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While Navigating Life’s Changes, a Teenage Romance Endures


Olivia Grace Amitrano and Nicholas Ryan Vazquez were only teenagers when they met. Still, they somehow had the sense to take it slow, which allowed their relationship to go the distance.

They met on Oct. 5, 2009 at Gino’s Pizzeria in Yonkers, N.Y., where both had grown up, when Ms. Amitrano was 16 and Mr. Vazquez was 18. She was with her best friend at the time, who occasionally dated his brother.

Ms. Amitrano had heard Mr. Vazquez was “quite the ladies’ man,” so she did her best to play it cool, though she found him charming. Both Ms. Amitrano, now 29, and Mr. Vazquez, 31, were seeing other people on and off at the time. They would see one another at parties and, “he tried pursuing me,” Ms. Amitrano said, but they remained friends.

Their connection grew nonetheless. They would spend late nights parked in front of her house in his 1990 champagne-colored Volvo and take turns playing their favorite R&B songs on their iPods. “We slowly fell in love over many nights venting and bonding in his car,” Ms. Amitrano said.

But the two didn’t see one another for six months starting in November 2010 while Mr. Vazquez gave it one last try with his on-and-off girlfriend of several years. It didn’t work. On May 26, 2011, just a few weeks after Ms. Amitrano happened to have broken up with her high school boyfriend, Mr. Vazquez contacted her out of the blue.

Mr. Vazquez admitted that he thought about her often and “truly just wanted any excuse to see her.”

“He needed lunch at work and was short on cash,” Ms. Amitrano said. “I brought him microwaved mixed vegetables with butter and pasta that I boiled with the tomato sauce.”

As she handed him a Tupperware container, “We exchanged the most casual hello kiss, as if we’d been married for 20 years,” Ms. Amitrano said. “Our eyes both widened as we panicked a bit, recognizing how second-nature that moment felt.”

The very next day, Mr. Vazquez brought her a Caesar salad. “I guess bringing food was our love language,” Ms. Amitrano said.

On Aug. 30, 2011, the week before Ms. Amitrano was to begin attending Fordham, she said she told Mr. Vazquez they needed to “figure out what we’re doing.” He didn’t want to hold her back, he told her. He wanted her to have the full “college experience,” he said. “But, I told him, ‘I know what I want,’” Ms. Amitrano said. “‘You’re my boyfriend.’”

“As long as you know what you want,” Mr. Vazquez said, with what Ms. Amitrano called “the sweetest smirk on his face.”

After having what Ms. Amitrano described as “a life-changing, eye-opening experience with a local Chinese medicine practitioner and herbalist,” while looking for remedies for some challenging health issues she was experiencing in college, she discovered an interest in integrative medicine.

So, in 2013, she began Organic Olivia, blogging and writing e-books about healthy living. In late 2014, she also started Living Earth Jewelry, making and selling jewelry, as she grew the Organic Olivia brand.

“What was once a simple blog turned into an e-commerce website with an herbal remedy line of products in 2016,” Ms. Amitrano said. She closed the jewelry business in September 2019 to focus on Organic Olivia, an herbal supplement company.

Mr. Vazquez had been designing and embroidering the interiors of caskets at a local factory from late 2009 until May 2014 when he decided to pursue unionized ironwork. “For me, the union was a natural choice,” he said. “I was looking to work with my hands and also receive a decent paycheck.”

But ironwork didn’t suit Mr. Vazquez, particularly because of the health risks. So, once she was sure it was what he really wanted, Ms. Amitrano agreed to have him join her in working on the business. “I would design and he would painstakingly put the intricate pieces together,” Ms. Amitrano said. “I did the marketing and he did the customer service. I did the handwritten thank you notes and he did the mailing.”

When Ms. Amitrano graduated from college in May 2015, the two found an apartment together in Yonkers. After living there for two years, they decided to try living off the grid in Costa Rica beginning mid-February 2017.

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“We wanted to have a technology detox — let’s hang out and eat fruit,” Mr. Vazquez said. They lasted six weeks.

