LUMBERTON — A Lumberton man will share his love story with millions of viewers on the popular TLC original series “90 Day Fiancé.”
Jonathan, a 32-year-old businessman, will be featured on the show with his significant other Fernanda, 19, from Guanajuato, Mexico.
The series documents the lives of Jonathan and Fernanda, and five other couples, whose last names are not revealed for show purposes, as they work to reunite in the United States and tie the knot within 90 days through the K-1 fiancé visa. If the couple do not marry within the 90 days, they risk losing love because their significant others must return to their home countries.
During the 90-day period, the couples will meet families and friends, adjust to different cultures and plan a wedding. Jonathan and Fernanda’s storyline will focus on these struggles and adapting to a 13-year gap in age.
“Planning a wedding was very difficult,” Jonathan said. “Juggling business when you’re used to working 16 to 18 hours a day and totally adapting your lifestyle, it’s been difficult for Fernanda and I.”
“It’s been really difficult but we’re excited,” Fernanda said. “A lot of interesting things happen.”
The couple met in Mexico at a club two years ago. After the meeting, Jonathan extended his trip an extra three days and proposed just three months later, a decision he does not regret.
“I knew she was something special when I met her, and you don’t get that feeling all the time,” he said. “I knew it the moment I felt it.”
“You don’t go on vacation and expect to get proposed to,” Fernanda said.
Before meeting Jonathan, she had never left her home. It was a culture shock when she finally did move nearly 2,000 miles from the city of Guanajuato to Lumberton, she said.
“It was very emotional,” Fernanda said about leaving home. “I never thought in my life, I would leave me town and my family.”
Having the cameras document that struggle was a challenge, Jonathan said.
“It was very difficult. Just imagine coming to a different country, learning a new language, obviously adapting to a new culture. Obviously Lumberton is very different from where she’s from,” Jonathan said. “The food is very different from home. She has not found anything she likes to eat.”
Despite the struggles, Fernanda said she is adjusting to the change and appreciates the “quiet.”
“Everything is different,” Fernanda said. “It’s new for me and I like it.”
Jonathan, a Chicago native, came to Robeson County to play baseball at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke for two years and then went on to work in Lumberton, where he established roots. He is now a real estate broker and owns Rivera Realty Group, Keller Williams Realty. Jonathan said it was never part of the plan to do the show and came as a surprise to his family.
“I let them know via social media,” Jonathan said. “I didn’t really consult my family. You can imagine how that went.”
Jonathan said his sister wrote a letter to the show just a year ago about Jonathan and Fernanda’s story, and he had a co-worker who had a family member that worked on the staff. He said that it was a combination of the two that ultimately got them on the show.
At the last minute the couple was going to back out of the show but changed their minds.
“We let them know ‘Sorry you guys, we’re not going to do the show. Thank you for the opportunity. We don’t think it’s right for us,’” Jonathan said.
The couple later changed their minds and made the decision to move forward.
“It’s something crazy,” Fernanda said. “It took a lot for us to make this decision but finally, of course, we are so excited.”
Not all couples on the show will make it down the aisle, which is the angle of the show.
“You’ll have to watch the show to find out,” Jonathan said.
The sixth season of 90 Day Fiancé will premiere on the TLC network Oct. 21 at 8 p.m Eastern time.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair by phone at 910-416-5865 or [email protected]