Shortly after they began dating, Lina-Marie Mano and Andrew Silvestri started playing a game called 20 questions.
“We made individual lists of 20 questions that we could ask each other any time we wanted,” said Mr. Silvestri, 34, the head of data center public policy and community development at Google in Oklahoma City.
“We made a rule that no matter the question, we had to be totally honest with our answers,” he said. “It was a nice way to clear the air about a lot of things, or to simply learn new things, or to possibly come to know more about each other than we had previously known.”
Ms. Mano learned just how good Mr. Silvestri was at playing the game when he fielded her first question — “Do you prefer dating blondes or brunettes?,” a little too smoothly.
“Well,” he said, proceeding to burn a short, exaggerated stare at her long dark hair, “I definitely prefer brunettes.”
Ms. Mano wasn’t thrilled. “I guess I wasted that question,” she said.
Several other questions, especially those regarding past relationships, produced the kind of delicate answers that took the couple from frivolity to fragility.
“Those questions didn’t always go over so well, but that was the point,” said Ms. Mano, 35, the senior merchandise planner in fine apparel and couture collections for the Neiman Marcus Group in Dallas. “The whole idea was to create question-and-answer sessions that brought new information into our conversations,” she said, “or at the very least, added much more depth and insight to anything we chatted about. It was great.”
Ms. Mano and Mr. Silvestri met in Oklahoma City on Halloween in 2016. They were in a mutual friend’s backyard, where Ms. Mano, who then lived in Dallas, sat around a fire pit sipping wine with other guests.
Mr. Silvestri had just returned from a failed date, and began telling anyone within earshot, including Ms. Mano, all about it. “I was on a Bumble date, appropriately enough,” he said. “The plan was to go out for drinks and then to dinner, but midway through the date, we both knew it wasn’t going anywhere, so we decided to cut the evening short right then and there.”
After the woeful tale, he was introduced to Ms. Mano.
“Hey, are you single,” he asked, “Why don’t we go out?”
Ms. Mano recalled “laughing it off and then ignoring him.”
“I actually thought he was funny and very cute,” she added, “but I didn’t think he really meant what he said, because he lived in Oklahoma City and I lived in Dallas.”
Yet before going their separate ways, they both felt they had made an immediate connection, having spent a few hours telling stories and laughing with one another.
They began building a friendship via text messages, and began learning even more about each other.
Mr. Silvestri was born to a Mexican mother, Rosana Elias Silvestri, and an Italian father, Dr. Paul Silvestri, a psychologist, who lived in Tucson, Ariz. He told Ms. Mano that he graduated from Oklahoma Christian University and received a Master in Public Policy from Harvard.
Ms. Mano is a daughter of a French mother, Marie-Pierre Mano, and a Japanese father, Dr. Noriyuki Mano, an orthopedic surgeon, who lived in Orlando, Fla. Ms. Mano had graduated from Auburn University and received a master’s degree in international business at Grenoble Graduate School of Business in Paris.
“I was really more interested in her than she was in me,” Mr. Silvestri said. “But she was so beautiful and smart, and well worth pursuing.”
On Nov. 18 2016, Mr. Silvestri’s 31st birthday, he decided to call Ms. Mano and ask her to dinner. When her voice began to sputter, he said, “Come on, you can’t say no, it’s my birthday.”
She said yes, setting into motion a long-distance relationship that began with a first date at a restaurant in Oklahoma City. They were part of a larger group that night, all of whom heard Ms. Mano continually call Mr. Silvestri, “Alex,” the name of a mutual friend who was already a part of the group.
Mr. Silvestri laughed it off, as did Ms. Mano, and the next night, he took her to an Oklahoma City basketball game against the visiting Phoenix Suns.
“My big fear was that we were going to end up on the Kiss Cam,” Ms. Mano said. “Thankfully that didn’t happen.”
Kiss or no kiss, Mr. Silvestri said: “I fell for her pretty fast and pretty hard.
In January 2017, he asked her to be his girlfriend, and her response had them both laughing once more. “She told me that she would not officially become my girlfriend until we went on 25 dates,” Mr. Silvestri said. “So I started keeping track.”
