Meggan Schuemann met Kaleb Dickey when they were both working at Kroger in Russellville. “I worked in the produce department and he was manager of general merchandise department,” she recalls. When they first crossed paths back in 2007 they both were in other relationships and working different shifts in separate parts of the store. Over time they both became single and Meggan was eventually transferred to Kaleb’s department. “I thought he liked me, but I was playing really hard to get because I didn’t want to date a manager,” she laughs.
She found herself equally interested in Kaleb but wasn’t ready for another relationship. “I was in nursing school at Arkansas Tech,” she recalls. “And it was real hard. I just wanted to focus on that.” But he kept pursuing her, noting that he admired her dedication to her future career. After turning him down multiple times, she says, “finally I said I’d go out.”
Throughout our conversation Meggan frequently refers to Kaleb as her “best friend,” the person she can count on when she comes home from her long hours and stressful work as a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Mary’s Hospital. She talks about their love story with a great deal of humor and openness, unafraid to laugh at the less-than-perfect events of both their engagement and recent wedding.
“He had always said that he was planning an extravagant proposal,” she explains. But she wasn’t really drawn to the idea, preferring something simple and private. “But I had actually given up on the whole idea we were going to get married, she laughs. “I thought we would date forever.” Over time they both bought their own houses and continued dating, often discussing marriage but making no definite plans.
On New Year’s Eve 2012 they were working in her kitchen and preparing for friends to come over. “I opened the fridge,” she recalls, and “he grabbed my arm and kind of twirled me around and said, “baby I love you,”” she recalls. “I said, “I love you too,”” she explains. “He said, I want you to be my wife.” But she says this didn’t really take her by surprise as this was a conversation they had often. “I know you do,” she said and tried to get back to her work preparing for the party. But he didn’t end the conversation, she explains.
“He said, “no, right now will you marry me?”” Elated by the proposal, she immediately said yes, called her family, and they spent the evening celebrating. “I love to entertain so it was really neat that he ended up proposing in my kitchen,” she recalls.
Meggan and Kaleb both call the River Valley home. She was born and raised in Russellville and graduated from Dardanelle High School. He was born in West Memphis and lived in Louisiana before moving back and graduating from Atkins High School. Meggan graduated with her B.A. in nursing from Tech in 2009 and Kaleb plans to graduate this year with a BA in mechanical engineering. They married this past fall in a wedding ceremony that reflected their love of family history and the region’s beauty.
Meggan says they originally wanted an outside wedding but knew the weather could become an issue. So they decided on a sunset wedding in the pavilion at Lake Point in London, Arkansas where they planned to incorporate the setting sun in the ceremony. Drawing on an autumn theme, the flower girl carried leaves down the aisle and trees lines the pavilion.
“I knew what I wanted my bridesmaids to wear,” says Meggan, “but I couldn’t find it it anywhere.” So she printed photos of dresses online and visited with seamstress Betty White, owner of Perfect Seams in Russellville. Meggan and White sat down with the images and discussed what they liked about each, creating an original pattern with a latte lace overlay and stain underneath.
Meggan’s own dress was a vintage selection she picked up at Danielle’s in Clarksville, an ivory mermaid gown with sweetheart bodice and light gold lace appliqués. Crystals and pearls adorned the dress, which also featured a chapel length train. A birdcage veil and vintage hair clip completed her ensemble. To complement the off whites, browns, and fall colors of the ceremony, she carried a bouquet calla lilies, tulips, ranunculus, and hydrangeas with touches of baby’s breath and dusty miller. Two handkerchiefs that belonged to her great grandmother were incorporated into the bouquet’s design.
“I knew I wanted to really incorporate a lot of family heirlooms as far as the reception went,” Meggan recalls. So Joe Turner of Cathy’s Flowers in Russellville helped them decorate with heirloom lace table clothes, milk glass and crystal. Lighted candles lit up the tables, and the meal was catered by Lake Point Conference Center. There were about 175 people in attendance, including family and friends who came from Chicago, New York, and Florida.
The 4-tiered wedding cake was topped glimmering crystals, pearls, and rhinestones taken from jewelry owned by the bride and her mother. The groom’s three-tried cake was a rich butter cake with deep brown chocolate frosting topped with chocolate covered strawberries. Music was provided by Central Arkansas Entertainment and guests enjoyed dancing throughout the evening. At the end of the evening they released Chinese lanterns onto Lake Dardanelle.
Like most wedding stories, the details of what the bride wore or a description of the reception don’t really convey the overall feel of the event. Meggan laughs as she recalls the glitches and hilarious “hiccups” that punctuated their wedding day. The bridesmaids’ dresses were being prepared down to the wire, with the last one finished the day of the ceremony. During the pre-wedding photo shoot Meggan recalls catching a glimpse of dog Bacci, who was to be included in some of the wedding photos, go running into the lake after one of his toys was accidentally thrown too far.
But the real surprise came when Meggan began to realize the actual wedding ceremony wasn’t’ starting as planned. “I knew that I had been standing there for a while, recalls Meggan, growing suspicious that something had gone wrong. “The Maid of Honor knew what was going on,” she explained, “but was afraid it would stress me out.” I was afraid he’d backed out, Meggan recalls.
What Meggan didn’t realize was just moments before the wedding was to start Kaleb patted down his suit and realized he’d left the wedding ring back home in Pottsville some fifteen miles away. With only ten minutes before the wedding two of his groomsmen headed off in their jeep to fetch the ring. But a breakdown in communication led the wedding director to believe the groomsmen were just headed back to the on-site lodge for the ring. So he told the guests the wedding would proceed within a few minutes. Once she realized what was happening, Meggan tried to catch the groomsmen and suggest they use someone else’s ring for ceremony. But by then they were already in route.
Meanwhile the groomsmen made it back to the house but couldn’t figure out how to open the safe where Kaleb had placed the ring. By this time it was growing later and their plans for a sunset wedding were disappearing. Meggan and Kaleb decided to go ahead and start the ceremony, sending the wedding party down the aisle, in hopes the groomsmen would return before the ring ceremony began. A few of the ushers stood in for the missing groomsmen allowing the wedding to proceed as planned. Just as Meggan was about to walk down the aisle the groomsmen returned with the ring walked arm and arm down the aisle, and took their places at the front of the gazebo.
Once the laughter died down, Meggan began her walk down the aisle, an act, she says “mirrored” her life. “My parents are divorced,” she explained. “My dad left when I was 19 and it was just me and my mom.” So she asked her father to walk her from the lodge to the pavilion. At the pavilion she met her mother and they held hands and walked down the aisle. “My dad waited at the end of the aisle for us and then I took both of their hands and they both gave me away,” she says.
The wedding ended up being forty minutes late, Meggan explains, laughing about how their original plans included the sunset. When asked if the last minute change of plans put a damper on the ceremony, she quickly responds. “I’m a very laid back person,” she says. “I used to stress about things, but my job has really changed me a lot….I realize now what’s important to stress about and what won’t matter the next day. So I really remained calm through every little hiccup,” she says. “I was happy,” she says. “Who cares that it started a little bit late? When I realized it wasn’t him backing out I was just happy that I still had my groom,” she laughs.