four years before we began dating,” confesses Jessica Frinsco. “Our paths had crossed numerous times at social and community functions, where we mostly conversed in pleasantries. Then when we had to discuss volunteer logistics for an upcoming charity event, we decided to do it over dinner.
“I arrived first for our dinner meeting at the Empire Café, where I took a seat at a table on the patio,” she continues. “When I heard someone call my name, I quickly and awkwardly stood up and just stared at Margarita as she walked toward me with the most dazzling smile I’ve ever seen. You know, the kind of smile that makes you weak in the knees. All I could hear was my heart pounding, and all I could feel were the butterflies hatching in my stomach. ‘What the heck was happening?’ I asked myself. I did my best to gather my composure—and failed.
“We both stood there for a minute, staring at each other with goofy grins, then extended arms for a ‘casual friend’ hug, which was electric!” adds Frinsco, a 33-year-old administrator for a local school district.
Frinsco and Margarita Perez, a 31-year-old director of advancement at UH’s Cullen College of Engineering, spent the next three hours in rapt attention, their conversation punctuated with exchanges of smiles that served as catalysts for random acts of blushing. That upcoming charity event remained as untouched as their food, and they ended up being one of those tables that restaurant workers hate—a couple so wrapped up in themselves they don’t even get the hint when a mop is being pushed around their table. One of the staff finally interrupted them.
“Sorry to interrupt your date, but we are closing.”
“We aren’t on a date!” they both exclaimed. In unison. Then they decided to meet again for dinner to actually talk business.
At least they had the best of intentions.
“Three months before our first vacation, Jessica and I [secretly] bought engagement rings for each other. How we managed to keep it a secret for that long, I’m not sure,” shares Perez. “After an exciting day visiting Old San Juan, Jessica took me on a dinner date to Pamela’s Caribbean Cuisine, which she had planned before we left Houston,” she recalls. “We got all dolled up and headed out. I was wearing a Betsey Johnson cotton navy blue dress with hot-pink sandals, and Jessica was wearing a Brooks Brothers light-blue blouse and jeans. Yes, we looked pretty hot!
“At Pamela’s, we were seated at a table on the beach, decorated with a beautiful rose-and-lily arrangement and a bottle of champagne, which was backlit by several tiki torches. And I just started gushing about how romantic the entire setting looked,” Perez says. “It was just so breathtaking. I remember Jessica laughed nervously when I snapped a photo of her. She then reached for my hand and asked, ‘Do you remember you asked me to be your girlfriend?’” She chuckled sweetly.
“You asked me if I would allow you to love and cherish my heart as long as I would let you, and now I would like to ask you if you will let me love and cherish your heart forever,” recalls Frinsco. Then she dug into her pocket and pulled out a small lined shell with a gorgeous rose-and-white-gold diamond ring nestled inside. She got down on one knee as Perez instinctively stood up. “Will you marry me?” asked Frinsco.
“I burst into ugly-face crying,” Perez exclaims.
Frinsco finally had to ask, “So is that a yes?”
“I decided that this was the moment to ask Jessica to be my wife,” Perez almost whispers. “So I excused myself and quickly ran to the concierge to ask her to find Jessica’s engagement ring, which I had hidden in our room.”
At the end of the meal, their waitress-turned-treasure-hunter placed a long white plate adorned with a single white rose with the engagement ring nestled in the center petals in front of Jessica. When she looked down, she quickly did a double take, and began to cry. “You didn’t think you were the only one with a surprise?” asked Perez.
Frinsco and Perez were married on October 2, 2016, at The Lyceum in Galveston, officiated by the Rev. Dr. Michael Diaz, formerly of Resurrection MCC where the couple attends church.
“We were thrilled to make our vows to each other with the support of our family and friends,” states Frinsco, “and I will continue to choose Margarita as my love each and every day.”
“We selected The Lyceum because the setting reflected our commitment to each other in the eyes of God,” Perez explains softly. “It was special to hear that we were ‘legally married in the State of Texas’—a sort of triumphant and rebellious moment. Our love and marriage was equal.”
“One moment I will always cherish,” says Frinsco, “was when Margarita’s mom surprised us with a mariachi band that really got the party started, and a zapateado dance that included my little brother Clayton playing his guitar with the mariachis. The music transformed the wedding into a celebration, with a traditional Mexican hat dance with me and Margarita on the dance floor,” laughs Frinsco. Acadian Bakers catered the cake.
In March, the brides will honeymoon in Kauai, where they will spend a week exploring the beauty of the island.
“We chose Kauai because of its inclusiveness and lush environment,” Perez says. Then, with a slight twinkle in her voice, she adds, “And the opportunities to hike the secluded beaches!”
Henry V. Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist, a boutique public-relations company that works exclusively with chefs and restaurateurs. He loves Old San Juan and New San Juan equally. He’s that kind of guy.