https://www.thestar.com/life/together/celebration/2022/01/30/for-rhiana-guerra-and-tristan-de-rushe-online-friends-turned-lovers-two-weddings-were-better-than-one.html

Addictions and mental-health student Rhiana Guerra and automotive-service technician Tristan De Rushe’s love story began online, all the way back when they were high school teenagers. They were e-introduced on Skype in 2009 by De Rushe’s cousin Brendan, who went to the same school as Guerra. Brendan thought they might hit it off due to their mutual love of photography.

Tristan was smitten right away. His opening line? “I’m gonna marry you someday.”

And 11 years later, De Rushe did just that.

Since De Rushe lived in Scarborough and Guerra in Whitby, they got to know each other over the next few years via video chat and instant message. Despite De Rushe’s initial proclamation, there wasn’t much romance initially, but they became best friends, talking for hours at a time about everything from De Rushe’s love of classic “SpongeBob SquarePants” episodes to Rhiana’s burgeoning Tumblr presence.

Because of the distance, they didn’t meet each other in person for three years, when Guerra ran into him at a supermarket by her house in 2012. It felt a little like fate, considering he lived nowhere near there (he was at the store with the same cousin who introduced them online all those years earlier). Guerra thought, “This must be true love, because my parents met in a supermarket, too.”

This time, the spark was immediate and De Rushe asked Guerra to hang out IRL at last. “Our first date ever was a photography date. He was like, ‘Let me show you some of my tricks,’” Guerra says. They hung out every day for a week straight. On the last day, De Rushe asked her to be his girlfriend. She said yes, and their adventure began, filled with fun dinner dates and a Niagara Falls vacation every Valentine’s Day.

In 2018, De Rushe executed Guerra’s dream proposal. After buying the ring a year and a half before, he plotted how to pop the question at Guerra’s preferred spot: Caribana. De Rushe managed to get down on one knee – right in the middle of the parade. “She saw the ring and didn’t know what to do,” he says with a laugh. “We actually went viral. Somebody else saw, started filming, and we were featured on 6ixBuzz.”

The wedding scheduled for fall 2020, they decided to go ahead mid-pandemic with a smaller guest list and then have a second, bigger ceremony once restrictions eased up the following year. Thankfully, Guerra had scored most of the things they needed for wedding number one pre-lockdown, including Mr. and Mrs. Skeleton décor and De Rushe’s handmade arch and cake stand.

Their held the first wedding on the Ajax waterfront, at Carruthers Marsh Pavilion – where Guerra had once spent a summer serving ice cream – with just 17 of their dearest in attendance, plus a photographer. The couple had a sand ceremony, in which they each poured a different colour of sand into a vase. “Now it’s a piece of art in our house,” Guerra says. “Even though [the sands] were two different colours, once they’re together, it’s impossible to separate them.”

“I cried, I’m so sappy. I really enjoyed that wedding,” De Rushe says. “The small amount of people made the nerves a little easier.”

Thankfully, by the time their second wedding rolled around in fall 2021, at Twist Gallery, he was well-prepared for a bigger head count of 52. Having the wedding on Queen Street West was important to Guerra as that’s where she and De Rushe hung out on their first date. During this ceremony, they performed a broom-jumping ritual to honour their ancestors. “My granny really wanted us to jump the broom the year before,” Guerra says, “because during slavery, they would jump the broom to signify marriage.”

It was at this wedding they were finally allowed a DJ, too, letting them boogie the night away. “I danced the entire night,” Guerra says, “from when the dance floor opened, until it closed at 2 a.m.”

All the wedding speeches referenced De Rushe’s legendary passion for SpongeBob – something that Guerra thinks bodes well for a long and happy marriage. “Everyone kept talking about SpongeBob, and his aunt made a really good point that when Tristan loves, he loves something hard,” she says. “When he loves you, he loves you forever.”

THE DETAILS

Wedding No. 1

Photographer Natalie Prus Photography

Officiant Hazel Shanks

Dress shop Norma Reed

Venue Carruthers Marsh Pavilion

Wedding No. 2

Photographer Natalie Prus Photography

Videographer Yuri Rabin Videography

Officiant Hazel Shanks

DJ Golden DjQ

Dress shop Mona Richie

Dress designer Enzoani

Makeup artist Darlin Castillo

Venue Twist Gallery

SPECIAL TO THE STAR