OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - A Western Kentucky couple said “I do” only days before he leaves for basic training.
21-year-old Tyler Keown and his girlfriend, Natalie, have been together for more than three years, so their marriage didn’t come as a surprise. However, one special guest did.
Tyler decided to enlist in the Marines only weeks ago with the on-going tension in the Middle East. Tyler was sworn in at the Military Entrance Processing Station.
Racing against the clock before he leaves, their family and friends gathered in a private room of an Owensboro restaurant for the ceremony and a meal.
Cutting the table runner, placing the candles and displaying the cake were each on the to-do list as a private room inside Owensboro’s Old Hickory BBQ was made over for a marriage.
Tyler is scheduled to leave for basic training in just a few days.
His mother, Tracy, who had Tyler when she was 16-years-old, served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Natalie’s father served in the Air Force.
“So, in all of that, we knew it would go quickly,” Tyler’s mother Tracy said. “We’re so very proud.”
Tyler’s father died when he was only three.
“These kids have overcome a lot,” Tracy added. “They’ve got a big journey ahead of them. They don’t fall into a statistic like everyone says.”
When Tyler and Natalie decided to get married before he left, Tyler’s half-sister Abby got ordained online and led the ceremony in front of many loved ones.
However, there was one person missing, or so he thought.
Tyler has never met his half-sister, Samantha, until the surprise at the ceremony.
"It warms my heart,” Tracy told 14 News. “It is the last piece of the puzzle from his dad’s family I think he needed to move on with his own journey. "
With the exchange of the rings, the two tied the knot.
Tyler is expected to leave for training on January 27, so Tracy says their family plans to spend a lot of time together between now and then.
Natalie is in school to be a teacher and is about halfway through her program.