Engaged: Jessica Serna & Ismail Mpiana

The Couple

A recreational soccer game on campus brought Jessica Serna and Ismail Mpiana to a head. Literally—they both tried to head the ball at the same time. Naturally, Ismail—who is six-foot-one, compared to Jessica’s five-foot-four—won the ball, and Jessica fell to the ground. They teased each other about that game for weeks, and began bumping into each other on campus. “Before that day I had never seen him,” says Jessica. “But after that I would see him everywhere!”

Both Jessica and Ismail graduated from UT Dallas, where she studied psychology and he studied mechanical engineering. They share a love for exploring Dallas, superhero movies, traveling cross-country—and, of course, the sport that brought them together.

The Proposal

After three years of dating, Ismail began to plan an elaborate proposal. Since they enjoy traveling, he told Jessica he wanted to plan a getaway weekend for her birthday. On August 5th, he took her Rockwall, where they spent the day swimming (Jessica’s favorite activity) and visiting a local winery. As the sun began to set, he took her to a lighthouse surrounded by locks, similar to the lock bridge in France. Ismail took out a lock with the first picture they ever took together, and they locked it onto the lighthouse before climbing aboard a sailboat that was docked nearby. They made it to the front of the boat, where they had front row seats of the view, and Ismail pulled out a picnic basket with wine and cheese. They began sailing into sunset: “wind in my hair, wine in my hand,” Jessica recalls.

But as the boat started to turn, he made Jessica stand up for “pictures.” Instead, he handed her a bear with a backpack. Inside was a handmade book filled with their stories together. “Next thing I know, he’s talking about our relationship and gets on one knee,” Jessica says.

She was so shocked that she started crying—but of course, she said yes—and a hidden photographer came out and took their pictures. When they landed back on the dock, there was one last surprise: an engagement party with their friends and family at a restaurant nearby.

The Wedding

The couple will wed on May 5, 2018 in the Bishop Arts District.

—Abbey Bowling

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