Love in the Autumn Sunset

Story by Holly Ruppel

The couple met over a decade ago at The Courier, a local newspaper where Will worked as a pressman and camera room supervisor, and Janell worked in composing and advertising.

Janell’s niece, Amanda, was friends with Will, and thought the two would be a good match. They met once for lunch, to test the water, but never dated.

They didn’t reconnect until years later, when Amanda confided to Will that Janell
was going through a rough time in her life and needed someone to talk with. Will
was known among his friends for being a good listener and a secret keeper, so again,
Amanda played matchmaker for her aunt and her friend.

This time, there was a spark. The two would talk for hours.

“The more we talked, the more we found out we had in common,” Janell said.

Will said he and Janell felt that in each other, they had found understanding they had never experienced in other relationships. They both are artists and musicians and felt they were really compatible not only as a couple, but as artists. The artistry he found in Janell really spoke to him.

“We think alike,” he said. “As artists, we think really differently than other people.”

Janell and Will said they both love outdoor activities and being in Mother Nature. They love watching sunsets together, which is one of their favorite activities and the one that brought them closer together.

For both Will and Janell, the setting of the sun is a symbolic and spiritual event. Janell said she feels closer to God when she watches the setting sun. She often prays at that time, she said, and views the sky as God’s canvas, with the beautiful colors of the sunset His watercolors. For Will, sunset signals the end of a day and the chance for a fresh start at the next sunrise. “It’s a new beginning,” he said.

The couple felt sunset was the perfect time of the day to be married. “Everything really stood out (in that light,)” Will said. “It was beautiful.”

Will said he and Janell also love the autumn, and the cool weather it brings, which was another factor in planning their wedding. Janell said there was rain in the weather forecast, but it turned out to be a clear, cool day.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “That was just what I ordered.”

The couple decided to decorate with colors inspired by the season. Chrysanthemums, pumpkins and sprays of autumn leaves adorned their ceremony site, and their reception at the park’s visitor’s center boasted garlands of colorful leaves and blooms in rich shades of red and orange.

One of the prominent features of the couple’s wedding was the ways in which they honored their Native American roots. Will is of Cherokee and Osage descent and Janell can trace her ancestry to the Cherokee and Sioux.

Will is a Native American flute player and plays at weddings and other events. He said Native American women of the past wanted to be wooed by their suitors.

“They wanted to be won over,” Will said, stressing that the flute was called a ‘love flute.’

Even though he had already won Janell’s heart, he played one of the many flutes in his collection to signal the beginning of the ceremony and her entrance into the ceremony site.

While Janell opted for a more traditional gold and diamond wedding ring, Will’s buffalo wedding band pays homage to his Native American ancestry.

“Buffalo are very sacred to my people,” he said, “so that was the perfect ring for me.”

Will said the four colors of the buffalo on his ring represent the four directions, four seasons, four colors of man and four elements in nature.

Janell and Will both had been married before, so they wanted to keep it simple. “We agreed it was gonna be short and sweet, and it was,” she said. “About ten minutes.”

Janell said she wanted the event to be casual, but elegant, and that the most important thing for her and Will was that everyone just have a great time.

She planned the wedding herself and made her bouquet and all of the floral arrangements.

“I had it in my head what I wanted,” she said, adding that after the engagement, she immediately set to work gathering supplies. “Hobby Lobby knew me by name,” she said.

Janell’s family helped decorate for the ceremony and reception. Her brother, Greg, walked her down the aisle and ran sound, and her nieces, Amanda and Bekah, made the pumpkin spice and white sour cream tiers for the couple’s wedding cake.

Will, who went to culinary school years ago, made a super-rich butter cream frosting for the cake.

He remembered the recipe from school and wanted Janell to have that frosting on her wedding cake.

Janell’s friends from work helped out as servers, and her friend Barbara made the cheesecake groom’s cakes.

“Between us and family, we took care of everything,” Janell said. “It was a big, family effort.”

In spite of Janell’s careful planning, one detail didn’t come together until the last minute. They hadn’t been able to decide on a cake topper, Janell said, because there were too many choices. A friend had gifted them a picture frame, so about 15- 20 minutes before the ceremony began, they decided to put a picture in the frame and put it atop the cake.

Rolling with the punches life throws at them is something they’ve learned to do as a couple. They had both been single for a long time, and knew adjusting to life as a married couple would take effort.

“To have somebody in your life, it’s a change,” Will said. “But it’s worth it.”

Adapting to life as a married couple is something Janell and Will still have to concentrate on in the kitchen. They both love to cook, but have different styles and don’t always get along.

“That kitchen’s not big enough for the both of us,” Janell said. She likes to clean up as she goes, and Will makes messes, but he good-naturedly takes issue with Janell’s style in the kitchen, too.

“She doesn’t hold the knife right,” he laughs.

They’ve agreed to split the kitchen time, she said, adding, “Help’s there if we want it from each other.”

Whether or not they get along in the kitchen, Janell said they are “a good fit.”

She loves Will’s kindness and generosity and he loves her honesty and caring nature.

When asked what was the best moment of their wedding day, Will said he was happiest when Janell said, “I do.”

“I had the biggest smile on my face,” Janell said, “and I don’t think anyone could have wiped it off if they tried.”

For their honeymoon, the couple drove to Eureka Springs, where they visited art galleries and just enjoyed each other’s company. Their stay at a bed and breakfast on the hill was gifted to them by Janell’s sister, Cathy, and her niece, Amanda.

In the cool of the evenings, they would sit outside and watch the setting sun, and Will would play his flute.

“It was beautiful,” Janell said. “It echoed out into the valley.”

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Category: Bridal

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