Our Story – Our Wedding! Part 1

Welcome back! We are so glad to see you and share our story with all of you. Kevin and I chose our wedding date on our drive home. We were so excited and did not want a long engagement. May 20th is the date that stood out to both of us, so it was decided. The next three months were a whirlwind of activity and excitement.

Our planning began the day of our engagement. We sat at the table with his mom and sisters, chose our wedding colors and flowers. I remember crying tears of joy from all of the excitement, but also tears of sadness that my mom could not be there with us. Blue and purple would be our colors, roses and dahlias our flowers. