In many ways, Chris and Rachel typify a young professional couple of the twenty-first century. Like most of their friends, they weren't interested in marrying right out of college, preferring to take time for travel and career explorations. Neither saw their ethnic differences--Rachel's mother is Taiwanese, and she has a strong connection to that culture--as an obstacle. Without strong ties to a church, they chose to be married by a secular "officiant"--in their case, Rachel's uncle. And though both were children of divorce, they didn't hesitate on their own way to the altar. That, too, is typical, says Stephanie Fox, a local officiant: "All my friends were children of divorce, and they're getting married like gangbusters."
Chris's grandfather was Lebanese, but the small town in Pennsylvania where he grew up was pretty homogenous. He says his two years as a Peace Corps volunteer (he helped set up AIDS programs in Thai schools and taught English) broadened his "cultural awareness."
A onetime cheerleader from Falls Church, Rachel took a break from James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley to move to Taipei, where her sister, ten years older, had settled with her husband. Fluent in Mandarin, which she spoke at home with their mother (their father is Caucasian), she quickly landed a coveted job recording books and magazines in English. "I know how to manipulate my voice," she says. "You're in the sound booth with headphones on and you had to be dynamic and goofy, and I had a really fun experience."