Madalina + Ruben—A picture-perfect love story

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In 2017, a Moldovan living in Portugal and a Peruvian living in Brazil, with a distance of 4,869 miles between them, started talking.

At the very beginning of the year, I received a message from a complete stranger, in response to a picture of a beach landscape I had posted on Instagram. He had asked me which beach it was. In my lack of interest, I didn’t even bother to check his profile. Assuming it was someone from Portugal, I only answered with the name and location of the beach. After some time without any contact, I received a message from him again. In one of these messages, he asked: “Are you from the SDARM?” The first things that popped into my head was, “Well, now I really have to answer him. Otherwise, we’re bound to meet at some conference, and he’ll only remember me as the girl that left him on read.”

Our messages became daily conversations when my family and I went to Moldova for my sister’s upcoming wedding. At the same time, Ruben traveled to Peru, which increased the distance between us (7,372 miles) plus the time difference. I woke up when he went to sleep. I went to sleep, and he woke up. What he didn’t know was that I didn’t reply to his “good night” messages so that the next day I would have a reason to write to him. We talked about church, culture, religion, family, music, and lots about photography, and as we got to know each other more, we started praying for each other.

The meet-cute

I returned to Portugal and Ruben to Brazil, and now we were talking on the phone almost every day. In December 2018, he came to Europe, visited several places, and we left our first date as his last destination. That meeting caused me so many butterflies in my stomach that I still feel it today when I think back. He met my entire family, including my kitten Zaura. I think his biggest fear was meeting Zaura and her disliking him, because he still asks me if I would have dated him if Zaura hadn’t liked him. We walked around a lot, ate a lot, got to know each other even more, and on December 24th we officially began our relationship. We spent about two weeks together until the day came for him to leave. Both of us cried as we said our goodbyes, but he left, leaving me with the promise that he would return.

In May 2019, I asked my parents for a trip to Brazil as a birthday present. Due to my studies, the most time I could spend away was one week. I traveled with my mother, for the first time in our lives, to a country so different from anything we knew and a new continent. I met his mother, family, and friends. It was amazing. In the blink of an eye, I had to go back to Portugal. The entire airport witnessed our tears. But I was returning with a feeling that our relationship would evolve into marriage in the future.

The proposal

In December 2019, Ruben moved to Portugal. We traveled with my sister and her family to Serbia, Hungary, and Italy. In 2020, the pandemic started, and we could only be grateful that we were together and not thousands of miles apart. It was then that Ruben asked me to marry him. I was taken completely by surprise, and I still don’t know how he managed it. He arranged everything with my Ukrainian cousin, who doesn’t speak Portuguese. But somehow it worked. In July, we went to the beach to photograph my niece for her birthday photoshoot. When I got there, I saw petals and candles in the sand. I stopped right away and said to Ruben, “Stop! Someone is already photographing there”. I only realized that it was all for me when I recognized the faces of some friends peeking out from behind the rocks.

The wedding

After that, the real challenge came. With the pandemic, we couldn’t book anything, because the laws changed all the time. It seemed that our wedding plans were paralyzed, and it was starting to become exasperating. It was then that we decided to set aside a special time to pray for our wedding every day.

And so, the miracles began to happen. In 2021, we received permission from the immigration authorities to get married, we received the appointment for the civil registry, the venue and other vendors aligned, and everything went perfectly, even if not exactly as we had planned.

On September 16, 2021, we got married in Moldova and began another adventure.

by Madalina

(Follow Madalina and Ruben on Instagram to catch all of their lovely photos!)

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