Meechka Marcelin was studying for a genetics exam in her room off campus when Ian Patrick knocked on her door to invite her to hang out.
After two sleepless nights, Ian Joseph Patrick and Meechka Makeba Marcelin rang in 2023 exhausted, but happy, at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Ga.
“We had an eventful New Year’s Eve,” said Mr. Patrick, to say the least — their new arrival that day, Mia Makeba, weighed in at 7 pounds 7 ounces.
The couple had met a decade earlier, in January 2013, right after Ms. Marcelin moved into off-campus student housing as a sophomore at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., from which she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
“Oh, hey,” she said as she walked by him en route to her room. “Hey,” he replied. Mr. Patrick, dazzled, had been hanging out in the adjoining common area with Ms. Marcelin’s roommate, her roommate’s boyfriend and a couple of others.
“There’s a hot roommate and nobody told me?” said Mr. Patrick, who at the time was a trainer at the new local YouFit Gym and taking business classes at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Ga.
Mr. Patrick, 34, is now a mortgage loan originator, and works with Ms. Marcelin, 30, and her mother, at the Stockbridge, Ga., branch of CalCon Mutual Mortgage, a residential mortgage company. She is the manager and her mother, the sales manager of the branch, which her family operates, and covers Georgia and Florida properties.
“She’s too busy for your shenanigans,” he recalled her roommate saying.
Later that day, though, Ms. Marcelin, known to be super-studious and too busy to date, was not too busy to inquire about him.
“Who’s that really cute guy with the dark hair?” she asked her roommate.
To her surprise, three months later, he knocked on her door. He had been hanging out in the common area, hoping to see her. The other times he had stopped by he was disappointed she was not around.
“It’s Ian,” said Mr. Patrick, tipped off that she might be in when he heard a Lana Del Rey song coming from her room. “Would you like to hang out?”
Ms. Marcelin studied for her genetics exam about another 15 minutes, and then joined him.
“It was instant fireworks,” she said, as they danced the night away to hip-hop, electronic music, as well as a Latin bachata, or two.
They later had their first kiss and exchanged phone numbers, but neither wanted to rush into anything — she, of course, was too busy studying and he had recently broken up with someone.
“We understood each other,” he said. “Her family is Haitian and my mom is Honduran. Our upbringings were so similar.”
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They next met at a pool party on Memorial Day weekend and began seeing each other casually.
“We had many little dorm room soirees playing card games,” Mr. Patrick said. “We drove through different communities and watched the sunset at Costco,” one of the highest vantage points in town. By that December, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.
In 2016, when she moved back home after graduation, he stayed there too until he found a room in a house nearby a couple of months later.
“My family loved, loved him,” she said.
By the end of 2017 he bought a fixer-upper house, doing most of the renovations himself. She moved in that spring. He cheered her on as she competed in bikini bodybuilding competitions, and by 2019 she received an International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness professional card.
In August 2021, they moved to a townhouse in Smyrna, Ga., and rented out the other house.
On Dec. 15, 2021, their anniversary, he took her to dinner at Marcel steakhouse in Atlanta, and afterward led her to a rooftop area where he got down on one knee as family and friends stood by to celebrate.
That April they learned she was pregnant, and a few months later they traveled to the Dominican Republic to plan their destination wedding.
“It wasn’t the most traditional route,” he said, with a laugh.
On May 30, Judge Donald Hicks officiated at their legal ceremony at Cobb County Magistrate Court in a Marietta, Ga., and after last-minute passport issues at the airport, they arrived a day late, but a day before their ceremony in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
“I love the way that he handles things,” said Ms. Marcelin, who is taking the groom’s name. “He’s very loving, calm and very kind.”
On June 3, Jehison Cabrera, an officiant, led them in their vows, a prayer and a heart ceremony in Spanish and English before 80 guests at Pearl Beach Club in Punta Cana. Amid tropical greenery, a band played contemporary Latin music for a couple of hours, followed by a Dominican D.J. mixing bachata, reggaeton and Haiti’s dance music, compas.
“The relief of being there was ecstasy,” Mr. Patrick said. “It was so beautiful.”