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Unable to cross, Canby family meets daughter at U.S.-Canada border on her wedding day

COURTESY PHOTO: RON PETERS - Matt and Liz Peters (center) met their families at the U.S.-Canada border on May 9, their wedding day. On the left are Ron and Marilyn Peters. On the right are Tim, Hannah and Heather Barton.

"Sad-sweet" is how Tim Barton described his daughter's big day. The Barton family could not enter Canada to witness the wedding ceremony, but they did meet at the border to see the bride glowing in her gown.

Tim is the senior pastor at Canby Alliance Church. His daughter, Liz Barton, is a Canby grad who met her now-husband Matt Peters online, according to the couple's public wedding page. Matt is from Abbotsford, British Columbia, where Liz lives and works as an oncology nurse.

The two had invited guests to a May 9 wedding ceremony but had to call it off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the couple gathered at a picturesque farm outside Abbotsford to tie the knot that day with only the maid of honor, the best man, the pastor and photographers in attendance.

Shortly afterward, Matt surprised Liz with a parade at the road, where at least 35 cars shuffled through to honk, wave and greet the happy couple.

"That really added to the joy and specialness of the day," Tim said.

COURTESY PHOTO: RON PETERS - Wedding 'guests' parade by to help Matt and Liz Peters celebrate their big day outside Abbotsford, British Columbia on May 9.

But notably missing from the quaint event were the couple's families.

The pandemic has not only restricted gatherings, but it has also closed the U.S.-Canada border. This of course prevented Liz's parents, Tim and Heather Barton, and her sister Hannah Barton from attending. Matt's parents, Ron and Marilyn Peters, opted not to attend out of consideration for the Bartons.

And therein lies the "sad-sweetness."

"My daughter was very, very sad that we couldn't be there to see her get married and I wasn't able to walk her down the aisle," Tim said. "We're sad because we couldn't be there. I'm sad because, you know, I didn't get to walk her down the aisle. It was a memorable event in their lives, so there's sadness.

"But there's lots of joy," he added. "We're happy they got married. We were supportive of them getting married. It's all about them."

Even though they could not attend in-person, the Bartons did get as close as they could, driving up to Washington state to watch the wedding online before the meeting at the border.

"We watched it on Zoom from our motel room in Bellingham…while we were drinking champagne out of a can," Tim said. "Not the way it was supposed to be, but the way it ended up."

COURTESY PHOTO: RON PETERS - The happy couple celebrates at the border with Liz's family, the Bartons.

Then the Bartons drove to the Sumas, Washington area to meet at the border ditch and finally see Liz and her new husband on the other side. Matt's parents joined there as well.

"It was memorable in a way that we never, ever would have dreamed," Tim said. "The whole thing was kind of surreal—seeing your daughter and her husband 10 feet away in their wedding dress and suit and all, and yet you weren't there to witness it and you can't touch them or hug them. But it was great to talk with them. It was great to see them. We talked, we laughed, they told us about everything, we took pictures. That was all very special."

According to a Facebook post from Ron, Matt said, "It was the best day of our lives."

The newlyweds had planned to visit Europe for their honeymoon, but that too was canceled. Instead they ventured down the road to Kanloops, British Columbia where they are hiking and, according to Tim, "having a good time."

Kristen Wohlers
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