Bride of the Week: Maria Betancourth

Going the Distance

After nearly 6 years spent thousands of miles apart, Maria and Junior wed at a celebration full of family, friends and love.
Memory Montage Photography

Long distance romances aren’t anything new. They are time-honored tests of the strength of a bond between the couple. But when the boyfriend courting you is over 7,000 miles away—on military duty in Iraq—you can be sure the relationship that stands up to this kind of stress is a keeper.

When Maria Ruiz first met Abdias Betancourth (called Junior) in 2007, she knew what she was in for. Introduced by their mothers near Yakima, Washington, Junior was home from his second tour of duty as a U.S. Marine when he met Maria, then a graduate student studying School Counseling at Eastern Washington University. Even though Maria fell for Junior quickly, “I was head over heels, nothing had ever felt so natural and real,” she says, their relationship took a slower pace as she finished her degree and he had to return to his military base in North Carolina.

Then after his third tour from Iraq, things got serious. “Family is a huge part of our culture so Junior proposed in front of both of our families during his sister’s baptism reception,” recalls the bride. After saying yes, the bride got down to the business of planning, as she jokes, “our huge Mexican wedding.” She’s only partly kidding. It took a year and half to organize an event for a whopping 450 guests.

On June 9, 2012, Maria hosted a vibrant affair at Spring Creek Homestead, a 19-acre farm first settled in 1865. The fact that the location celebrated the outdoors appealed to Maria, who comes from a family of farmers. She even designed the reception’s table centerpieces to include apples, one of the fruits her family grows.

Vivid hot pink and purple were chosen as the wedding’s colors. Bridesmaids’ dresses were purple and bouquets were filled with bright pink Gerbera daisies and roses. The contrast between these colors and the bride in her beaded, strapless mermaid-style gown by Allure as she walked down the aisle at the Catholic Church Resurrection was breathtaking—and dramatic.

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