Hernan Hernandez didn’t go to medical school looking for love, but as fate would have it, love found him. From day one, he had a good feeling about a girl in his class.
“I pointed her out several times to one of my best friends," he remembers. "I said, 'That’s the kind of girl I’d like to settle down for.'"
The girl in question was Melissa Gasper, 27, his now-wife. But he wasn’t the only one to take notice right off the bat. “I had a crush on him the first year, but I was too shy to talk to him,” she admits.
Hernan and Melissa started medical school in 2009 at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and a group project during their first year brought them together. By year two, they were a couple.
The following years were tough, with the grueling pace of medical school and worrying about whether they’d be matched for their respective residencies in the same city, or even the same state.
Even though they could both see a future together, it was hard to make decisions with their professional futures hanging in the balance. But again, with fate (and brains) on their side, both Hernan and Melissa were matched at University of Nebraska.
“We had our fingers crossed for a full year,” Hernan, 27, recalls. “It wasn’t until I found out that we matched at Nebraska, that there weren’t any more issues, that I knew we’d be in the same town for several years, that I decided to propose. I decided right after match day, and I planned to do it graduation weekend when both of our families were here.”
Melissa knew the big question was looming, and had hoped it would come the night before graduation at a big dinner with their families. When it didn’t happen that night, she nearly lost hope.
“I was crushed. I thought, 'It’s never gonna happen!'" she remembers. "I really thought it would happen then. So I put it out of my mind.”
But the very next day at a post-graduation party, after a long, nervous and rambling speech, Hernan got down on one knee and proposed.
Melissa always wanted a fall wedding, and that’s just what she got. She and Hernan were married on November 23, 2013, a 20-degree day with snow on the ground.
The ceremony was held at their church, Saint Margaret Mary in Omaha, and was performed by Father Baxter. And Melissa was surprised by her emotional state: “I was basically on cloud nine the whole ceremony. I thought I would be an emotional wreck. But I was just grinning ear to ear the whole ceremony.”
A mariachi band played traditional Catholic wedding music throughout the ceremony, much to the delight of the bride, groom and all of their guests.
After the ceremony, the wedding party hopped on a trolley bound for a photo session at a local park, but Hernan decided to make a last minute detour to his old Phi Chi fraternity house — a photographer's dream, with its vintage furnishings and interior.
“It’s a turn of the century mansion in Omaha’s historical district," he says. "I lived there for four years with my best friends throughout med school.”
He also serves as the president of the fraternity’s alumni association, so, “It was a very special thing to have as part of our wedding day.”
The reception was held at DC Centre in Omaha, and their 200 or so guests enjoyed dancing to music provided by a DJ, delicious food and a multi-flavored cake. But for Melissa, the highlight was Hernan’s speech.
“I wish I could remember the words he said, but it was just really sweet," she says. "My uncle started crying. So many people were really touched. He talked about how he didn’t really know what he was missing until he met me.”
After the wedding, it was right back to work for the busy medical residents. They took a family trip to Mexico in February — what they’ve dubbed a “familymoon” — and hope to take a trip of their own as soon as life and medicine allow.