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SUNDAY BRUNCH | Celebrations

Froggies Went A-Courtin' With Them

June 21, 1998|MARNELL JAMESON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Monica Meyka collected a lot of frogs before she landed her prince.

"It had to do with that whole fairy-tale business," said her sister Marisa. Monica, now 26, began collecting frogs five years ago, about the time she met Rafael Iglesias, 25, the man she married May 30 at Our Lady of Solitude Church in East Los Angeles. The collection now includes some 200 frogs: pictures, figurines, sculptures, garden stones, you name it. So it was fitting that at the reception, held in her aunt's backyard in Monterey Park, a frog motif prevailed. The bride got a frog mold and made candies out of mint-green chocolate. Centerpieces were two frogs--one in top hat and one in a veil--each inside a white silk rose.

Monica first spotted Rafael at the bank where she worked as a teller and he was a customer. Whenever he came in, he would look for her. They would exchange shy glances, make awkward small talk. After several months of this, Monica breached bank rules, got his phone number from his account information and called him on Valentine's Day.

He was just about to call her, he insists. Several months later, realizing he wasn't the type to leap into a relationship, Monica brought up the subject of exclusivity. He'd been thinking the same thing, he swears.

Meanwhile, the frog collection grew alongside Monica's impatience, and four years later, after Rafael had finished his degree in print management at Cal State Los Angeles and had a good job as a production assistant for a printer in Montebello, Monica started dropping subtle hints, like: "If you don't ask me to marry you, I'm going to ask you."

"Oh, don't beat me this time," Rafael begged. He held her off until just before Valentine's Day this year, when he sprang the question.

They set a wedding date a few months out, and recruited family and friends to help. The groom's cousin played in the mariachi band and his brother served as deejay. Monica's aunt hosted the reception, and another aunt got the flowers, a simple spring mix from the Southern California Flower Market, and arranged them. The mother of a friend made the dresses, all of raw silk, for the bride and her two attendants. And her versatile uncle not only fixed Monica's hair and makeup, but also walked her down the aisle.

After returning from their honeymoon in Puerta Vallarta, the newlyweds will move into a home they just bought in Whittier, where they'll have one room for the frogs. Although Marisa will miss her sister, she's not sad to see the frogs go. "They were taking over the house." Now the frogs and the baby the couple hope to have someday will share a room. "It will be a like a great big lily pond," says the groom, clearly under the spell.

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Do you have a joyful event coming up? We will report on selected special moments--weddings and other milestones--in the lives of Southern Californians. Write Celebrations, Life & Style, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888 or e-mail to lifeandstyle@latimes.com. Include your name and telephone number.

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