Wang-DeCock engagement announcement becomes most read Forum online story of year
Austin DeCock had his reservations.
But like any man who's trying to keep his bride-to-be happy, he went along with fiancée Tara Wang's desire to have their wedding engagement published last Sunday in The Forum and on Inforum.com despite years of mutually difficult lessons to the contrary.
And so the Wang-DeCock engagement ran. And some chuckles were had.
But Austin and Tara weren't prepared for what came next, affirming - if it was ever needed - that the world enjoys a bit of juvenile humor far more than we'd like to think.
The engagement announcement with the unlikely name combination was Inforum's most popular item every day last week and, as of Friday, became the website's most popular "story" this year, with more than 45,000 individuals clicking on it and some 175 people e-mailing it to friends. This, in a year when major floods, murders and big-name deaths commanded the community's attention.
It didn't take long for the Wang-DeCock engagement to find its way all over the World Wide Web through the "link economy." Nationally syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry featured it on his blog. The Onion, a popular medium of spoof news, mentioned it. A.V. Club, another oft-visited news-of-the-weird site, had this to say about it:
"There is a part of me that thinks 'Beavis and Butt-head' was the pinnacle of television. That same part of me also finds this wedding announcement hilarious."
And Tara and Austin are heartily laughing along with everyone. After all, it's not as if they haven't heard all the jokes before.
"My name is worse than hers," says Austin, a mental health practitioner in Detroit Lakes, Minn. "I've heard everything from everybody since childhood."
Tara, a Sanford Health employee, says her younger brother took way more ribbing than she did while growing up in Moorhead.
His name is Peder.
Interestingly, the medium that's now spreading their engagement announcement all over the world helped bring them together. They met on eHarmony.com, a matchmaking website that purports to match the compatibility of potential partners. But they didn't know each other's last names until their first date about a year ago at a Moorhead restaurant, followed by bowling.
"We had a lot in common," Austin says of their first date. "We clicked right away."
Tara says they did talk about the jokes often brought about by their last names. "I think I mentioned that wouldn't it be interesting if we ended up together, and we sort of had a ha-ha over it," she says.
And they're still laughing, noticeably excited to be getting married Oct. 16 in Moorhead and making their home in Detroit Lakes.
And while the personal wedding announcements and mailing labels use their first names and not their last names, Tara says she's honored to take Austin's last name for the rest of her life, adding that the two have never contemplated changing their names over all the trouble.
They'd also like to have children, knowing full well the name-calling and jokes that are likely to follow their kids through life.
"I survived," Austin says. "It builds character."