A couple forced apart by immigration status and a 2,000 mile border between the United States and Mexico made the most of a rare lapse in border rules Saturday.
The couple were able to say ‘I do’ while standing in two different countries as authorities opened a gate known as the “Door of Hope” at Friendship Park which straddles San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.
Somewhat of a modern day Romeo and Juliet, the couple were determined to bind themselves together during a wedding witnessed by Border Patrol agents and 11 other families who were there to briefly reunite with loved ones.
The “Door of Hope,” was exactly that for Evelia Reyes, 27, of Mexico, and Brian Houston, 26, of the United States.
Reyes has not been able to get permission to immigrate to the U.S. and Houston is unable to got to Mexico, the reason for which is unclear.
Wearing a long white wedding gown, complete with a flowing train and veil, Reyes smiled as the door opened and revealed Houston on the other side.
Reyes’ young daughter, who also wore a white dress and a tiara, jumped into his arms before Houston kissed his new wife, holding them both close, according to the Washington Post.
Reyes and Houston to exchange vows and sign wedding documents before a judge from Tijuana. Forbidden from moving any items across the border, they each brought their own wedding ring to the ceremony.
They had a mere three minutes together before they were told that their time was up.
Border Angels, a group that organizes the events, coordinated the three-minute wedding ceremony, as well as the reunions of 11 other families, who also got three minutes with their loved ones.
Brian Houston participated in our Opening the Door of Hope event at Friendship Park, this past Saturday. He and his fiancé, Evelina Reyes, were the last of 12 families to go. During their 3 minutes to see each other they got married! Here Brian shares a few words on how he feels after the big day. Congratulations Brian and Evelina Houston! #lovehasnoborders #borderangels
Friendship Park opens every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowing families to catch glimpses of each other through a steel mesh fence. The door has only been opened six times since 2013.
Reyes and Houston speak on the phone every day, and see each other through the fence on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the Post.
“I’m very happy,” Houston told Border Angels in an Instagram video the published Monday. “I had the most amazing opportunity to get to marry my wife at the border. I am so grateful for everything that Enrique Morones [executive director] and Border Angels were able to do to help my out and facilitate this event. I am very fortunate to be given this opportunity. I appreciate every opportunity that has been given our way.”
“It was unbelievable,” Morones told the outlet. “It was such a mixture of emotions.”
After the gate closed, the couple had a few moments to themselves, speaking through the steel mesh fence until Friendship Park, where the door is located, closed at 2 p.m.
“I spent a long time waiting for this,” Reyes told AFP in Spanish. “I believe that hope is the last thing that dies, and this is proof that things are possible.”
“The wall doesn’t really exist,” she continued. “It is there physically, but that’s it.”
“It’s a statement that love has no borders,” Houston told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Even though we are divided by a giant fence here, we can still love each other on both sides of the fence.”