One Fine Evening

Story by Holly Ruppel

Kaci and Preston Rood’s storybook romance began on a long, hot summer day, and just over a year later, they became husband and wife on a splendid, hot summer evening.

The couple met while both were students at Arkansas Tech University, but it wasn’t until the 2009 Galla Creek Country Club Golf Invitational, in which both Preston and Kaci’s father were playing, that Preston approached Kaci and asked her on a date.

“Preston just came up to me and never batted an eye,” Kaci recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t mean to be too forward, but I’d like to ask you out on a date.’”

Kaci was impressed by Preston’s confidence. “He was a smooth talker,” she disclosed. Preston’s phone was out of battery, she

said, so Kaci wrote her phone number on a napkinandhandedittohim.Prestonthought the number was a fake. She thought he wouldn’t call.

But he did call, and their first date was dinner at the end of June 2009. Their follow-up date was watching Fourth of July fireworks on Mount Nebo.

It didn’t take Kaci and Preston long to realize they’d each met the person they wanted to marry.

December 2009 was a life-changing month for the couple and their families.

Preston’s sister, Heather, delivered her first child, Dylan, on the 15th;Preston was set to graduate from Arkansas Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree on the 19th.

On December 18th, only three days after Dylan’s birth, Kaci and Preston went to visit Heather and her family.

“He was being really quiet and rushing me,” Kaci said of Preston, pointing out he is normally super laidback. She knew he was “up to something.”

“I was getting suspicious,” she said.

Heather handed Kaci baby Dylan, who was fussing. Kaci was trying to soothe her when she noticed Dylan’s onesie outfit.

It read, “My Aunt Rocks,” and Kaci’s engagement ring was tied onto it.

“It was really sweet,” Kaci remarked.

Kaci, who is in her second year at Harding University’s College of Pharmacy, immediately started planning the wedding. She enlisted the help of wedding planner Diane Race, and together, along with Kaci’s mom, Kim Statler, they managed to plan the details on Kaci’s breaks from school.

Race said most of the details were finalized over Kaci’s spring break and that Kaci had a hand in every stage of the planning process.

“It was clear she had a vision of what she wanted from our very first visit,” Race said, adding Preston was involved in the preparations, too, assembling wedding programs which doubled as fans.

Kaci said after the planning was complete, she tried to concentrate on school until summer, and, her’s and Preston’s big day.

One piece of the planning was a ‘given’ for Kaci and Preston: they knew they wanted to marry at the Russellville home of Preston’s grandparents, Freddie and June Rood. Preston’s parents, Eddie and Traci, married there, and his sister, Heather, married there in 2008.

Family and tradition is important to the couple and they wanted to carry on and honor the tradition of getting married at the grand home.

“We loved the idea of doing what Preston’s parents did, and his aunt and his sister,” Kaci said.

Another way the couple showed respect for family and tradition was in displaying Kaci’s and Preston’s mothers’ wedding gowns and photographs from their weddings.

When Kaci, who wore a white, strapless chiffon gown with a sweetheart neckline, chapel-length train and asymmetrical pleating across the bodice, arrived at the event with her attendants, they were greeted by her father, Jamie Statler, who walked her down the aisle.

The ceremony took place at 7:30 p.m. July 24, 2010, on the Roods’ verdant front lawn; the reception followed on the back lawn.

White and cream floral arrangements accented with lush greenery adorned the balustrade and entry doors, and sprays of flowers cascaded over towering white columns. Joe Turner of Cathy’s Flowers designed the elegant floral arrangements.

The simply decorated tables were covered with white tablecloths and strewn with white petals. Candles in pretty glass holders hung from the trees and lit up the darkening landscape.

Of the décor, Kaci said, “I just had this vision in my head.”

The ceremony and reception were elegant, but laidback, with many guests attired in casual summer shirts and shorts or skirts.

“It was pretty simple, Kaci said. “I just wanted everyone to have a good time.”

During the reception, catered by Susan Moorehouse, guests mingled and enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvres and refreshing drinks. In keeping with the laidback atmosphere, the couple also offered an assortment of bottled beers.

The simple and elegant four-tier white wedding cake and the whimsical,

Razorback-shaped groom’s cake were created by Michelle Mayer.

Soloists Will Gunselman and Sara Madjerich performed for guests, and the country band Four Aces played throughout the evening. Kaci and Preston even performed a duet for their friendsandfamily.

Every moment of the couple’s big day, from Kaci’s arrival to the vow exchange, to the bouquet toss (Kaci’s sister, Shelby, was the lucky catcher), to the couple’s departure was captured by photographer Melissa McCrotty and videographers Will and Jan Townshend.

One of those moments was the couple’s first dance. Kaci danced with father Jamie; Preston danced with his mother, Traci.

After the festivities, the beaming couple departed the event through a tunnel of glittering sparklers held aloft by their family and friends.

Kaci said she and Preston were both caught up in the moment and in the celebratory mood.

“Honestly, we both said it’s just a blur,” she recalled. “We were both just really excited. We really just felt loved by our family and friends.”

Kaci noted while some weddings have snags, hers and Preston’s “went flawlessly.” ”If (a disaster) happened, I didn’t know about it,” she said.

Wedding planner Diane Race made sure Kaci and Preston never noticed a snag. “My job is to make sure the day flows smoothly so that the bride can have her perfect day,” she said, “and I think Preston and Kaci’s day was pretty close to perfect. This is a wedding I will never forget.”

Kaci and Preston’s top priority was that their friends and family have a wonderful time at their wedding.

“We are both very, very family-oriented,”

Kaci said, adding that she and Preston are both close with their families.

Kaci indicated the young couple is excited at the prospect of starting their own family, as well.

“We’re excited to find out what we’ll do when the time comes,” she said.

 

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