It was an afternoon and evening that Liza Pope would later remember as a “beautiful romantic fairytale.” There was the carriage tour of Paris, a horse-drawn circuit from the base of the Eiffel Tower and back again. There were the gardens, and the roses—a field full of them. There was nightfall in the city of love, a gazebo, and a view. There was a poem read and a tear very nearly shed.
The possibility of a proposal was not absent from her mind, Pope said. Friends had wondered whether the Parisian visit might not make a fine occasion for her boyfriend of nearly six years, Michael P. Silvestri ’10, to pose the question. But in the midst of a magical night, she urged herself to stay grounded. “He asked me to sit on his knee and he can’t get on one knee if I’m sitting on his knee, so there’s no way he’s going to propose,” she thought.
And then it happened. The ring—quietly purchased months earlier and stashed in a sock drawer in Switzerland during a summer-long internship—was produced from inside a camera case. On one knee after all, Silvestri made his proposal. The answer? “Absolutely.”
The couple is to be married on July 10 in Wellesley, Mass., half a world away from the garden where the engagement began, but only minutes from the town of Natick, where Silvestri and Pope met for the first time, as freshmen in high school. The first date was the following year—a group trip to go see a movie. He offered to pay for her ticket, she held his hand.
“The thing is, you’re going out with somebody before you have a driver’s license,” Silvestri recalled. “Our first quote-unquote dates were our folks driving us to each other’s houses.”
College brought a lucky arrangement for the high-school sweethearts when, after pursuing the application process independently, Silvestri was admitted to Harvard, where he would complete an economics degree and row for the lightweight varsity crew team, and Pope to Boston University, giving the couple a valuable proximity that Pope credits with helping her and her fiancée stay involved in each other’s communities.
Following the wedding, Silvestri plans to make a few visits to South Africa as he helps to establish a tutoring program there and to develop water purification technology in a continuation of a project begun with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ David Edwards. Much of the work for both projects will be conducted from Boston, where he and Pope will be living. Silvestri will begin work at Oliver Wyman next January. Pope will work with her Christian ministry at Boston University before entering the Teach For America corps.
The response to the impending union has been positive, said Silvestri, who called Pope’s parents while she was on a plane, already en route to Paris, to ask their permission.
“I think naturally it’s surprising to people that two 22-year-olds are getting married right after college because a lot of people are thinking about where they’re going to go professionally after graduation, so I basically tell them that that stuff is still there,” Silvestri said of the feedback from friends. “This isn’t the end to our lives—we just want to unite them and go through the rest of them together.”
—CHRISTIAN B. FLOW