A Brazilian and Russian Love Story That Began in Brooklyn

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By Margaretd. Regina

It was Sept. 1, 2020, and Maxwell Dayvson Da Silva and Evgenia Satsuk were wearing masks during their first date at Leuca, an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He freaked her out just a bit when he asked her to lower her mask and kissed her.

“All right, now I’m going to die,” she recalled thinking. “He probably kisses every woman during the pandemic.” He had actually quarantined in his apartment for 90 days because he had been terrified of going out during the Covid-19 pandemic. But at the time, she didn’t know that.

The kiss didn’t scare her away, though, because of their animated conversation over dinner and drinks. They had met on the dating app Tinder a week before, and they connected about life in New York and life in their homelands. Mr. Da Silva is from Recife, Brazil, and Ms. Satsuk from Khabarovsk, Russia.

Mr. Da Silva, 40, was born and raised in a favela, a working-class neighborhood. At 14, he taught himself how to code, and when he was 15, he started working as a software engineer at a media company. In 2012, he got a job offer as a software engineer at The New York Times and moved to Brooklyn. “It’s honestly a miracle,” said Mr. Da Silva, as he reflected on his childhood days carrying buckets of water to his home, which didn’t have running water most days.

Ms. Satsuk, 38, grew up in a housing project in Eastern Russia. She graduated from Khabarovsk State University of Economics and Law with a bachelor’s degree in international business and became an account manager at a retail company. She moved to Brooklyn in 2011.

“Even though we were separated by oceans and different continents,” Mr. Da Silva said, “we had a very similar story growing up with very humble beginnings.”

For their second date, they met at Sweetwater, another restaurant in Williamsburg. And on the dates that followed, Mr. Da Silva invited her over to his apartment in Williamsburg and won her heart with his cooking.

On their third date, he prepared moqueca, a seafood stew. On the fourth date, he made a mashed potato dish with crab and shrimp. It was so good, she said, that she took some home. And on the fifth date, he cooked black fettuccine with a vodka sauce and lobster, a dish that he now makes for the couple every year on Valentine’s Day.

In January 2021, Ms. Satsuk and Mr. Da Silva booked a one-way ticket to Hawaii. At the time, Mr. Da Silva was working at Lyft as a senior director of engineering, and he was also in the midst of completing a master’s degree in interactive telecommunications at N.Y.U. He is currently the vice president of engineering at Shopify.

Their time in Oahu was a big stress reliever, Mr. Da Silva said. At 5 p.m. every day, he wrapped up at work and went to Waikiki Beach with Ms. Satsuk. Sometimes they had ice cream. They watched the waves and waited for the sunset. They ended up staying in Hawaii for five months.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

On Nov. 25, 2022, during a friendsgiving dinner in their home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Mr. Da Silva proposed. While everyone’s glasses were filled with champagne, he made a toast, Ms. Satsuk recalled: “I’m so grateful for all of you guys, but I’m most grateful for this Russian princess I met.”

In February 2024, the couple hosted a three-day Russian and Brazilian celebration with 75 guests in Pipa, a beach town in northeastern Brazil, close to Mr. Da Silva’s hometown.

On the first night, they had a pool party. Colorful dune buggies escorted guests from their hotels to the party, where they took a samba class.

The next day, a wedding celebration took place on a full moon at Filha da Lua Eco Lodge, a resort hotel. A D.J. played Brazilian, Russian and American music. At the end of the celebration, everyone jumped into a pool, including Ms. Satsuk in her wedding dress.

And on the third day, guest were treated to a Russian-themed Sunday brunch.

“I felt so loved,” Ms. Satsuk said. Her family flew in from Russia, taking four planes on a 48-hour trip. She saw her father for the first time in five years.

“I never had a dream of having a wedding dress, and having a wedding day,” added Ms. Satsuk. “But what happened was just a dream come true — a dream I didn’t know I had.”

The celebration had an altruistic component. The owners of the hotel they stayed at had opened a school for children in the neighborhood, but the library had only had a few books. The couple asked each guest to bring a handful of books to donate to the school’s library.

On March 28, the couple were legally wed at the Brooklyn Marriage Bureau. Huiling Zheng, a staff member of the city clerk’s office, officiated.

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