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Weddings: Gloria and Ramon Torres

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Weddings: Gloria and Ramon Torres

The nuptials of Ramon and Gloria Torres took two marriage proposals, a year of planning and a lot of help from their friends to pull off. Despite many bumps on the road, Ray, 52, and Gloria, 47, had a smooth, bump-free wedding at the Rock Church East County on May 23.

The El Cajon residents met in 2008, when Ray brought his ailing mother to University Care Center, where Gloria worked and is now the director of social services. She even attended Ray's wedding to his now-former wife, which took place at the nursing home before his mother passed away. At the time, Ray was a member of Victory Outreach Church and encouraged Gloria to attend.

"At that time, my life was spinning out of control," recalled Arizona native Gloria, who moved to San Diego in 1991. "I promised him I would go to church. I was in DUI classes and having a hard time fixing my life. When I finished the classes, I went to Victory Outreach Church and devoted my life to God. I wanted to do things right."

The two stayed friends, but drifted apart when Gloria switched to the Rock Church East County. Ray, who grew up in Golden Hill, talks freely about being in and out of prison in his 20s and 30s.

Gloria and Ramon Torres.

Now a rehabilitation assistant at Crestwood Chula Vista Mental Health Rehabilitation Center, Ray recounted hearing the voice of God while serving his last year in prison.

"I asked the prison pastor if I should be talking to him, or a psychiatrist," Ray said with a laugh. "It was a bigger power than I'd ever felt. The pastor suggested I study the Bible. That was the beginning of the transformation of my life. I got out of prison in 2008 a changed man."

Ray immediately joined Victory Outreach Church and stuck with it until his first marriage imploded. Gloria asked him to attend Rock Church with her.

"Gloria invited me because she didn't want me to go back to my (past)," he said. "Even though we weren't together, we had a little history. It's definitely a beautiful love story."

The Rock Church East County's congregation rallied around the couple. After their ceremony, officiated by Pastor Travis Gibson, church members quickly transformed the site into an alcohol-free party space for the reception.

"About seven people, all associated with the church, were involved in the wedding, and they had helpers," Gloria said. "Heather Murray designed the invitations and many helped with the decorations. My girlfriend who coordinated the catering had 10 people helping her. Another girlfriend was the day-of coordinator. I'm very blessed."

Gloria's eldest son gave the bride away. Her eldest daughter was her maid of honor, and her other three children and seven grandchildren attended. Her 3-year-old triplet granddaughters were the flower girls and three grandsons the ring bearers. Ray has no children, but his sister attended and his brother was best man.

Most brides choose their dress after the proposal, but Gloria found the right one beforehand. She went with a friend to a Once Gown Event, which is affiliated with Rock Church.

"I found the perfect dress. I purchased a $1,300 Maggie Sottero for $500!" Gloria exulted. "It fit me like a glove. Who does that? Pay $500 for something I might not even use. But Women's Christian Counseling was the beneficiary. It helps women in bad situations transition back into society."

When Ray first proposed to "my moon and stars," as he calls Gloria, things went awry. The ring wasn't quite right and severe back pain prevented him from getting down on one knee.

The new ring arrived at the jewelers when Gloria was visiting her sister, Frances, in Anaheim. Ray, happily pain-free, contacted her sibling and took the train north.

"It was the first time I met Frances, but I felt comfortable from Gloria sharing stuff about her to ask for help," he said. "We sat around and chatted. I waited for a cue.

"They ordered hors d'oeuvres and her husband winked at me. I got down on one knee and asked Gloria to marry me. She was like: ‘Wow, really?' When we told her we were all in on it, she was very touched."

Wedding Day

Couple: Gloria and Ray Torres

Date married: May 23, 2015

Location: Rock Church East County

Fun fact: A highlight for both Gloria and Ray was his removing her garter. "That was comical," Gloria said. "Ray and I have little in common except for Christ. I'm busy, active; he stays home and is more serious. When it came to the garter, he was so silly and entertaining. It took forever for him to pull it out and then he put it in his mouth and jumped around like a little puppy. Everyone was laughing."

Wood is a freelance writer.

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