Perfect Together: Ashley & Mariza
It would be hard to find a more made-for-each-other couple than Ashley Schleusner and Mariza De Almeida, but if it hadn’t been for pushy friends they might never have met. The night they did, neither had felt like going out. It was their friends that pushed them to get out and meet new people at a local nightclub.
Standing on the ATM line, not far from each other, Ashley reached out first and introduced herself. “She told me her name and said she was from GA,” said Mariza. “I thought she was beautiful.”
Not that much later, they encountered each other again on the dance floor.
“She literally swooped in front of me,” remembered Ashley. “I was trying to look cool and I’m not cool.” Mariza recalls with a laugh that her swooping wasn’t intentional. She’d told her friend she was attracted to Ashley. So, she explains, “My friend had actually pushed me towards her.”
That moment was all it took. The rest of the night was magical. They danced and did karaoke together for a while, but eventually ended up outside sitting on the golf course adjacent to the club looking at the stars.
“We held hands,” remembers Mariza. “How cool is it that the first time we ever met, I held her hand?”
“I gave her my number in the parking log and twelve hours later she texted me,” said Ashley.
That night that they met was July 14, 2007.
Their love grew quickly and Ashley knew for certain that she’d begun to fall in love with Mariza. She explained, “If we were apart for more than half a day, I felt like I just wanted to kiss her. Her voice was so beautiful.”
There was one moment, though, when she knew for certain that Mariza was the woman she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
“I was having a difficult work week,” she said, “and Mariza texted to say she was at my place and when I arrived home she had gone and gotten groceries and then cooked me a beautiful Italian dinner.”
Mariza knew Ashley was the one, too, when they were in the car one day just driving around. She said, “It was a beautiful, sunny day on the West Coast of Florida. The sun hit her face and she has these beautiful hazel eyes and my heart was pounding and I just knew that I loved her.”
Neither have any difficulty describing what they believe is so special about the other.
Mariza explained that nobody has a heart as big as Ashley’s. “I’d had relationships before, but she makes me feel special every day, no matter whether it’s a good day or a bad day. She has a heart-of-gold.”
She added, “Sometimes, I ask Jesus if I really got this gift. I had prayed for this special person every single day.”
For Ashley, it was her heart that did it for her, too. “She is so kindhearted. She is the most selfless person I know in taking care of me and our three ‘babies,’ our cats.”
And about the beauty she sees in Mariza, she says, “I love her short hair and her cute little voice.”
Three months into their relationship, Mariza proposed to Ashley at Ashley’s parents house after they’d all had dinner. “I really loved that about her,” recalled Ashley, “that she respected me and my family.”
Though their wedding, which took place on their 10th Anniversary on July 14, 2017, at the oceanfront Sable Palm Resort in Fort Myers, Florida, was a blur of friends and family, a few special moments stood out.
Mariza remembers Ashley’s father walking her down the aisle, “I was so thankful to Jesus, I could hardly believe it was happening.”
“My favorite memory was having my dad there because he’s the only living parent among our three,” Ashley explained. “And when we were taking the photos with the 5 Star Production crew on the beach,” she added, “that was just a very memorable experience with Mariza and our families and friends.”
Theirs was an immediate love that just deepened with time. Thinking ahead to their eleventh anniversary this year, the couple would like to return to the same beach at the Sable Palm Resort and have a small dinner gathering with friends and family.”
“And we’ll go at precisely 7:14 at night on July 14,” joked Mariza.