Karla and Jason De Los Reyes hiked the Camino de Santiago from Sarria to Santiago, Spain, in the days leading up to their Dec. 12, 2019, wedding. CNS photo/courtesy De Los Reyes family

Couple takes the long road to wedding

By  Mary Stachyra Lopez, Catholic News Service
  • February 23, 2020

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It’s sometimes said that life is a journey. For Karla and Jason De Los Reyes, preparing for their new life together involved a literal journey — travelling 120 kilometres on foot along the Camino de Santiago in the days leading up to their wedding in Spain.

The couple, who are parishioners of the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, had both hiked the Camino individually — Karla in 2015, Jason in 2018. As they thought about where to get married, they considered El Salvador, where Karla is from originally, and Texas, where Jason is from.

But nothing struck a chord quite like “the Way,” which pilgrims have travelled to the final resting place of the apostle St. James the Greater since the 10th century.

“We referred to our wedding planning as a camino,” said Karla, a kindergarten teacher.

Armed with a 25-page spreadsheet, the couple zigzagged through Spanish bureaucracy, sans wedding planner, to line everything up for a Catholic wedding last December. They got married Dec. 12 at a former monastery, the Pazo de San Lorenzo in Santiago.

“We had a lot of support from our families,” Jason told the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper. “We packed everything for the wedding and left it with her parents to bring to Spain.” 

Once they arrived at Sarria, the couple spent three-and-a-half days walking 120 of the more than 1,400 km designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

“There were moments of bliss when we could see the sun rise, or when we would see birds flying side by side, we’d say, ‘That’s like us,’ ” said Karla.

The journey also included things that didn’t go according to plan. On the second day, they only ate once because all the cafes were closed for the low season.

On the third day, they arrived at a cafe at 10:30 a.m., only to find the proprietor wouldn’t make anything except coffee until the afternoon. They filled their empty stomachs with lattes until a larger, more persuasive, group arrived.

It was all a part of the experience, they said.

“Under less than ideal conditions we were able to make the best of it,” said Jason. 

“I learned that he is very patient,” Karla added. “I learned that we could be very trusting toward each other and toward God. I learned that we could see the fun in our own misery.”

They would recommend the experience to anyone, single or married.

“I think whatever you have going on in your relationship will be amplified by the Camino,” said Jason. “If there’s something that annoys you about your partner, that will come out. But if you have a strong foundation, that will be amplified.”

The couple said they walked away from the experience with much more than stamps in their Camino passports and certificates of completion.

“I think if we can do the Camino together, we can get through life together,” said Jason. “It just felt like this was God’s plan for us.”

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