Couple honors Whatcom family tradition

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 6, 2014 

Tyson and Mandy Clarke were married by Tyson's father, Steve, just three months after he officiated at another son's wedding.

LINDSAY SCHUTTE — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

When it comes to weddings, family traditions tend to make their way into the plans.

For Tyson Clarke, that meant proposing to his then-girlfriend, Mandy, in the same spot her own father had proposed to her mother years before.

Mandy's grandparents own land on Lake Whatcom, and their house has always been a popular hangout for the family. Once Tyson knew that he wanted to propose at the beachfront property, he enlisted the help of a couple of friends.

He had Mandy's father take her to the store while he lined the dock with flowers and candles. When Mandy arrived, it started pouring down rain, but Tyson had prepared for the unpredictable November weather and had an umbrella.

"I set up two chairs and a projector screen to show photos of our eight-year journey together," Tyson says. "After I proposed, I gave a signal to my friends, who were out on the lake in paddle boats, and they set off fireworks."

Although the original dock where Mandy's parents became engaged had been replaced earlier, her father saved a board from the end of the dock and converted it into a bench. Both Mandy and her sister used the bench as the altar at their weddings.

Immediately after the proposal, when Tyson and Mandy returned to the house, all of their friends and family, from as far away as Seattle, were waiting to help them celebrate their engagement.

"That was the cherry on top," Mandy says.

They were married July 5, 2013, at Evergreen Gardens in Ferndale.

Mandy and Tyson met early in high school and have been together ever since. Because they had been together so long, they had gathered many mutual friends, which was apparent by the size of their wedding party - the bride and groom each had nine people at their side.

"It was very special," Tyson says. "We had a decade of people who had seen us grow up together."

Tyson's father, Bellingham educator Steve Clarke, married the couple on a warm, sunny day. Just three months earlier, he had presided over the marriage of Tyson's older brother.

"My little brother is next," Tyson says, laughing. "I don't think he'll have the choice. It's kind of fun because our dad is our hero."

Tyson and a few of his groomsmen, who all worked for local wedding planner Steve Moore at one point or another, arranged the flowers for the wedding. Moore helped out by ordering the flowers from local farms, and the young men got together and made up the bouquets.

The couple hosted about 180 people at their reception, where Gusto Wood Fired Pizza of Bellingham fed the crowd and Sirena Gelato of Fairhaven served up dessert.

Mandy and Tyson now live in Issaquah. Tyson works in sales and communication; Mandy is a first-grade teacher in Redmond.

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