Mark Vickers dropped by to visit a friend and met his future wife, Andrea Wilson.
"Her cousin was living with her for a little while," said Mark, 41, sitting alongside his wife in their O'Fallon home. "I stopped by to see him. She talked to me for a couple minutes. She was kind of busy doing her house stuff."
The next visit, Andrea was busy in the kitchen.
"She had on house clothes," Mark said. "At first, she didn't want to talk."
"I wasn't expecting company," said Andrea, 42. "I was baking. I was wearing sweat pants and had a scarf on my head. There's a guy coming over and I look like this?"
Mark didn't give up.
"Finally when I left, I gave her my number," he said. "She called me."
Andrea wondered why he was single, and why he was interested in her.
"He saw me at my worst," she said.
When Andrea called, he asked her out for dinner, telling her to choose any place she wanted. She chose IHOP.
"It's close to where I live," she said. "If there was a problem, someone could get to me quickly. And I didn't want him spending a bunch of money."
After dinner, they sat in her driveway talking for four hours.
"That's when I decided I wanted to pursue her," said Mark, who is a mill operator for a St. Louis agricultural company.
They had a lot in common and could have crossed paths earlier, but didn't. Both grew up in East St. Louis.
"He went to St. Patrick Elementary School," she said. "He walked down the street I lived on every day. He would hang out at his cousins' two blocks away.
"I went to Althoff," he said. "She went to Lincoln."
She attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville He went to Southwestern Illinois College, but was often on campus at SIUE.
He married, had two children (Jewell, 11, and Mark, 9) and divorced.
During their courtship, Mark helped Andrea through a breast cancer scare ("He took off work to go with me. I was anxious and nervous. He was stroking my hand.") and a job loss.
"I was shocked," said Andrea, a former East St. Louis High School English teacher who works in education for the state of Missouri and part-time for Illinois. "Who wants to be with someone who doesn't have a job?"
"I knew she wasn't a bum," he said.
She threw birthday parties for him and taught him to eat healthier.
"She can make anything taste good," he said. "I've eaten vegetables I've never eaten. She makes eggplant chili with a healthy spin on it."
They married May 25 at The Falls in Columbia -- four years after they met. Andrea still has the many wedding cards they received lined up in front of the fireplace.
"I am my mom's only child," said Andrea. "Now, she (Denise Williams) has a son who will fix things. She's over the moon."
And so is Andrea.
How he proposed: "He was very sneaky," said Andrea.
Mark hurried home from work, and put up a banner that read: "Andrea, will you marry me?" "I hung it across the wall behind a chair," he said. "I got balloons and stuff. I had everything nice and pretty."
"He put a blindfold on me," said Andrea, "walked me in, and sat me in a chair. He took the blindfold off and he's kneeling in front of me with this ring. I didn't see balloons, candles or the banner till the ring was on my finger."
How long were you engaged? "Two years," said Andrea. "We were supposed to get married last May. I'll be 43 in October. With me being in my 40s, I wanted the wedding of my dreams so we pushed it back a year so we could get everything the way we wanted -- I wanted. If I waited this long to get married, I wanted to do it right."
Wedding theme: Peacocks and bright blue, green and purple colors. I had a three-tier cake (by Nancy Robinson) with a spray of feathers behind it and feathers on each tier."
Favorite wedding memory: "Saying the vows," said Andrea. "We wrote our own. I was on him for two months. The day before the wedding, I said, 'Mark, have you written your vows?' He said, 'I got it.' Me, I had a sheet of paper rolled up. The pastor said, 'Really, you have a whole sheet?' Turns out, he didn't read his. They just came from his heart. Everybody said, 'Way to go, Mark.'"
First song at reception: "Next Breath" by Tank. Mark picked it.
His best quality: "His patience."
"I do have a lot of that, don't I?" he said.
Her best quality: "The structure she gives to me. She gives me peace of mind. I don't know how to explain it."
"Let's just say I complete you," Andrea said.
Honeymoon: "We're planning a Caribbean 8-day cruise."
Favorite thing she cooks: "He loves deer," said Andrea. "I don't eat deer, but I make deer chili."
Favorite place to eat out: "Maggiano's," said Andrea, "and when we don't feel like driving, Bella Milano."
What they do for fun: "We bowl. We play games. Our favorite is Phase 10, a card game. We like to cook and entertain."
New for him: "Flying." I had my first plane ride when we flew to Miami (for a cruise in 2012). Taking off was a little different, a little unsettling,"
"I had to hold his hand," said Andrea.
She still does.