Though Tanya Tanwar Sareen’s brother died in 2015, she feels he had a hand in introducing her to her future husband.

“Taj helped put us in each other’s path,” she said. “He probably got tired of my making bad decisions,” she added with a laugh.

Maj. Taj Sareen, a jet pilot in the Marine Corps, was killed when the aircraft he was piloting crashed on his way back from deployment in the Persian Gulf.

In November 2021, a group of Major Sareen’s former squadron mates came to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Allen Szczepek, a retired lieutenant colonel, reached out to Ms. Sareen in advance to arrange a visit with her family, and she flew in to join them. (Her parents split their time between Las Vegas and Hillsborough, Calif., where she lived.)

After the visit, the men invited Ms. Sareen to join them at a nearby bar. She chose Clique, a lounge in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel, and it was there that Ms. Sareen and Joel Gregory Adolphson, a lieutenant colonel who had served with Major Sareen in San Diego, fell into an easy rapport.

Colonel Adolphson approached with trepidation: The squadron mates had all agreed Ms. Sareen was off limits out of respect for her brother. In fact, Colonel Szczepek whispered a reminder of this into Colonel Adolphson’s ear as the two were talking.

Nevertheless, Ms. Sareen was charmed by Colonel Adolphson’s polite Midwestern demeanor and his foreign exchange service with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. By the end of the night, she gave him her phone number.

The next day, Colonel Adolphson texted Ms. Sareen while she was out to lunch with her mother, who, uncharacteristically, encouraged her daughter to get to know him.

She told him he was welcome to join in whatever plans she already had with her friends there.

“I was just thrown into the fire,” Colonel Adolphson said. “I knew if her friends don’t like me, I’m out.” (The friends liked him so much that one ended up in the wedding party, on the groom’s side.)

Ms. Sareen, 37, is a senior corporate counsel at Pandora Media in Oakland, Calif. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California San Diego, she earned a law degree from the University of San Francisco.

Colonel Adolphson, 38, is part of VMFT- 401, a dedicated adversary tactics training squadron at Marines Corps Air Station-Yuma in Yuma, Ariz. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, and graduated from the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, also known as TOPGUN, in Fallon, Nev.

On their second date, Ms. Sareen told Colonel Adolphson that if he ever sensed she wasn’t the one, he should move on; she didn’t want to waste her time.

“I knew very quickly that even though we’re from totally opposite backgrounds, we get each other and get along so well,” Colonel Adolphson said. He is from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and was raised Christian; she was born in Los Angeles to parents who immigrated from India, and was raised Hindu.

In April 2023, Colonel Adolphson planned a celebration for Ms. Sareen’s birthday in San Diego. He invited her close friends, and reserved a balcony and private dining room at Mister A’s restaurant. During sunset, a birthday toast turned into a proposal. Ms. Sareen’s reply: “Of course.”

“Joel has really made me feel like home,” Ms. Sareen said. “When I’m with him, I feel a connection, peace and security that I never had before.”

They were married March 23 at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas. On a chair upfront at the ceremony was Maj. Sareen’s photo and military hat.

Ms. Sareen combined both Indian and Western wedding customs by wearing a white lehenga — a long skirt and midriff-baring top — to the ceremony, along with a chapel-length veil into which the groom’s name in Hindi was stitched.

A nondenominational ceremony was conducted by Colonel Szczepek, the friend who had cautioned Colonel Adolphson against hitting on Ms. Sareen. (In the end, all of Major Sareen’s former squadron mates were “ecstatic,” he said, about the union.) Norma Rivera of Peachy Keen Unions, a minister ordained by American Marriage Ministries, signed their marriage license.

Ms. Sareen will be moving to Yuma and working remotely from there.

“I still remember her smiling on our first date,” Colonel Adolphson said. “Since then, I’ve felt that I’ll do anything to keep her smiling.”



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