I met Benjie and his family about 15 years ago when I photographed his Bar Mitzvah. I was thrilled to be asked to photograph his wedding!
Arlen grew up on a farm in rural Nicaragua. Benjie, after graduation from University, volunteered with an organization called Pro Nica which provided support to the farmer’s coop in Achuapa. His first stop was a nearby town for some language training. There he met an American woman who had been volunteering in Achuapa. She played match maker and told Arlen she really needed to meet this guy. It took one week in Achuapa for Arlen and Benjie to start a romance. After a year they decided they were committed to each other. Arlen told Benjie he needed to ask her father for permission to marry her, as was the custom in Nicaragua. Arlen’s dad was the last to know but everyone colluded to make him think he was the first. He told Benjie Arlen was an adult and he needed to ask her. Benjie soon became welcomed into the family and was loved by all.
Benjie returned to Seattle alone and began preparations for Arlen to join him. After a lengthy visa process and help from Senator Patty Murray’s office, Arlen arrived in May of 2008. Within a week we held a civil ceremony in the back yard so her application for permanent residence could be filed. One year later, in July of 2009 they held a Jewish wedding and celebration with friends and family. Rabbi Daniel Septimus from Temple De Hirsch Sinai performed the wedding ceremony.