NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (AFP) - A US citizen on Wednesday married her Mexican fiancée on a raft on the river border between their two countries, a unique ceremony designed to meet US immigration requirements.
Ms Stephanie Guerra, 26, and Mr Ruben Alfonso Fierro, 27, defied the swirling currents of the Rio Grande and boarded a Zodiac raft that took them from the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo to the United States.
Ms Guerra is a US citizen, but Mr Fierro is not. The couple have four young children, all US citizens. Mr Fierro had been living for years in the United States but had not legally immigrated.
When he temporarily left the country, he was not allowed to return.
The fastest way for the family to reunite was to tie the knot in the United States.
Ms Guerra and Mr Fierro cleverly took advantage of an 1848 treaty that allows free navigation for both sides along the Rio Grande, the river that forms nearly half of the 3,200km-long US border with Mexico.
Judge Hector Liendo from Laredo, Texas climbed aboard the couple's raft - in the river but technically in US territory - and held the ceremony that legally bound the couple until death does them apart.
US law enforcement personnel stood nearby just to make sure that none of the people aboard the raft, which included Mexican relatives, did not set foot on US soil.
While binational couples have married on bridges between the two countries for years, this is the first time that a marriage takes place on the Rio Grande river, according to the Big River Foundation, the US-based environmentalist group that sponsored the event.
Mr Fierro told reporters that the marriage will now make it easier for him to legally immigrate to the United States and return to his family.