Augusto Contreras wasn’t nervous about asking his longtime girlfriend to marry him. He says he was “99 percent sure that she would say yes.” But he was apprehensive about bringing up the subject with her parents three weeks ago.
“She comes from a very traditional Mexican-American family,” says Contreras, a community manager at Mexico City’s WeWork Reforma Latino. “Throwing a party for the engagement is a big deal in their culture. And I had to tell them that it wouldn’t be possible.”
That’s because 35-year-old Contreras planned to propose to 28-year-old Anna Tirado more than 5,000 miles away from either of their families at WeWork Summer Camp outside of London in mid-August.
It was WeWork Mexico general manager Eduardo Molina, who also happens to be friends with Contreras from their college days at Tecnológico de Monterrey, who convinced him to pop the question at Summer Camp.
“Even before joining WeWork, Augusto’s philosophy of life was very close to what we have here,” says Molina. “He’s very involved in our team, and with our members. I knew Summer Camp would be the right place.”
The original idea was that Contreras would propose on the Friday evening in front of the thousands of people who had turned out for a concert by the band Bastille. The team that had carefully coordinated what was happening on the main stage was thrilled to help out, but was worried about the timing.
“Doing the math, we figured out that they had about four minutes and 30 seconds for the whole proposal,” says WeWork director of culture Glennis Meagher. “That just wasn’t enough time.”
So they decided they would reschedule it for the following day during a disco dodgeball tournament. It was a chance for the entire team from Mexico City to gather in one place without Tirado catching on.
“Augusto was playing dodgeball for like 45 minutes before the proposal,” says Meagher. “And the crazy part was that the whole time I could see the little box with the ring inside it in his back pocket.”
Right before the finals came an announcement that Contreras’s team, which had already been knocked out of the competition, would have a second chance. That’s when Contreras dropped down on one knee right in the middle of the field and proposed—first in English, then in Spanish. As his entire team stood around them and cheered, she smiled and accepted.
“I felt like I was surrounded by my extended family,” says Contreras, who has been with WeWork since January. “There were people from everywhere—Europe, Israel, China, Japan—standing around us and creating this huge feeling of love.”
Members of his team at WeWork Reforma Latino say they were thrilled that Contreras decided to share the moment with them.
“I felt that even though we all have crazy, stressful days in our lives, little events like that one are a reminder for us to enjoy every moment,” says community lead Adrian Gomez.
Daniela Leon, another community lead, says she was pleased to be there for an “authentic and inspiring leader.”
“He once told us that if you act by your heart nothing can go wrong in your life,” says Leon. “What we saw at Summer Camp was just and example of pure love.”
For the time being, Contreras will continue working in Mexico City while Tirado runs Creative Arts Studio, a school for children they started together in Texas. The school, which has grown to three campuses and almost 500 students, is their labor of love.
“We want to leave the world a better place,” he says. “And we understand that for us to do what we love, we also have to help others do what their love. What you give, you give to yourself.”
And as for her family’s disappointment about not being able to throw the engagement party? Contreras says they’ve come up with the perfect compromise.
“When we see them, we’re going to do the proposal all over again,” Contreras says. “That way they won’t miss it.”