A proposal in his childhood room

Despite Carlos Montoya’s desire to settle down, many life transitions, including a move to the Middle East, have left him on the starting line when it comes to finding the right partner.

In the summer of 2014, Mr. Montoya, 39, met Rebecca Stella on a boat in Miami. “I noticed Rebecca as soon as she got on board,” he says. “She was beautiful. I kept staring at her, trying to decide how and when I was going to make my move.

Their eyes met, but Ms Stella, 31, looked away and joined her friends. Later that afternoon, when she was sitting alone in the back of the boat, he came over and sat down next to her.

“I could tell immediately that Carlos was special – and a good person,” Ms. Stella said. The next day, Mr. Montoya sent him a friend request on Facebook. She had no idea he was seriously interested in her. So the gesture went unnoticed and she started a relationship with someone else a few months later.

Over the next two years, they met at parties in Miami, where they both lived, but she was in a relationship. It wasn’t until the spring of 2017 that Mr. Montoya learned that she was newly single.

The day he learned that she was no longer in a relationship, he was invited to a party with friends, including Ms. Stella. But he was not feeling well and declined the invitation. A few weeks later, he organized a beach day in Miami Beach with several friends and invited Ms. Stella.

“As I learned, Carlos is not much of a planner, so I was very surprised to find months after the day at the beach that he had coordinated the outing to spend time with me,” said Ms. Stella said. “I’m so glad he did.

The day at the beach continued in an all-night affair that included dinner and drinks with the group of friends. They spent the whole night talking and getting to know each other.

Several days later, Mr. Montoya invited Ms. Stella to join him for a run with his local running club, followed by a swim in his pool. While in the pool it started to rain and the two shared a romantic first kiss.

The couple started dating regularly. In 2019, they celebrated Christmas in Tampa with Mr. Montoya’s family. He proposed in his childhood bedroom. One of his gifts was a newspaper. When it got to the front page, the entry read, “What’s left for 2019: will you marry me?” He then knelt down in front of her bed, presented her with a ring and asked again, “Will you marry me?” She said yes.

In February 2020, Mr. Montoya, CFO of KFC Latin America in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., And Ms. Stella, head of strategic partnerships at Northrop & Johnson, a yacht brokerage firm also in Fort Lauderdale, purchased their first there. house just before the start of the pandemic.

“Some couples got on their nerves after spending weeks and months together in quarantine,” Ms. Stella said. “Carlos and I had fun setting up our new home and helping each other organize the wedding.”

The couple tied the knot on March 26, 2021 at Villa Woodbine, an event space in Coconut Grove, Florida. Mr. Montoya’s friend Tamara Brenes, ordained by the US marriage ministries, officiated. Each of the 115 guests who attended the ceremony and outdoor reception were tested for Covid-19 before attending the wedding.

“It was even more beautiful than I had hoped,” said Ms. Stella. “Everything during the day was absolutely perfect.”

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