They both say they met because fate brought them together. It was May 13, 2019. “Many things happened that led me to be at Elisabeth’s work on that morning,” Manny says. “As I sat in an exam room, I saw her turn the corner with her golden hair bouncing around. She seemed to be walking toward me in slow motion. All I could think of in that brief moment was that I knew she was going to be my wife.”
Elisabeth is an optometrist and Manny had brought his mother in for an eye exam. “It is fate alone that she happened to be scheduled with me,” Elisabeth continues the story. “I happened to be running late that day and was quite anxious as a result. I had to pass by the exam room they were in to get to the patient that I was scheduled to see first. I saw him sitting in the guest’s chair and I immediately became more anxious, because he was extremely good looking and I wanted to make a good first impression. He was very well dressed, wearing a navy button down with a small print polka-dot-like design. He looked like a professional and his features are striking. That is what I first noticed about him. When it was finally time for me to see his mother, I walked in and he stood to shake my hand and introduced himself as Manny. I began the exam and it was quickly apparent that his mother only spoke Spanish. I transitioned to doing the examination in Spanish and Manny seemed very surprised and interested in this. At the end of the exam, he asked me a little bit about how I learned Spanish. I was still in a rush, so I had to move on quickly. A bit later, I was walking down the hall to my next exam room. I saw him in the distance checking out at reception. He was not only looking at me, but was facing me. His feet were pointed at me. I remember seeing in an episode of New Girl that people point their feet at people they like, so I thought this was pretty funny. We looked at each other as I walked down the hallway. I remember keeping my smile small, because I needed to be professional. I eventually looked down when we got fairly close, then I turned into my next exam room to start with the next patient. I believe it was the next day that he sent me a friend request on Facebook. I thought about it hard for 24 hours, because I made it a point not to accept requests from people I met at the office. I made an exception for him because he was not actually my patient. We began to message over facebook chat and had so many of the important things in common.”
That first meeting in the clinic turned into a first date. “I was out of town the first weekend after we met,” Elisabeth says. “We did have a brief telephone call while I was in the airport. I remember he had a goofy sense of humor. After I returned, we had our first date the following Tuesday night on May 22. Manny picked me up at my house and took us to a restaurant in Mesilla that was called St. Clair Winery and Bistro. We had a lovely dinner. I can’t even remember what we talked about. I think it was clear that we both were having a wonderful time. The service was quite slow that night, but we didn’t really notice because we were enjoying each others company. The restaurant even gave us a free dessert in consolation, which was a bonus because we honestly didn’t care! When we left and got in his car, he went to answer a text message, I believe, and in doing so I saw that my name on our message chain was ‘Elisabeth Hottel Wife.’ We had only known each other for a week and it was our first date! I was glad to see that he was serious about the future of our relationship, and that let me know right away that we were both in this for the right reasons. It took all of the second guessing out of my head and made me immediately confident to keep moving forward with our relationship. I knew Manny was the one almost immediately. When we first began messaging, he referred to ‘in eighty years’ and ‘telling grandchildren.’ This totally took me by surprise, but it is exactly what I wanted and needed to hear. I was amazed that he was so upfront about his feelings and confidence in our future. I still slowed down in my mind because I wanted to make sure we were truly right for each other. It didn’t take long to know that for sure though.”
Manny says he knew she was the one immediately. “I knew she was the one when she was walking toward me [in the clinic]. We hadn’t even exchanged words, but I had a very strong feeling that she was the one.” I ask what he admires most about Elisabeth and he says, “She’s very kind to the world.” Which, in my short time knowing them, seems absolutely true. Elisabeth is a genuine soul who bubbles over with happiness. Together, her and Manny make a formidable team of calm and peace. They never considered postponing their wedding due to the coronavirus and when hurricane force winds tore through Iowa the week of their wedding, they were completely calm about it, just excited to be married, even when the lack of power changed their hotel plans for them and all of their guests.
Elisabeth & Manny live in New Mexico so we did their engagement session shortly after they got into town for the wedding. We had such a beautiful (though buggy!) Friday evening to hang out before their Sunday wedding.