Two Lovebirds Sitting in a Tree

Milena and her fiance Aaron, engaged in February, passionately look into each other's eyes during a special evening four years ago at Dana Point.

Milena and her fiance Aaron, engaged in February, passionately look into each other's eyes during a special evening four years ago at Dana Point.

Most 21-year-old girls in Southern California are planning a trip to Vegas with their girlfriends, counting down to graduation day or worrying about what happens after graduation. Move back in with mom and dad?  Go to grad school?  Find a “real” job?

While I too am planning a trip to Vegas, looking forward to graduation and wondering how I can do what I love while supporting myself, I am also planning my wedding – not in the way we planned our weddings when we were 13 years old, picking out the wedding gowns with no concept of a budget. I am planning a real wedding.

When Aaron proposed to me as the sun went down on Feb. 13, 2010, I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. But I had Aaron promise me one thing: he would have to talk with my mom and tell her his plan.

My mom is a hard-working, smart and successful woman with her own strong opinions.  She and my dad met at UCLA, moved in with each other and got married while they still were in school. Years later, after having two kids, they got divorced. Growing up with my mom, I have clearly learned her opinions on marriage: “Don’t get married until you’re at least 24 because your brain isn’t fully developed.”

I met Aaron the summer before my senior year of high school. I was 17 years old, and he was turning 20 in the beginning of September. Within months of becoming friends, we fell in love. We knew, long before he proposed, that we wanted to marry each other. He gave me a promise ring before Christmas of my sophomore year in college. Some people anxiously asked when we were ever going to get married while others, like my mom, questioned, “What’s the rush?”

I said I wanted to be done with school before we get married, which was my only requirement. Aaron could ask for my hand whenever he wanted, but our wedding would be after graduation.

Eight days after I turned 21, we were engaged. The first person I called was my mom. He had met with her the day before at a local coffee shop to ask for her blessing. After putting the ring on her own finger and listening to what he said, she said yes. It meant the world to me to know that she would be okay with me marrying young.

My fiancé and I are Christians and some people assume we’re marrying young because of that.  But we aren’t getting married because of our religion. We’re getting married because we want to. Why wait when we had already made up our minds?

Most 21-year-olds use Facebook as a distraction from studying for finals or a way to spend some free time. This last quarter, my study breaks were spent on registries and browsing on TheKnot.com … and I loved every second of it.