The dating app Hinge brought Melissa and Mark together. After many late night brief texts, they finally met in West Hollywood at the sultry romantic restaurant Ysabel. Please see their first text conversations at the wedding - ha ha! Mark was an accidental swipe after Melissa quickly swiped on this dating app only late at night when she couldn't sleep. His witty and sweet texts made her decide to go meet him in person, but she almost cancelled a few hours before due to a busy schedule.
When she arrived, Mark was sitting on a couch waiting and they quickly hugged upon meeting. After a long fun dinner of conversation, Melissa felt like she may never see him again because she talked too much, and she was leaving the next day to work in NYC for a month. She thought he was cute and nice, and was so happy she didn't cancel because he seemed so normal. She had no idea he lived in Malibu and was so surprised he had made the drive to West Hollywood for a first date. Mark asked her out again for the one and only day she was back in LA.
For their second date, they returned to Ysabel with its twinkly lights and chic outdoor California cool vibes. They laughed, and shared plates of yummy food. Melissa left the next morning for another month, this time to travel to Thailand and Myanmar. As the date ended, Mark walked her to a car across the street. He kissed her on the cheek and she may have jumped a foot (since she was scared, a bit nervous, and wasn't expecting a kiss). Later, Mark admitted he thought it was sexy she didn't valet. Ha!
Melissa returned the day before Christmas from near-death adventures in Myanmar, and was happy to be alive and back in LA. Mark and Melissa planned a third date, this time in Malibu the day after Christmas. Melissa drove to the MaliBU, excited to return to her favorite escape, a place she always called "her church." When Melissa arrived, she was surprised at how clean and hip Mark's place was in eye of the water, and was greeted by Mark with a blanket and bottle of Veuve inside a yellow case, all prepared for a sunset walk on the beach. The left their shoes behind as they walked several miles and plopped down right in front of Farrah Fawcett's former home with Ryan O'Neil. As they popped champagne, traded stories, and sipped bubbly, Mark planted a kiss on Melissa that she would never forget. Losing track of time, the sun set and temperatures dropped. They made their way back towards Mark's home in the dark and freezing cold sand on the beach. Shaking and shivering, Mark boiled water in two giant tubs so Melissa could warm her feet up before her drive home to West Hollywood.
After Melissa left and cranked the heat in her car to 90, Mark took a hot shower (and the next day learned he had hypothermia). Melissa still wasn't sure if she would hear from him again, or if he was able to de-chill his body. A call the next day let her know he was alive.
The kiss that cold December 26 on the beach at sunset ignited the passion, and these two were inseparable ever since, SO MUCH so, that Melissa moved in with Mark and left West Hollywood behind 6 months later. In a little over a year, they got engaged in Tulum at sunrise.
Dates continued ...fun new restaurants, live music, the new Broad art museum downtown, hikes, long beach walks, cooking, spa time, and beach bubbly. In January 2016 Mark whisked Melissa away to his favorite desert getaway, Two Punch Palms where they stayed in Al Capone's old hideaway. Their weekend was filled with massages, mud baths, mineral springs soaks, green mud facials, healthy brunches, wine, roses, rose petals, candlelight, tennis in robes, kissing in the rain in the desert, sunsets, and basically #ROBESforDays! They will always remember their weekend in Two Bunch Palms as where they kicked off their relationship.
I text "I'm sorry" from bed, but the text never sent. Curled up in soft sheets with a new appreciation for luxury, I felt a sickness I hadn't felt before coupled with exhaustion. The queasiness of Cuba lingered on and my first night in Tulum was not as I imagined. The waves were pounding right outside our room at El Pez Hotel, and I just left my boyfriend Mark at dinner when the food arrived. His expression when I stood up was one I had never seen, like a combination of shock, disbelief, and disappointment. "I'm so sorry. I have to go lay down. I feel so ill." How could I be crawling back to bed to lie down while music flowed and fresh grilled octopus just arrived in this rustic gorgeous breezy restaurant in Tulum, Mexico?
