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