"We used to live around the block from each other," said Rojas, who works in heating, ventilation and air conditioning installation. "Just like that, I saw her one day and I was impressed."
"I liked him from afar," said the former Leydi Valencia. "One day, we were both at the same grocery store. I remember his hair was all puffy that day. I thought it was cute. He came over to me, asked me for my phone number, and that was it."
The two, both North Bergen High School graduates, have been together ever since. They had been engaged for about three years, until Leydi announced she wanted to get married on Valentine's Day.
"I had been waiting a long time," Leydi said. "I wanted it to be Valentine's Day because it's romantic and different."
The same can be said for another pair of long-time lovers, Espedy Figueroa and his fiancée, Marisol Figueroa. Yes, the two shared the same surname long before they even thought of getting married. No, they're not related. It was a coincidence.
The Figueroas met each other while working at a packing company four years ago.
"I knew from the minute we met," Espedy Figueroa said. "I loved her kindness and her humility."
So they decided to get married on Valentine's Day as well, asking North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco to preside over the ceremony.
200 weddings a year
It's nothing new to Sacco, who has been marrying township couples since he took office as mayor in 1991. In fact, the commissioners' chambers in Town Hall have almost been like a revolving door of wedding ceremonies.
"One year, I did 419 weddings," Sacco said. "Last year, it was 281. I think I've done an average of 200 or more weddings every year. I like doing it. It's the part of the job that I like the most. It's not as easy as you would think to find someone to marry them, but I make myself readily available."
With Valentine's Day being the universal day of love, it's only fitting that there should be a host of weddings scheduled on that date.
Sure enough, North Bergen had seven couples register to take their vows in front of their beloved mayor on Wednesday.
However, Mother Nature wasn't exactly a wedding lover this time around, as the major winter storm that slammed the area put a damper on all planned nuptials.
Snow stopped three couples
Three of the couples decided to get married another day. Yet, some didn't have that option.
"I was worried, but she was worried more," Espedy Figueroa said. "It was a special day for us. We wanted to get married. But with the snow, we were pretty worried it wasn't going to happen."
Especially with family members coming from all over the world - mostly from Argentina - to witness the happy union.
"I really thought they were going to cancel it," said Rojas, who played baseball and basketball at North Bergen High School and attended Lincoln School when Sacco was the principal there. "Because of the weather, I didn't think it was going to happen. I didn't think the mayor would be able to come in."
Sacco never flinched.
"I knew I had to get here and perform the weddings," Sacco said. "I couldn't have anyone disappointed. Because our Department of Public Works does such a great job in cleaning the streets, I knew I'd be able to get here. Once I say yes to doing a wedding, I can't disappoint."
Mayor made it
Sure enough, the four weddings took place, with Sacco donning his customary wedding robe to cover his civilian clothes. You can't expect the mayor to don his Sunday best in a blizzard.
Espedy and Marisol shared their "I dos" with a host of family present, including sons Jeremiah, age 2, and Joshua, just two months.
"It feels different now that we're married," Espedy Figueroa said. "But it feels real good."
At least Marisol doesn't have to change her driver's license now. She's kept her birth name by marrying the right guy.
The Rojas family was also present, with 1-year-old daughter Samantha wearing a white gown just like her mommy. Who cared about the snow?
"It's a relief that we're married," Rojas said. "I'm not as nervous anymore. I'm glad the mayor came, because without him, this doesn't happen."
"It's a feel-good day, Valentine's Day," Sacco said. "It always makes me feel good to keep doing these weddings. I wasn't going to let these good people down because of the weather. They picked Valentine's Day for a reason. We had to be here."
Both the Rojas and Figueroa families said they were going out to dinner to celebrate the day, despite the conditions outside.
Even in lousy weather, love prevails.