MONTVALE, N.J. – Hundreds gathered in New Jersey to share a special day for a couple united by the tragedy of a terrorist bombing.
Sonia Stratis and Chris Tedeschi were married in Montvale on Saturday, a year and a day after the man convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 was released from a Scottish prison on humanitarian grounds.
The 28-year-old bride lost her father, Elia, in the 1988 bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. She walked down the aisle with his photo in her bouquet.
Tedeschi's father had married a woman whose previous husband had died in the bombing that killed 259 onboard — most of them Americans — and 11 on the ground. Tedeschi grew up with her three children.
The newlyweds were both from New Jersey but didn't meet until a 2008 memorial weekend in Crystal City, Va., that marked the 20th anniversary of the bombing. The memorial weekend had been organized by Sonia's mother and Chris' stepmother, and the couple say they instantly fell in love.
A crowd of about 230 at the Montvale Evangelical Free Church included about two dozen other relatives of Lockerbie victims.
The couple also received a note from President Barack Obama, wishing them the best as they start their new life together. "Though the pain of your shared loss brought you together, your wedding marks a new beginning and the start of a lifelong partnership," the president wrote.
Friends and family said the joyous event was a welcome distraction from thinking about the anniversary of Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi's release. Before his release, he had been the only person jailed for the 1988 bombing.
Doctors had given Al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, three months to live. A year later, he's living in Libya.
The flight he bombed had taken off from London's Heathrow Airport headed for New York, and many of the victims were from New Jersey and New York. New Jersey's senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, on Friday renewed calls for more details on the circumstances of his release. They sent a letter to the British, Scottish, Libyan and Qatari governments citing evidence of commercial pressures influencing his release.