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Metro In Love: Engaged Couple Maria Fabiana And Tanner Mata On Their Dream Wedding

The two talk about life in quarantine, preparing for their dream wedding, and being together 24/7

A pandemic isn’t enough to stop two hearts from claiming what they’ve always deserved and longed for: the promise of true love found in the tender arms of one’s best friend. 

This past July, on a boat cruising Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, surrounded by family and friends, Tanner Mata got down on one knee and asked Maria Fabiana to be his, forever. “I thought you’d never ask,” she said then, and the pair has never been happier.

When we sat down to chat with Maria and Tanner, they had just recently moved from Minnesota to Colorado, and were in the process of settling in. Over Zoom, they talked about life in quarantine, preparing for their dream wedding, and being together “24/7.” 

The former Pinoy Big Brother housemates met each other in 2016, at a birthday dinner for Tanner, who now does real estate in Denver. At the time, Maria, now gearing up to launch a sustainable bikini brand, was still with someone else. “She told me right away that she had a boyfriend. She’s a very loyal girl,” Tanner says. 

It would take them a year after Maria’s breakup with her ex for them to begin dating. “We were already friends for a very long time,” Maria says. “We never lost touch. When I was living in Hong Kong, he came to visit me, and we reconnected then started dating.” 

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You give me butterflies 🦋🦋

A post shared by Maria Fabiana (@mariafabiana_) on

Their courtship wasn’t always smooth-sailing. When they entered PBB, they had already been going out together. But after leaving the house, they were advised not to be together or share their love story with anybody. “People in the Philippines tend to create love teams in their heads and they become very passionate about it,” Maria explains. “It was difficult.” 

Still, nothing was going to stop them and what they were feeling for each other. Maria shares, “After he exited the house, he said, ‘I still love you. I still wanna be with you,’ and I said, ‘I also wanna be with you.’” Four years later, here they are, closer and happier than ever, and in the midst of preparing for their big day.

In March, Tanner bought the engagement ring and had already planned on proposing when COVID-19 hit. “I held onto it for five months, then I was like, I have to do it somehow because she was supposed to leave soon.” Tanner’s family helped out with planning the proposal, which they kept very simple, yet special: “We rented a big boat on the lake and told everybody a day in advance to be on the boat. Everyone showed up. It was good timing—the weather ended up being perfect.”

The weather wasn’t the only thing that was perfect that day: Their smiles were, too, and the love that emanated from both of them. 

Maria shares that they’ve begun looking at venues, but because of the pandemic, they haven’t put the money down on anything just yet. “What if we set a date and things are not back to normal? It’s tough,” she says. There’s also the added difficulty of the pandemic-imposed travel ban, making it a challenge to bring her family from Brazil to the United States. 

But the logistics of the wedding doesn’t mean that Maria hasn’t imagined what that special day will look like. “I want to be married barefoot,” she says. “I don’t want to wear anything on my feet because at the moment I get married, I want to be touching the ground. I want to enter that relationship with my feet on the ground.”

She reveals that she’s always wanted to get married close to nature, somewhere green, because she believes that it signifies growth. “I want us to grow more and more,” she adds. 

The young couple’s love for each other is clear from the get-go. Whether on Instagram or in real life, their affection and passion for each other radiates from within, and it shows. “He is my best friend above all,” Maria says of her fiancé. “He’s always there for me. When I have breakdowns and I feel like I can’t go any further or I can’t do anything else, he's always there to help me out and he always reminds me that I can do anything.”

Tanner, of course, feels the same, sharing that what he loves the most about his partner is her positivity. “She’s happy 99% of the time and that really helps me through the day, especially during hard times or when the world’s rough,” he says. He and Maria’s relationship are undeniably based not just on love, but on friendship, most importantly. 

They’ve experienced pivotal moments in their relationship, from doing things long-distance to almost buckling under the weight of stress and work. But they find the good in everything: After being apart for six months because of a job in Chicago, Maria surprised him. “I jumped out of the car, he was crying, I was crying, we were just so excited to see each other,” she gushes. “I have a video of it that she keeps replaying,” Tanner says, to which Maria joyously replies and laughs: “It’s so good!” 

This beautiful and unsullied energy between the two of them makes them not just a couple to root for, but a couple to aspire to, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.

Lead photo from @mariafabiana_

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