“Turns out, it’s not our thing,” Ms. Amitrano said. “He’s terrified of landslides and it was getting to be rainy season.” They left Costa Rica to travel for a bit before moving in with Ms. Amitrano’s parents in Yonkers as they searched for a place to live.

They landed on a new apartment building in Yonkers. “It was a disaster,” Ms. Amitrano said. “The heat didn’t work. The windows weren’t sealed. The maintenance was terrible.” They left in November 2019, opting instead to rent a townhouse in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where they still live.

Ms. Amitrano, a certified herbalist and the chief executive of Oganic Olivia, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fordham. She completed a three-year clinical herbalist program through the ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism in Brooklyn and Suzanne Robidoux’s Classical Chinese Medicine Course (Jing Fang) virtually.

Mr. Vazquez, a graduate of Charles E. Gorton High School, is currently developing recipes for a new cookbook of mostly Caribbean and Latin cuisine based on his Puerto Rican and Ecuadorean roots.

After being together for nearly a decade, Mr. Vazquez said he observed that they “were still able to grow and, most importantly, grow in a similar direction.”

“I knew it was time to pop the question,” he said. On June 3, 2021, Mr. Vazquez and Ms. Amitrano were recording the first episode of the second season for Ms. Amitrano’s podcast “What’s the Juice,” while also being filmed. They were discussing their 10-year anniversary and he proposed.

She was shocked. “He is someone who appreciates privacy, so doing this in front of a camera and on a podcast episode was the last thing I would ever expect,” Ms. Amitrano said.

After keeping the engagement a secret for three weeks, they held an engagement party disguised as a podcast launch party where they surprised their families. A month later, the podcast was released and so was their big news.

The two were wed July 15 before 93 guests at Foxfire Mountain House in Mount Tremper, N.Y. Sylva Dvorak, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church, led the ceremony. Mr. Vazquez said, “I thought the wedding venue represented us perfectly as a couple, full of life and nature.” Ms. Amitrano said she loved “the rawness of the venue, being surrounded by native flowers and plants, letting earth be our backdrop.”

On the dock of the property’s lake, one hour before the official ceremony, Ms. Amitrano said, “We said our private promises to each other, took time to ground and center, and soak in the moment of ‘look around — we made it.’”

The groom wore an ivory jacket and black pants by Alan David Custom.

Ms. Amitrano originally purchased a white Danielle Frankel gown to wear. But at a fitting three weeks before the wedding, “I realized the dress was so not me,” she said. “I got roped into the bridal consumer world thinking I needed the fanciest, trendiest designer dress.”

So, 10 days before the wedding, she ordered a vintage, 1950s, pink dress from eBay for $200. “It was perfect,” she said. “Walking down the aisle in my pink vintage gown, with bright blue, sparkly, $28 vintage earrings was the best decision I ever made.”

Because she could not return the original dress, she did wear it for part of the reception, before changing into a short dress by Rotate Birger Christensen for dancing. But it was her ceremony gown that was everything she dreamed of. Ms. Amitrano said, “I wanted the dress to feel real, to feel true to our relationship and to my playful inner child.”


When July 15, 2023

Where Foxfire Mountain House, Mount Tremper, N.Y.

Skipping the Sauce Although there was alcohol provided for guests at the reception, the couple themselves opted not to partake. “We felt much more present and clear-hearted with our people and truly savored each moment with each other,” Ms. Amitrano said. “We were really there in our eyes.”

Getting Creative In lieu of a honeymoon, the two spent the week after the wedding creating art in the new home they purchased in Hastings-on-Hudson on June 15 while it is still undergoing renovations on the second floor. “There’s no furniture, only endless canvases, two easels, and paint strewn around the floor,” Ms. Amitrano said. “We spent every day painting together in the summer light, singing and listening to music, honoring those two kids in the car 12 years ago.”

Playing Around Ms. Amitrano made designing her full look part of the wedding day activities, “bringing a whole bunch of funky and vintage accessories, playing dress up and picking them out with my bridesmaids moments before walking down the aisle,” she said.



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