Love At the Border: U.S. Citizen Marries Mexican Fiancé in Unique Rio Grande Ceremony

The young couple got married on a raft that carried them on the swirling currents of border river Rio Grande to U.S. territory. The marriage is completely legal because of a 165-year-old treaty that allow both U.S. and Mexican citizens to navigate freely on the river.

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John Moore / Getty Images

A border patrol agent looks at the Rio Grande river


Love truly knows no boundaries — not even the heavily monitored U.S.-Mexico border.

In a unique ceremony thatAgence France Presse reported meets all applicable U.S. immigration laws, an American citizen married her Mexican fiancé on Apr. 11 on a raft that carried them to across the river separating Mexico from the U.S.

The marriage takes advantage of an 1848 treaty that allowed freedom of navigation on both sides on Rio Grande, which forms almost 1,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Stephanie Guerra, 26, wed Ruben Alfonso Fierro, 27, on a Zodiac raft taking them from the Mexico border town of Nuevo Laredo to American shores.

(More: On Patrol Along the U.S.-Mexico Border)

According to AFP, Fierro told reporters that he hoped the marriage would speed up his immigration process and help him reunite with his family. The couple has four young children, all U.S. citizens. But Fierro, who never legally immigrated, was barred from returning to the U.S. after leaving the country.

The wedding was officiated by Judge Hector Liendo of Laredo, Tex., and supervised by U.S. law enforcement officers, who stood nearby to make sure that none of the Mexican relatives on the raft set foot on U.S. soil.

According to the Big River Foundation, a U.S.-based environmental group that sponsored the event, the nuptials mark the first time that a binational couple has been married in mid-river. The more traditional method,notes the Laredo Sun, is to exchange vows in the middle of the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, in the Mexican state ofTamaulipas. According to Big River Foundation, about 20 percent of all marriage licenses filed in Webb County, Texas are for the ceremony at bridge, in which Americans stand on the U.S. side and Mexican nationals on the other side. Liendo, who also conducts a lot of these ceremonies, told the Laredo Sun that this is “common practice” and couples begin the immigration process after they get the marriage records.

(More: Marijuana, By Air: Mexican Gangs Use Cannon to Hurl Drugs Across U.S. Border)