Through chuckles, Ms. Mano denied issuing the 25-date edict, and began seeing Mr. Silvestri on a fairly regular basis.
One morning in March 2017, Ms. Mano and Mr. Silvestri began making plans for a trip to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, one of Mr. Silvestri’s favorite places.
“There is always such a hectic scene there,” he said. “But if you go around to the back of the memorial, which faces Virginia and the river, it’s like a different world, so peaceful and quiet.
“When I was in college, I always imagined bringing my future wife there,” he added.
On the day of the trip, Mr. Silvestri delighted in telling Ms. Mano that it just so happened to be Date No. 25, reminding her, as per their arrangement, that she was officially his girlfriend.
“I had no idea he was actually counting our dates,” Ms. Mano said.
[Sign up for Love Letter and always get the latest in Modern Love, weddings, and relationships in the news by email.]
They were soon walking hand in hand behind the Lincoln Memorial, where Mr. Silvestri told his newly minted girlfriend for the very first time that he loved her.
She returned the L-word immediately.
“When Lina came into my life, I was running around about 100 miles per hour, like a madman, always dealing with work or education-related issues,” Mr. Silvestri said. “But she centered my spirit, allowing me to calm down and refocus, and to realize that nothing is more important than family.”
Ms. Mano credited Mr. Silvestri “with kind of pushing me to be a more open and strong person.”
“I’m sort of shy,” she said, “but Andrew pushes me out of my comfort zone sometimes and allows me to have a voice.”
Two years later, in January 2019, the couple returned to the Lincoln Memorial, and this time, Mr. Silvestri dropped to one knee, and asked Ms. Mano Question No. 19 on his 20-question list: “Will you marry me?”
Then, in August 2019, Mr. Silvestri, the youngest of three children, was dealt a crushing blow when his mother died from complications of pancreatic cancer.
“Our getting engaged was a moment for us to really celebrate life and take advantage of family, then suddenly, my mom was not there to help us celebrate,” said Mr. Silvestri, beginning to cry. “It was just devastating.”
Ms. Mano, who has an older sister, said “losing his mother only made Andrew lean heavier on family.”
“If he’s not around family,” she said, “he’s usually trying to get family together.”
They were married July 25 at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center in Oklahoma City before 100 guests. The groom’s father, Paul Silvestri, who was ordained by Church of Christ, officiated. The coronavirus forced the couple to drop their original wedding date, March 21, and to shave 150 family members and friends from their guest list.
“Andrew and Lina, in just a few minutes you are going to step into a life that is full of new possibilities, new dreams and new hopes,” the groom’s father said. “You see, this marriage was in the making nearly 35 years ago beginning on the day Andrew was born.
“I don’t think a day passed by where we didn’t pray and ask God to bring just the right woman for Andrew to marry and asking God to also prepare Andrew to be the right man for the woman he chose,” he told the bride. “You are God’s answer to all these years of prayer and we couldn’t be happier.”
Neither could the newlyweds, who, according to the rules of a game they began playing four years earlier, still have one question left to ask each other.
The subject of that official 20th question could be anything in the coming years, given what could lie ahead. Children? Promotions? Vacation plans?
“Having used up all of our other questions has made this last one that much more valuable,” the groom said. “The possibilities are endless.”
On This Day
When July 25, 2020
Where Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, Oklahoma City
The Bride’s Attire She donned an Oscar de la Renta Landon silk V-neck trumpet gown with draped ruffle back and illusion neckline. She also wore, Miu Miu metallic leather sandals with crystal-studded straps, embellished butterfly earrings by Nicola Bathie, and a yellow gold Cartier love bracelet given to her by the groom on their wedding day.
The Groom’s Attire He wore a midnight navy blue pin dot tuxedo with Giuseppe Zanotti’s Lewis cup crystal embellished black suede loafers, his grandfathers gold cuff links, and a Z-Blue Dial Milgauss Rolex watch, given to him by the bride on their wedding day.
Near His Heart The groom kept a picture of his mother in the breast pocket of his tuxedo during the ceremony. “She was right over my heart the entire time,” he said.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .