‘Love has no boundaries’: Borderland couple weds on international bridge amid pandemic
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Chihuahua (KVIA) -- It's not ideal. It's loud. It's cramped.
Yet, for Heriberto and Ana Sosa, it was the perfect place for them to get married.
"We had these great plans," Heriberto said. "I remember just telling her that no matter what, whatever happened or how many people were at the wedding, we were going to make sure that we got married the day that she wanted."
That's exactly what they did. The couple, surrounded by a few loved ones, tied the knot at the top of the Paso Del Norte bridge.
"It feels weird because, as a kid, I used to walk this bridge every day, you know," Heriberto said. "Meeting Ana, and just wanting to share my life with her, it just makes me want to be a part of Juarez and El Paso."
Heriberto is a U.S. Citizen. Ana is a Mexican citizen. The two are family friends who have known each other for 15 years. But, it wasn't until a year ago that he got the courage to ask Ana to be his girlfriend.
It didn't take awhile before the two started planning their life together.
There were several obstacles. The two lived on different sides of the bridge. Border restrictions in place are limiting access between the two countries. Couple that with a pandemic -- and you can see the odds were stacked against them.
That's where Ruben Escandon Jr. comes in. He's an ordained minister who has officiated hundreds of bridge weddings.
"It’s a U.S. recognized marriage. It is a state of Texas marriage-issued license. I have the authority as a notary here in Texas. I have the authority as an ordained minister," he said.
Escandon said the County of El Paso stopped issuing marriage licenses for close to three months once the pandemic hit. That's no longer the case anymore, and he started offering his services in July.
Something he's now been doing for 15 years.
"There’s very few places in El Paso that I can go that somebody doesn’t recognize me because of weddings. Whether I’m walking the mall or going to the stores. They’ll say ‘oh there’s the guy that married us’," Escandon said. "It’s a good feeling to be able to contribute in that way.”
The ceremony took place on a cloudy Thursday evening in July. All-in-all it took about five minutes.
There was no aisle to walk down, and no reception afterward. But, after the couple kissed, on-lookers who were waiting in line to cross the bridge cheered and honked their cars.
"I'm so happy to be married to my sweetheart," Ana said in Spanish.
Ana will now begin the process of applying for citizenship so that she and Heriberto can spend their lives together in the U.S. Escandon said it could take about 12-16 months.
"Love has no borders. Love has no boundaries," Heriberto said.