Finding Love on a 14-Hour Layover

Despite being raised on different continents and residing in different countries, Andrea Mendoza and Victor Aguilera were not deterred from pursuing a relationship after they met in Munich during Oktoberfest in September 2016.

“She was pretty, smart, interesting — of course I had to keep in contact, even if the distance was huge,” Mr. Aguilera said. “We could talk a lot. It never got boring.”

Mr. Aguilera had taken a bus to Munich from Zurich, where he was living at the time. Ms. Mendoza, who was completing an architecture fellowship, flew from South Africa to the city, where she met Mr. Aguilera at a beer hall while on a 14-hour layover before flying to Brazil.

Both of Mexican descent, they bonded over their shared heritage and love of learning about different cultures. “We just had an instant connection,” recalled Ms. Mendoza.

Mr. Aguilera, 41, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, to a Mexican father and Swiss mother. When he was 10, he and his family moved to Jona, Switzerland. A graduate of the University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, Mr. Aguilera is currently a quality control and analytics lab technician at Carbogen AMCIS, a drug development and commercialization service, in Hunzenschwil, Switzerland.

Born and raised in Gilbert, Ariz., Ms. Mendoza, 29, graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016. Following her fellowship, she moved to Shanghai for a year to work at an architecture firm. In 2018, she relocated to Santa Fe, N.M., where she began working as an exhibition designer for Meow Wolf, a local arts production company.

In the years after they met in Munich, the two kept in touch sporadically, sending the occasional postcard and life update via WhatsApp. They reunited in Colombia in the spring of 2018, after Ms. Mendoza, on a whim, had invited Mr. Aguilera to join her on a five-day trip she had planned to Bogotá and Cartagena.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Two weeks after they parted ways at the end of that trip, Mr. Aguilera asked Ms. Mendoza to be his girlfriend. Though she “wasn’t really interested in dating” before they visited Colombia, Ms. Mendoza said their time there together made her reconsider.

“We had such a good time, I was like ‘Yeah, this absolutely makes sense to continue and see when we can meet up again,’” she said.

They spent the next year meeting in different locations around the world. On Nov. 15, 2019, Mr. Aguilera proposed to Ms. Mendoza while on a trip to Costa Rica for her birthday. In 2021, Ms. Mendoza moved to Switzerland, where she is currently studying for a master’s degree in advanced studies in architecture and digital fabrication at the ETH Zurich.

The couple were wed April 7 at the Schadau Castle in Thun, Switzerland, before 40 guests, almost all of whom were vaccinated. Stephanie Huber, a civil registrar with the local government, officiated.

The ceremony was followed by a boat ride on Lake Thun, during which the couple cut their wedding cake. Afterward, the newlyweds and their guests walked through the old town neighborhood to Thun Castle for a toast on its summer terrace. Later, a dinner and reception were held at the Congress Hotel Seepark in Thun.

After spending the early years of their relationship so far apart, Ms. Mendoza and Mr. Aguilera are most looking forward to enjoying the quieter aspects of living together in their new apartment in Lenzburg, Switzerland.

“It’s so nice to do the mundane things now,” the bride said. “We’ve done so much traveling and spent so much time apart that being home, setting up our apartment, getting things settled and making it a home is exciting.”

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