Sahar Javadi and Shahdy Ali-Hassan don’t like Valentine’s Day. They think it’s a cheesy Hallmark holiday that puts too much pressure on too many people. As Sahar puts it, “It’s just stupid.” So when she figured out that Shahdy, her boyfriend of two years, was going to be on company business in Brazil on February 14, 2007, she didn’t care . . . right?
“I was really mad,” says Sahar. “I knew he had my engagement ring. We went shopping for it in November. So at this point all I’m thinking about are opportunities for him to propose.”
She had been sure he was going to do it over New Year’s in Houston, at her brother’s house, in front of her parents. Nope.
In January, when she had to go to Los Angeles on a work trip and Shahdy said he would meet her out there, her hopes rose again. Shahdy, however, hadn’t even brought the ring along.
“At that point, I concluded that the trip thing is not Shahdy’s deal,” Sahar says. “He needs to be in his comfort zone, at home, I told myself, and he probably has his own little place in DC where he wants to do it.”
Shahdy’s trip to Brazil lined up almost perfectly with Carnival—his two weeks of work ended right when the festival was starting—so he convinced Sahar to buy a ticket to meet him down there. She was psyched about Carnival, but her mom told her not to think about anything else. If Shahdy hadn’t taken the ring to LA or Houston, he wasn’t going to risk lugging it around Rio de Janeiro.
Of course not. He kept it in the hotel safe.
After four days of sightseeing and beach-hopping with friends, and not even hinting at a proposal, he stunned Sahar at the top of Corcovado Mountain in front of the giant Christ the Redeemer statue, which was just named one of the new seven wonders of the world, while gazing out onto a view of the entire city. Their friends Gustavo and Roberta had disappeared, and Sahar, having seen the view and snapped her pictures already, was itching to leave. And then:
“I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ ” Shahdy says. “She said, ‘What?’ ”
Then: “What do you mean?”
Then: “Are you serious?”
Then, finally: “Yes!”
“I hadn’t seen the ring for three months, so my first thought was ‘Oh!’ ” Sahar says. “My next thought was ‘Oh, my God, do Gustavo and Roberta know you were going to do this?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, they knew.’ I said, ‘Do my parents have any idea?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, they know.’ I was totally overwhelmed.”
After making a slew of international phone calls to their friends, Shahdy surprised Sahar again—with a ritzy eight-course tasting menu at a restaurant owned by the Brazilian president’s chef.
The couple, who are having their wedding at the end of March, decided on a small Muslim ceremony at Sahar’s parents’ house, with a big reception the next day at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna.
For now, the view from the top of Corcovado is the wallpaper on both of their computers.
"I waited so long for him to propose, and then that trip I wasn't even thinking about it," says Sahar. “The whole thing was just surreal.”
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