Steve Smith, 42, said he fell in love with Carmen Ruiz-Perez, 42, while she was visiting Paignton, England, from her native Spain to learn English, The Daily Mail reported Monday.
He said they split in 1993 when Ruiz-Perez moved to Paris to run a boutique but he never stopped thinking about her and sent a letter to her mother's address in 1998 hoping to reconnect with his old flame. However, Ruiz-Perez's mother placed the letter atop her fireplace and it fell behind it, not to be seen again until Ruiz-Perez's mother found it last year.
Smith said Ruiz-Perez called the number he left her in the letter and they met a few days later in Paris, the newspaper said.
"When we met at the airport it was like a film. Finding each other again was fate. It is one of those things that was meant to be," Smith told The Daily Mail. "We are both so gobsmacked. It is such an incredible story how we ended up together again. We never stopped thinking about each other but both thought the other one had moved on and married and had children."
Smith said he and Ruiz-Perez are planning to marry July 17.