International flair connected this pair SHARON NELSON AND JOSE "JJ" SOLER

Just Married

August 23, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Guests came from seven countries to see Sharon Nelson and Jose Juan "JJ" Soler marry at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Baltimore.

It was a fitting tribute for a couple who were each determined to marry someone with an international flair.

Sharon, 26, grew up in Lutherville, but spent a year living in Spain during college. She fell in love with the culture and the language and wanted to marry someone who would easily be able to converse with her in Spanish, she says.

JJ, 29, was born in the Philippines. He spent his formative years there and in Morocco, where his father currently serves as the honorary Philippine consul to Morocco. He is fluent in English, Spanish, French and the Philippine dialect of Tagalog.

Sharon and JJ met three years ago when they both worked at a company that provided international business assistance for firms around the world. JJ was a telecommunications specialist, fielding calls. Sharon monitored telephone communications for quality-assurance purposes.

She often found herself listening to JJ. "He always sounded really good," she recalls with a bit of a self-conscious giggle.

In January 1996, after a few conversations at company functions and social outings with their co-workers, Sharon and JJ began dating.

That July, JJ invited Sharon to attend his brother's wedding - in Casablanca, Morocco. The couple spent 10 days taking in the sights in Casablanca and Marrakech and visiting with JJ's family - a lively bunch who seem always to be joking and laughing, Sharon says.

Back in the United States, Sharon had already endeared herself to JJ's aunt, Enriqueta Barcelon, who serves as a surrogate mother to JJ because his parents are so far away. JJ lived at his aunt's house until his marriage and he and Sharon often spent weekends going out to eat or taking in movies with the rest of the family.

"When he brought Sharon over to meet me, I liked her and I told him, 'Don't let go of her.' He usually listens to my advice," Enriqueta says.

Though marriage crossed the couple's minds during their trip to Morocco, JJ didn't formally broach the idea until March 1997. Sharon accepted his proposal, but the couple kept their good news to themselves until JJ officially proposed and presented Sharon with a ring last October.

Their Aug. 15 wedding - on the day of the Catholic Church's Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary - was marked with Philippine Catholic traditions, including the laying of a special veil over the bridal couple. That ceremony had tremendous significance for JJ.

"It means that we're bound together and it's done in front of all these people so everyone knows that we will be tied to each other and spend the rest of our lives together," he explained.

The 140 guests - who came from around the United States, Morocco, the Philippines, Spain, Venezuela, England and Switzerland - included Sharon's parents, Gerald and Anne Nelson of Lutherville, and JJ's parents, Rafael and Josefina Soler of Morocco.

Sharon, a call review manager for Visa, and JJ, who's looking for a job in international relations, see frequent trips to Morocco in their future - first as a couple and then with their children. JJ would like to take Sharon to see the Philippines and she would like to introduce him to the family that sponsored her during her student-exchange days in Spain. An exotic destination they'd like to discover together is Tahiti, a place neither of them has ever been.

But that trip will have to wait. First came some needed rest and relaxation after their wedding - a honeymoon at a stateside port: Sanibel Island, Fla.

Pub Date: 8/23/98

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