PITTSFIELD — Sunday morning is family time for Tony Carestia and Jessica Chapman.
Last week, Chapman was reading the Sunday comics to the couple's 2-year-old daughter Layla when Carestia held up a page of The Berkshire Eagle without his girlfriend noticing. He pointed to a photo asking Layla to identify the man and woman.
"Mommy and daddy," the toddler said, eliciting a "What?" from Chapman.
She grabbed the paper and saw, in large type, the message: "Jessica Chapman Will You Marry Me?"
"I couldn't believe it — definitely brought tears to my eyes," said the newly engaged 29-year-old.
Carestia then got on one knee and made it official, with his fiancee's "Yes," much to Layla's delight.
"She was laughing and loves to dance and started to shake her butt," Carestia said.
Chapman has made her acceptance official in an ad of her own on page B10 of today's Eagle.
Technically, the couple decided more than a month ago to tie the knot. Indeed, Chapman already was wearing an engagement ring.
But Carestia wanted to publicly profess his love for Chapman, so he purchased the full page advertisement to be published July 24 — three years to the day from when they first met.
Carestia, 30, moved to Pittsfield from Agawam in 2013 and is the internet director for Flynn Audi BMW Volkswagen; Chapman is employed at Berkshire Medical Group.
They had a chance meeting and were friends at first before a romance blossomed, Carestia said.
His newspaper proposal stated how after a two-hour conversation with Chapman on a bench outside the Berkshire Athenaeum, she would be his lifelong love.
"I first noticed her smile, it was contagious and made me feel very comfortable around her," he told The Eagle. "I didn't know what love was until I met Jessie."
The feeling is mutual.
"He pulls out the good in me and makes me laugh," Chapman said. "I could see myself growing old with him."
The couple is set to say "I do" on July 1, 2017.
In addition to Layla, Chapman has an 8-year-old daughter, Ciana, from a previously relationship who already calls Carestia "daddy." The pairing has been well received by the inlaws, with Carestia's recently widowed mother having moved to, in part, to help with the children.
Chapman says her family knows how Carestia is a loving father and will make a loving husband.
"He's like my Prince Charming," she said. "A day doesn't go by without him saying he loves me."
Carestia summed up his feelings in the Eagle ad.
"[Three] years later I continue to love you more and more with each day that passes and there is still no doubt in my mind that I want to kiss you good night and good morning, every day, for the rest of my life."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.