The next morning the blinds were pulled open to wake me up for sunrise. The constant birds diving outside our room with the pounding surf was hypnotic, and I longed to not move and stare at the sea. Mark had repeatedly talked about seeing the sunrise the second morning in Tulum, so I knew this was important. I mustered every ounce of energy to throw on my three quarter length sweats and the only other warm clothing I brought for two weeks, a black throw wrap.
Mark held my hand as we jumped onto the sand and started towards the rocks outside El Pez. As my eyes started to open through the cold blustery wind I noticed Mark looked so nice, especially for a freezing sunrise. He was not in surf shorts. "OMG! You look like you are going to dinner!" I screamed. This was the first time I wasn't in something cute. As we climbed the rocks with the sea hugging us on all sides, I saw the jagged dark outline of shadows on the top of the rock. My mind was still cascading with Cuban images. I screached, "Is that a dead cat?" Thankfully no swollen dead cat like we saw on the streets of Havana, but a beautiful assortment of roses with colorful pillows, and a tea and coffee setup. The poem Mark had written me last was laying on the top of the rock with a frame of a photo I had taken at El Pez that said Melissa and Mark, February 18, 2017.
Tears started to stream down my face because I thought we might be getting officially "hinged." I had hoped, but knew there was no way he could bring a diamond to Cuba or Mexico in our bags. Great accepting trusting calm love had taken a long time and could the man I adored and only known for a little over a year be ready to commit to spend a life with me? My doubts about long lasting unconditional love were always creeping. They were there even after I heard "I love you" within a month.
We held each other on top of that jagged uncomfortable rock as the wind whipped, the waves fiercely crashed, and pelicans flew in unison while unexpectedly diving deep for sustenance. As we waited for the sun to rise, we changed positions, laughed, kissed, kept each other warm, and tried to sip tea, but it was so windy it was impossible. As the colors started to stream and pop out from the horizon, Mark changed positions on that rock and had me stand up, and that is when he got down on one knee. Happy tears continued and all I remember saying was, "You know I would have married you after the first month."
Those beautiful words on that rock have faded, but not in my heart. More tears of joy continued that sweet morning, and we kissed and held each other surrounded by the violent but romantic sea surrounded by dive bombing birds. Mark slipped on my finger a wooden ring with turquoise and silver that he designed with wood from my birth month. "You got me a coconut ring!" I kept saying. A perfect travel ring for my wandering heart.
When I saw you I fell in love
and you smiled because you knew
The moment I looked into your eyes I was lost,
and would never be the same again.
I have loved you for 460 days,
and I will love you for a million more.
Little did I know Mark had hired a photographer (Melissa Mercado Photography from Playa del Carmen) who documented our whole morning from the shore like the paparazzi. After our sunrise, I freshened up and threw on a white cover-up for a fun little photo shoot at El Pez, part of the Colibri Boutique Hotels. We toasted champagne with our photographer Melissa and thanked her for capturing our engagement. Now I call this trip our "engagemoon".
Time sails on so fast. How can we hold on to a moment forever? I hope to keep that memory alive by writing it here. It's been a little over a month and I want our engagement morning to happen again and again and again.
A couple weeks later when we returned home from Tulum, Mark slipped a sparkly ring on my finger at sunset in Malibu, another ocean where our hearts beat with the rhythmic waves. Home.
"She knew she loved him when 'home' went from being a place to a person."
Valet provided. We encourage you to take Uber or Lyft. Take the elevator or stairs up to the second floor. You won't miss the massive deck space overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Nobu Malibu, and SoHo House "Little Beach House" Malibu.
Time: Noon - 6 pm
Please be there no later than 12:30. Vows and ceremony will take place soon after.
For out of town guests and family, sip a cocktail on the ocean with us and wait for the sunset splash with views of the Malibu pier.