Friday the 13th weddings: Love trumps superstition

News-DemocratJune 22, 2014 

Robin Spencer, dressed in lace, entered the St. Clair County Building's revolving doors behind Corey Wellman.

It was a few minutes before 1 p.m. on Friday, June 13, and they were one of nine couples about to be married.

"She's superstitious," said Corey, 33, of Mascoutah.

But not enough to choose another wedding day.

The superstitious date was offset by the full "honey" moon that would shine on them later that night.

The moon's path was at its lowest, which kept the lunar orb close to the horizon and made it appear more amber -- and larger --than other full moons this year.

Some say the honey-hued moon may be where the term "honeymoon" originated. Having the combination of a honey moon and Friday the 13th is rare, last occurring on June 13, 1919. Next time it will happen? June 13, 2098.

"I think it's good luck," said Corey. "It will be easy to remember."

The bright blue daisy petals in Robin's bouquet matched the groom's shirt. He wore a dark suit and nursed a black eye.

"He and one of his friends were wrestling around," said Robin, 35, who has known Corey a long time.

"I used to hang out with her older brother when I was 14," he said. "She was 16. I was in love with her back then."

They went in different directions, then got back together.

Robin is a dietary cook at a nursing home. Corey, a HVAC service tech, is looking for a job.

The couple, who have eight children, planned the wedding in just a few days.

They brought friends and family to witness the event. Some, such as Corey's daughter Kyleigh, 15, and Robin's daughter, Tasianna Squires, 15, wore complementary colors. Others, such as Jennifer Lepes, Robin's hair dresser and friend, gave compliments. "They're a good match," she said. "Perfect for each other."

Michelle Trokey, the maid of honor, seconded the thought. "They blended their families well and made one big happy family," she said. "It's good to see."

The children, who range in age from 6 to 15 are on board.

"Everything is great right now," said Corey. "We thought it would be hard. They actually all went to the same school. All knew each other. We just kind of joined families."

Where are the rest of the kids now?

"They are at the pool," said Robin. "We plan on doing a bigger wedding in a year when we can afford it."

'We're not superstitious'

Garrett and Ashley Call were planning a big wedding until they reconsidered.

"We were picking up bands." said Ashley, 27, of O'Fallon, waiting in the fourth-floor hallway. "We just decided to come to the courthouse."

They didn't even realize the date until after they made their decision.

"Someone brought it up, but we didn't care," said Ashley. "We have a black cat at home. We're not superstitious.

"It's good to get married on that day. It's an odd day. We thought we would be the lucky ones."

Garrett, 33, is a truck driver who owns his own business. Ashley is a First Student bus driver who is off for the summer. They met online a little more than a year ago.

"Weddings are really expensive," she said. "We wanted to be married and not have to pay so much to do it."

Ashley's son Carter Daniels, 4, and parents, Bonnie and Gene Robinson, of Shiloh, were there, too. Short notice didn't faze the mother of the bride.

"She came over Sunday and told us they were getting married on Friday," said Bonnie. ""I was expecting to plan a wedding, but not to do one in five days."

They managed in fine style.

"She looks beautiful," said Bonnie, nodding toward her blond-haired daughter wearing a high-waisted, long white gown with crisscross back strap. "We went to David's Bridal and bought a dress off the rack. When she tried it on and looked at me, I already had a lump in my throat, and her eyes glistened up. We knew it was the one.

"We're having a reception tomorrow at our house. Wedding cake. The whole deal. He's a good man. I am happy for her."

Bonnie and Gene realized the date, then learned of the rare full honey moon.

"They will have a very, very unique wedding day," she said, glancing at grandson Carter, sitting on a bench talking to a little girl in a long white dress.

"She has him snagged for the next rare full moon."

'I know I hit the jackpot'

The little girl in the long white dress is Mystika Winters, 6.

"We were in line behind them at the courthouse," said her grandmother, Audra Kalbfleisch, of Fairview Heights, referring to Carter and his family.

Audra, 42, dressed in a turquoise tea-length gown, was about to marry Don Smalley, 49, of Reno, Nev.

They chose the date because of her daughter, Chelsea, 22.

"She's into Halloween and stuff like that," said Audra. "She couldn't be here."

Chelsea lives in Reno where she manages a Philly Cheese Steak restaurant.

"It was my way to bring her into it without her being here. Chelsea said 'Oh, cool' when I told her."

Audra and Don met in Reno through a friend.

"I know I hit the jackpot," said Audra.

"It took us a long time to become a couple. We've known each other for years and years. Finally, it was the right time."

"My family is there," said Don. "Two sons (David, 28, and Donald, 22) and my father and two grandsons. ... My boys were old enough where they are on their own."

Don manages Big Wave Car Wash in Fairview Heights. Audra, a cosmetologist, wanted granddaughter Mystika, who lives with them, to have the chance to dress up.

"Because it's a wedding and she's a flower girl and little girls like wedding dresses," Audra said.

Mystika's dress was of the something-borrowed variety.

"I think it's awesome," said the first-grader at William Holliday in Fairview Heights.

Something else that was awesome? Judge Richard Aguirre allowed Mystika to be part of the wedding, exchanging rings, along with Audra and Don.

The family, which included Audra's mom, Sue Kalbfleisch, of Fairview Heights, planned a small celebration.

"We'll go out to eat and have some cake at home and that's about it," said Audra.

"I have to work in the morning," said Don.

'We grew up together'

Veronica Henry and Brian Helfer, both 27, posed for photos outside the courthouse.

The sky was brilliant blue. The Henry-Helfer party was in yellow or white.

"I told them I wanted them to to wear yellow and white," said Veronica, of Collinsville. "If I would have had a big wedding. I would have had yellow."

She wore a sweet knee-length lace dress with three-quarter sleeves, and carried a bouquet of yellow daisies and white flowers.

"He's my childhood friend," said Veronica, alongside Brian, in a yellow-striped shirt and white slacks. "We grew up together in the same Parkside neighborhood in Centreville."

She's a nursing student at SWIC. He's a locomotive mechanic.

"My dad worked there," said Brian. "He got me in the door when I got out of high school."

Their blended family includes four children, Alexis Johnson,12, Troy Johnson, 8, Amere Helfer, 6, and La'More Doss, 5.

"The kids couldn't wait," he said. "They're perfectly fine. They fit right in with each other."

The Helfers planned to go to the Jewel Box in Forest Park for more photos. A honeymoon to Las Vegas and Los Angeles followed.

They chose June 13 because her mom got married on a Friday the 13th.

"I am not real superstitious," Veronica said. "It wasn't a big deal to me."

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