SEPTEMBER 7, 2003
Right after Tyler and Rachael Mason uttered their vows atop Washington Park this September, thunder rolled and an all-out rainstorm began.
Luckily, all wasn't ruined in the downpour. In fact, the opposite occurred. When the guests huddled underneath tents rented in anticipation of such weather, the experience brought the Barths and the Masons--who are as different as the Montagues and the Capulets--closer together.
Rachael Barth, the oldest of five siblings, grew up in a conservative Christian household in Hubbard, Ore. Tyler Mason was raised by his mother, a vegan, with two siblings in an exuberant Irish/Italian extended family in Portland.
After high school, Tyler, now 26, pursued the arts and learned about tattooing from a close friend. Rachael, now 22, moved to Portland to study at a Bible college, although that endeavor only lasted one year.
When Rachael first met Tyler in June of '02 (she was painting houses on the same street where he lived), she found him immediately familiar--so familiar that she wasn't nervous about going over to a near stranger's house for their first date.
"I was excited," she says. "I was looking forward to having someone to date."
Rachael's parents were happy when their oldest daughter called last summer to tell them that she'd met a cute guy. She said Tyler was an artist she'd met on a house-painting job. She said he took her out to dinner and bought her flowers.
What the parents didn't realize, even when Rachael brought Tyler to Thanksgiving dinner months later, was that the couple's relationship was developing at lightning speed.
In February '03, the couple announced their plans to live together. Rachael's parents were apprehensive. "We talked about it and prayed about it," says Rachael's mom, Darcy. "We were concerned because we didn't know him. But they're adults, and there's not much we could do."
Tyler's mother and stepfather, on the other hand, were thrilled. "I was not worried at all," says Gabriella, his mother. "Tyler is a very spiritual person who listens to that deep, inner voice. I know he's capable of loving someone that much."
Both families were pleased when another announcement came later that May: The couple was getting married.
Rachael and Tyler say they know that part of her parents' happiness was also a sense of relief. "They were glad we weren't 'living in sin,'" Tyler says.
The couple, who now work side by side in their own Vancouver tattoo and piercing shop-cum-art gallery (she's the owner/bookkeeper, he's the "big picture" man and tattoo artist), didn't think they were rushing things. "I think we were both looking for that person," Rachael says.
Their wedding was a patchwork affair, with both families working to make the day memorable.
Rachael's mom, who makes costumes for religious plays, sewed Rachael's wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses. Tyler's family financed a portion of the festivities, including a limousine and a night for the couple at downtown's Hotel Vintage Plaza.
"In the end," says Gabriella, "we wanted to create a space for people to share in their love and joy."
That mission, it seems, was accomplished. "It turned out great," says the mother of the groom.