A Study Abroad Cut Short. A Relationship That Endured.

“Because we had grown so close on a spiritual level during our long-distance relationship, when we moved in together it felt so familiar, like we had dated in person over the last year and a half,” Mr. Plaza said. “We knew and loved everything about each other.”

Mr. Plaza proposed on Jan. 29, 2022. He hired a company to set up a picnic complete with a photographer at Miami’s Bayfront Park overlooking Biscayne Bay. “I convinced Jessica that it would be a casual photo shoot just for fun and since I had to reschedule it a few times because I was afraid it would rain it threw her off the scent of my proposing,” he said. “When we got there, the photographer was already set up and I immediately got down on one knee and told her how I wanted her in my life. She cried so much I started to get concerned, but thankfully she said yes.”

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The couple were married Jan. 28, 2023 at Gesù Church in Miami, with the Rev. James Lambert, a Roman Catholic priest, leading a traditional ceremony in front of 75 family members and friends. “When we were new to Miami, we initially struggled to find friends, but we’ve made our closest friendships at our church,” Ms. Lopez Valerio said.

The couple incorporated several Latino traditions into their ceremony. This included “el lazo,” where a large rosary was placed around their shoulders by their mothers symbolizing their union, and “las arras,” gold coins brought to the altar by the groom’s parents and given to the bride to represent the groom’s commitment to provide for her and their home.

At the reception, held at Renaissance Ballrooms in West Miami, the newlyweds shared their first dance to “Drunk on You” by Oh Wonder. “It was the first song we listened to on our first date in Toledo,” Ms. Lopez Valerio said.

“When we began our study abroad semester in Spain, we both hoped that the experience would bring lifelong memories, friendships, and new beginnings,” Mr. Plaza said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”