On Oct. 23, as Vanessa Moya, 25, and Andres Lopez, 24, drove to their wedding ceremony on the beach at Point Dume, there were steel-gray clouds in the sky above and beads of rain on their windshield.
They couldn’t have been too surprised, because their ardent romance had been no more controllable than the weather.
The couple met in San José, Costa Rica, in February 2009. Moya, a recent UC Santa Barbara graduate, had just arrived there to work as a volunteer for UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. When Moya enrolled in a Spanish language course for foreigners, Lopez, a native Costa Rican, was the receptionist who welcomed her to the school. There was an immediate attraction between them, but neither had a clue the other was interested.
A week later, Moya went out dancing with friends and ran into Lopez. He was wearing aT-shirt with the Smurf sorcerer Gargamel, and her delight at seeing it broke the ice. They danced the merengue and salsa until closing time, and ended the evening with a kiss.
Because Moya planned to be in Costa Rica for only a few months, they were determined to keep their relationship light and casual. “We failed miserably at that,” she said. In July, she renewed her visa and they began living together.
In May 2010, Moya flew back to her parents’ home in Thousand Oaks to pave the way for Lopez to join her in August. She would get a job, save some money and find an apartment for them. He would apply for a student visa and attend culinary school here.They intended to spend a couple of years building the foundation for a life together before they got married.
But again, the relationship seemed to have a will of its own. “It was very hard being apart,” Lopez said. “That whole month I was without her was just terrible.”
They talked all the time via Skype, and during one of these conversations, he spontaneously proposed. Arranging his computer so that Moya could see him, he got down on one knee, formed a circle with his fingers to slip an imaginary ring on her finger, and asked her to marry him.
She answered, “Of course, of course!” as love once again steamrollered over their sensible intentions.
He flew to California straightaway, far ahead of schedule. Just before he arrived, Moya found a job with Bank of America. But everything else took a back seat to arranging their wedding.
Then, on their wedding day, the weather threatened to play havoc with their plans — a beach ceremony on the sand at Point Dume followed by a backyard reception for 65 guests at the home of Moya’s parents in Thousand Oaks. But as the couple reached the beach, small patches of blue sky began to appear through the clouds.
The bride, in a flowing white gown with a beaded empire waist, gave her vows in Spanish and the groom gave his in English. They kissed. And at exactly that moment, according to one guest, the sun at last broke through the clouds and beamed down on them.
For Jeanne Tanner, their photographer, the wedding brought to mind “The Princess Bride” — a movie about the kind of love that comes just once in a century. “I photograph couples every weekend,” she said, “but these guy were pretty ‘wow.’ ”
— Maxine Nunes Custom Publishing Writer