(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – On the day they met, Vanessa Vega made quite the impression on the man who would become her fiancé.
"To be honest, I still remember what she was wearing that day," said Valentin. "She was wearing a white T-shirt and some khaki shorts."
"First initial reaction? I thought she was beautiful," he said.
But for Vega, Valentin was just another guy at the Somerville BBQ that day.
"I thought he was cute, but I was like he's not my type, " said Vega. "So it kicked off a friendship."
But to look back from where they are now, Vega is struck by how she could have missed her diamond in the rough.
"At the time, I didn't know he would be my prince charming – hopefully it's out there, you know," said Vega. "I wasn't looking for it at the time, but it's crazy now that I look back on it. I'm like, you look for love, but you never notice it until it comes and he was just always in the picture."
It was a few years later that their friendship blossomed into something more. So it was difficult to learn the news that Valentin was to be deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.
"It was kind of a point at which if I go away, will the relationship last? And will it make us stronger or grow apart?" said Valentin. "And it actually made us stronger, and that's when I knew she was the one."
"I think any person that's willing to put themselves on the line – woman or man for our country and for people that they don't even know, strangers that they've never even met – it's such an honor to even be a part of his life," said Vega.
As sure as they are of their relationship, there were uncertain times during Valentin's deployment. It was especially difficult for Vega when Valentin's missions kept him from contacting her.
"My mom's like no news is good news. So I just took it like that. That's how I took it. Sorry."
It was during this time, Valentin knew he wanted to propose. He e-mailed Vega's mom to ask for her hand and decided he would pop the question during his leave. Vega had plans too, she wanted a romantic dinner aboard the Spirit of Boston.
"That was the plan," said Vega. "Let me do something for him for once. It didn't turn out that way."
It didn't turn out that way because her mom showed up! Vega was not happy. But it was all part of Valentin's plan.
"We could actually flip it around so that she thinks she's surprising me, but I'm really surprising her – bringing the family along," said Valentin.
Valentin proposed, printing out the e-mail he had sent Vega's mom, asking for her blessing. Suddenly it became clear why mom had crashed the party.
"It was like a perfect moment and he had my family there and it meant a lot to me," said Vega.
Family is important to both of them. It's why Vega says she'd like to take the financial burden from them with a "Wedding to Remember."
"If we can just give them back a little bit of what they gave to us, for what they did for us forever," added Vega.
Whatever happens, Valentin says he's looking forward to the future.
"Starting our family, her being my wife, being the mother of my child too, it'll be a great experience."