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Their First Meeting Was Filled With Magic

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Magic was in the air the first time Michelle Navarro and Christopher Zegunis met. It was 10 a.m. on a Saturday in November 2016, and the two were the first arrivals for a class at the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Los Angeles.

“We started talking and I thought, he’s a cute guy,” Ms. Navarro said.

Their immediate connection developed during the next six weeks as they learned and practiced magic tricks together. “Crushes developed,” Ms. Navarro said.

On the last day of the course, Mr. Zegunis made his move. “I like this girl,” he said. “I should just ask her out.” He invited her for dinner at a gastro pub called Public School 310 in Culver City, Calif.

The date lasted all evening, as they moved on from the restaurant to a bar. “He was so much fun,” she said. “I was constantly laughing.”

Ms. Navarro, 39, a senior director of media services at the Fox Corporation, was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering. Mr. Zegunis, 53, a logistics coordinator at Toms Shoes, grew up in Rockford, Ill., and moved to Los Angeles 25 years ago.

They moved in together in Los Angeles, in August 2019, a few months before the coronavirus pandemic began. “That was a big test,” Mr. Zegunis said. “I never got tired. It was never like, ‘What did I get myself into?’ That’s probably when I realized this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Ms. Navarro said her commitment to Mr. Zegunis became clear to her when she realized how much she relied on Mr. Zegunis’s support in daily struggles, like work anxiety, but also during major periods of grief, like the death of her mother in 2019. “He was really there for me,” she said. “There was no hesitation. He was all in.”

Early on, the two bonded over their shared love of Disneyland. “It seems frivolous, but it’s a microcosm of our entire relationship and how aligned we are on so many things,” Mr. Zegunis said.

He described one of their early visits to the theme park, in June 2019, as one of “the single best times of my life.” Ms. Navarro called it “euphoric.”

“If you go to Disneyland with the wrong person, it can suck,” Mr. Zegunis said. “There’s a certain mind-set you have to have to do it right. There’s a certain hustle involved to make sure you’re getting on certain rides, there’s a strategy. We’re both so much in that mind-set.”

The two are regulars at the park now, visiting once or twice every year. It has become an even more special place since Mr. Zegunis’s proposal.

In April 2022, when he was at a magic show with Ms. Navarro, everybody in the audience was asked to write down a secret. Afterward, all the secrets were read aloud anonymously.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

“His was, ‘I’m going to propose to my girlfriend on her birthday,’ ” Ms. Navarro said. A month earlier, Mr. Zegunis had concocted a proposal plan and had written the secret down as a way of committing himself to the timeline, not expecting that it would be revealed. “It almost blew up in my face,” he said of his plan.

Luckily, he convinced Ms. Navarro that he’d written down a different secret: “I’m Batman.”

A few days before Ms. Navarro turned 38 that August, her grandmother died. Mr. Zegunis had already planned an elaborate series of events, including a surprise party and a magic show, to celebrate her birthday and to propose, but decided to hold off on the second part.

“I was calling our friends asking if I should go ahead with it, and my best man said to me, ‘Do you want the first place where she tells her friends and family she was engaged to be at her grandmother’s funeral?’”

Instead, he waited until they visited Disneyland two weeks later. During a photo shoot that Ms. Navarro had scheduled, Mr. Zegunis pulled out a diamond ring that had belonged to her mother, and with which she had wanted him to propose. He descended to one knee and asked Ms. Navarro to marry him. Afterward, they had a steak dinner at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, followed by drinks at the poolside bar with a few friends.

When it came time to choose the wedding location, there was no debate. “She told me authoritatively we’re getting married in Hawaii, and I was like, zero complaints,” Mr. Zegunis said.

Ms. Navarro’s love of the island goes back more than a decade. “In 2011, I traveled to Hawaii for work and fell in love with this village,” she said, referring to Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. “I was having dinners by myself and I thought one day it would be nice to come here with someone I love.”

Her wish came true, as 49 guests joined her and Mr. Zegunis for their wedding at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on June 23. The couple were married by Michaela Lehuanani Larson, an officiant licensed in the state of Hawaii. Mr. Zegunis will take Ms. Navarro’s last name.

The daughter of close friends, Grace Corbett, sang “Rest of My Life” by Bruno Mars as Ms. Navarro walked down the aisle in the resort’s gardens. “I love Bruno Mars, and my mom also loved him,” Ms. Navarro said.

Ms. Navarro incorporated various local elements into the celebrations. The welcome party featured a hula dancer and a ukulele performer, and during the ceremony, the bride and groom exchanged leis. At the reception, the buffet included kalua pig and poke, and the performers included Polynesian drummers and fire knife dancers.

“My mom passed away five years ago, and Hawaii was the place where we went for vacation,” Ms. Navarro said. “It will always have a special place in my heart.”

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