Together at last: an AU love story
AU alumnus Serge Sarandinaki wanted his marriage proposal to be big, and that’s exactly what he got.
By the time he arrived at the Washington Harbor fountain with his girlfriend Ariel Rose, a crowd of over 300 people had caught wind of the proposal and gathered to watch. Sarandinaki glued pennies reading ‘Marry Me?’ on a glass sheet and placed the sheet in the water just hours before.
“My first thought seeing this ‘Marry Me?’ sign was, how did he get all the pennies to stay in one place?” Rose said, laughing.
Sarandinaki got down on one knee and in front of friends, family and well-wishing strangers, Rose said yes.
Their journey to that day wasn’t as straightforward, however.
The two first met as sophomores in the spring of 2010 through a mutual friend and kept in touch, but were seeing other people. By the end of senior year, though, they were both single and decided to give it a shot.
That first date was disastrous, they both said, and Sarandinaki would spend the next year trying to redeem himself.
“He goes to the bathroom part way through the date and this table next to us looks at me and goes, ‘Are you okay?’” Rose said about the night, which started with dinner at Cactus Cantina.
Shortly after their infamous first date, Rose left for Korea, where she taught English.
“Ariel was always the girl in college that I always wanted to date, but I never could,” Sarandinaki said.
The two managed to connect on Facebook, however, and started flirting over messages. Their online conversations became the highlight of their days, and the two became even closer despite living so far apart. When Rose’s grandfather died, she leaned on Sarandinaki for support.
“Serge was really, really there for me even though he was half a world away,” Rose said.
In April 2013, tensions between North and South Korea escalated and Rose left in the middle of the night after she became worried for her safety. Her mom and her best friend picked her up from the airport, and a couple days later she met up with Sarandinaki in D.C.
Two weeks after she returned, the two started dating. About a month later, Sarandinaki’s godmother suggested they both house-sit for her that summer.
“She said, ‘Serge, I trust you, but girls are more responsible than boys,’ so she asked Ariel to move in with me,” Sarandinaki said. “It was kind of like living together on training wheels.”
The training wheels came off in September when they got an apartment in Northeast D.C., as well as a black pug named Bruce ‘Batman’ Wayne. It had been almost three years since they first met, but less than a year since they started dating.
“Even a year ago today if you were to say, ‘You’re going to be marrying Ariel Rose,’ I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have laughed at you,” Sarandinaki said.
He started saving for the ring in July 2013 and bought it in March 2014 after asking Rose’s parents for permission. After a few different attempts, he finally settled on the perfect proposal.
“Being in a relationship with Ariel – I felt like I won the lottery with her,” he said. “She is absolutely wonderful and I have become a better person because of her, so I figured what is the best way to tie luck into it? Pennies.”
The two plan to get married in September 2015. Rose has been accepted into the masters program for Global Security at Johns Hopkins and Sarandinaki is pursuing a masters in public relations at George Washington while they both work full-time.
“I think we’re probably the definition of the young, urban couple,” Sarandinaki said.