Roll Call Engagements: Assad Akhter, Saira Hussain

Akhter proposes to Hussain at the Jefferson Memorial. (Courtesy David Sims)

Assad Akhter planned his proposal before he ever even met the girl of his dreams. He just never thought he'd be able to pull it off.  

He knew from the moment he interned in Washington as a college student that "one day I would propose at the Jefferson Memorial." Soon after coming to work on the Hill as a staff assistant for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Akhter met David Sims, a photographer he decided would be the one to capture the moment. Sims at the time worked for then-Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y.  

Akhter bided his time until he met the right woman, who turned out to be  Saira Hussain, assistant vice president and counsel at BNP Paribas in New York City. The two had met at a legal event Hussain helped organize in Manhattan. Akhter found an excuse to introduce himself after meandering around in "semi-awkward conversation" at the back of the room.  

"She had actually seen me speak at a networking event in the city a year earlier, thinking this would have left her impressed, I asked her what she thought of my performance. ... Her response was polite but made clear that she was not exactly blown away by what she had heard," he said.  

Akhter persisted, and the two began dating. Soon after, his plan for the proposal started to take hold.  

Akhter, now deputy chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, needed to get his girlfriend to the memorial.  

"I knew she would be less than pleased if I had this moment immortalized while she wore the usual outfit of most memorial visitors: t-shirt and jeans. So I devised a plan whereby I told her that a very good friend of mine was having his wedding in DC and that I was in the wedding party and they were actually taking the pre-wedding photographs at the Jefferson Memorial, thus ensuring an excuse for needing to be there and dressed formally," Akhter told Heard on the Hill.  

It worked. On April 12, while the two were on their supposed stroll for fictional wedding photos, he got down on one knee and proposed.  

Sims snapped these pictures, and Hussain said yes. A wedding is planned for this year.  


Akhter, deputy chief of staff to Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., is engaged to Saira Hussain, Asst. VP and Counsel at BNP Paribus

Akhter and Hussain. (Courtesy David Sims)

Photo courtesy David Sims

(Courtesy David Sims)


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Topics: weddings