Erwin Castillo & Brianne Stewart
  • Erwin Castillo & Brianne Stewart
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  • Met: September 16, 2003
  • Engaged: February 21, 2004
  • Wedding Date: July 31, 2004

Erwin Castillo gets what he wants. You can hear it in his voice on the telephone. “We’re having an engagement party at Graziano’s in Rancho Bernardo. Meet us there beforehand, and we’ll talk.”

Graziano’s, in a small upscale shopping center near RB High, is quiet on a cloudy Saturday morning. The smells of garlic and yeast and tomato sauce hang in the air. Mr. Castillo, 28, and Brianne Stewart, 22, walk in to find some friends decorating with crepe-paper streamers. Ms. Stewart’s four-year-old daughter Jacqueline holds her mother’s hand. The smiling threesome slips into one side of an upholstered booth.

Mr. Castillo has a friendly, efficient, somewhat bustling air about him. You get the impression not much gets past him as a business-development officer for San Diego County Credit Union. He certainly didn’t let Ms. Stewart get past him.

“I met her at a traffic light,” Mr. Castillo says and chuckles, “at the corner of Mira Mesa Boulevard and Camino Ruiz. I was in the left turn lane talking to a friend when a silver VW Jetta pulled up beside me. I thought, ‘Wow!’ Brianne was going to the bank and wanted to get into the left lane. I rolled down my window and told her, ‘I’ll let you in if you give me your phone number.’ When you see something so beautiful, you’ve got to go for it. This might be your only chance. Brianne shouted her phone number to me, so I let her in.”

Sitting close beside Mr. Castillo, Ms. Stewart is fairy princess pretty, all blonde hair and peachy cheeks and sleepy blue eyes. Jacqueline looks like a miniature version of her mom. “Erwin called 15 minutes later. I called him back that night.” After a few e-mail exchanges, the couple agreed to meet for a late lunch that Friday.

“We met at 2:30 at Sandwich Island in Mira Mesa,” Mr. Castillo remembers. “We hugged right away. It was an hour and a half lunch. We made plans to go to Sea World the next day. The day after that, we went to La Jolla Cove. Until yesterday, we haven’t been apart for more than a day.”

With what appears to be his usual sense of efficiency, Mr. Castillo knew after the second date that he wanted to marry Ms. Stewart. “I realized this was my best friend, and I fell in love,” he says. “I kept thinking that she was the one.”

Ms. Stewart knew about the same time that Mr. Castillo was the one for her. “He was so easy to talk to,” she says.

Almost five months to the day after their traffic encounter, Mr. Castillo proposed to Ms. Stewart in an elaborately planned treasure hunt involving a limo, family members, and dry cleaning. “I had her favorite dress dry-cleaned,” Mr. Castillo says. “Her roommate got it for me. Then I had Brianne’s dad pick up Jacqueline. I had four letters prepared.” Mr. Castillo pulls from beside the booth a large picture frame holding four letters on thick white stationery. “The first letter told Brianne to get ready and wear her favorite dress. I had a limousine driver waiting. The driver gave her the second letter, which told her to go to the intersection where we met.”

At the corner of Mira Mesa Boulevard and Camino Ruiz, Ms. Stewart retrieved a third letter that instructed her to go to Sandwich Island, the site of the couple’s first date. When she got to Sandwich Island, she found 11 long-stemmed red roses and an envelope directing her to La Jolla Cove where the couple had enjoyed their first kiss and where Mr. Castillo had first asked Ms. Stewart to be his girlfriend.

“I was waiting on the bridge at Children’s Pool,” Mr. Castillo says, “with the 12th rose. I told her how I wanted to grow old together and how much I loved her. I talked for a long time. Then I said, ‘Brianne Nicole Stewart, will you marry me?’“

Ms. Stewart said, “Yes.” Mr. Castillo gave her a 1.16-carat clas- sic solitaire. The couple had dinner at the Sky Room at La Valencia Hotel. Then they picked up Jacqueline in the limo and gave her a locket with a photo inside of Mr. Castillo and Ms. Stewart. She will be the flower girl at the couple’s wedding July 31 at Tidelands Park in Coronado.

In the booth at Graziano’s, it’s almost time for guests to arrive. Ms. Stewart gazes at Mr. Castillo. “Erwin is so loving and considerate all the time,” she says. “He has no bad qualities. Most everyone has things about them that get on your nerves. Not Erwin.”

Mr. Castillo gazes back. “Brianne is very loving and caring. She’s a good listener. She’s a good, loving mother. And she’s very spiritual. That’s what I love most.”

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