On a cold February day, Jody Rule and Jade McGhee decided on an outdoor wedding.
At 6 p.m. July 14.
At the Millstadt home where Jody grew up.
"After I started checking around, I thought my parents' house would be nice," said Jody, "to have another sweet memory there."
Bob and Cheryl Rule moved to the three-acre setting 24 years ago and raised their five children there. Jody is number four.
"I asked them if it would be OK and they gave me their blessing," said Jody, a 29-year-old customer service rep. "They wanted to do all sorts of things, stain the deck, replace sidewalk, tear down trees, plant plants."
"In February, it seemed like a really good idea," said Cheryl, winding tulle around Christmas lights a few days before the wedding. Jody and her sister, Jessica, helped.
"They will look less like Christmas this way," said Jody.
"It might make people feel cooler," said Dad Bob. "Ever think of that?"
The deck was still a work in progress.
"I did most of the floor," said Bob.
"Dad, that's the easiest part," said Jody.
"I thought I would get home and you girls would have that done," said Bob. "Jody, you were off."
"I had to pick up dresses."
"We take things as they come," said Cheryl. "It's all coming together. At first, we didn't know if everything would get done. Everything comes together at the end."
Jody was confident the whole way through.
"It's going to be beautiful, like a fairy wonderland," she said. "In my head, I thought, 'Its going to be perfect.'"
A couple hundred close friends and family gathered on the lawn and driveway. Many looked for shady spots beneath trees or alongside the pole barn where the beer truck set up. DJs, assembled on an upstairs deck, played soft music. White tables and chairs filled the gravel driveway. Kids tried out green or purple paper fans.
Across the street, corn rustled in a once-in-a-while breeze.
Relatives of the groom sat beneath a white tent. They had worried about the 30 per cent chance of rain.
"We were holding our breath," said Wildamae Brestal, grandmother of the groom.
They breathed a sigh of relief when they got there.
"When we saw these beautiful surroundings, it's the perfect place to have a wedding," she said, "and this is what they wanted."
Katie Norsigian, of Waterloo, and Joni Knapp, of Belleville, stood on the plywood dance floor, sipping icy drinks before the ceremony. The temperature was 92, nowhere near the 115 record set on that date in 1954.
Did they dress any different for the outdoor event?
"Just the shoes," said Katie. "You don't want your heels to stick in the grass. The choice is wedges or flip-flops."
She and Joni chose wedges.
"It could be 110 and we wouldn't miss it." said Joni. "We're friends with both."
Just before 6:30, Bobby Rule, wedding officiant and brother of the bride, picked up a microphone.
"The wedding is about to start," he said. "Just kind of get around behind the chairs and we will get this show on the road."
Guests of honor sat on dining room chairs.
The father of the bride waited at the bottom of the back steps to walk his radiant daughter through a white trellis, and across the side yard to meet Jade McGhee, her groom.
"I still remember the anticipation when I was sitting in the house by myself," said Jade, a week later, "counting the minutes down when I could go out there."I'm like any guy. They make you wait all day long to see them. When you finally do, it's great. She looked beautiful."
The outdoor wedding was just the McGhees' style.
"We are simple people," said Jade, "and it really fit with all our friends and family.
"The only thing, you have to put a lot of faith in that it was going to happen. "
The wireless mike cut out for a second, but the ceremony moved right past that.
"We just started talking louder," said Jade.
"The whole day just went so perfectly," said Jody, who danced until 1. "All my friends and family were there. That's what made it so special, to have a huge party with everybody I know. It was such a heart-warming feeling."
She and Jade posed for photos on the front lawn and on the hillside where she once played house and flew through the air on the tree swing.
"It held special memories," she said. "Now I have another to add to it."
Couple: Jody Rule and Jade McGhee, of Belleville
What they do: Jody is a customer service rep; Jade is a truck driver. Jody is a 2001 Belleville West grad; Jade graduated in ''97.
How they met: through a mutual friend.
When they got engaged: Nov. 22, 2011. "The day we closed on the house we moved into."
How he proposed: "It was a surprise," said Jody. "We had talked about it. When we got to the new house, and walked inside, I said, 'Oh my gosh, we have a house.' He said, 'I will be right back.' He went out to the truck, came back in, and went into living room. He turned me around, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I started crying."
How Jody chose the wedding date: "I like the 7/14. It will be an easy anniversary to remember. I am bad at remembering dates."
Where she bought her dress: "Bridal Manor in Waterloo. It's a really cool place in an old Victorian house." Jody considered another dress, but mom Cheryl wasn't sure it was THE one. "It didn't make me cry," said Cheryl. "When she tried on this one, it did. That's the one."
"It fit me perfectly," said Jody.
Rehearsal dinner: Pizza from Breadeaux in Millstadt
Wedding colors: Purple, white and green.
Centerpieces: Jody painted different-size vases white, filled with silk flowers. They sat on burlap table runners alongside votives and paper fans.
The food: Barbecued pulled pork and chicken from Kenrick's Meats and Catering in St. Louis.
The wedding cake: "A friend of my sister's made it and cupcakes for everyone."
Flowers: "A friend created bouquets full of hydrangeas and calla lilies."
Fun touch: "Frames hanging from trees. "You could stand behind it and have photo taken. Lower, for the little guys."
The facilities: "We'll just use the inside bathrooms," said Cheryl. "We've got a good well and septic system."
Who helped: Friends and family ("Dad comes from a family of 14. I have 100 first cousins.") I have had a lot of people helping out. I got lights from my uncle. I asked my brother to marry us. He said, 'Let me know what I need to do?' Get ordained. I guess it's fairly simple online. It took him 15 minutes."
Cousin Tim Hoffeditz chauffeured folks from the grassy field where they parked. Dad Bob built a dance floor of 2-by-4s and plywood.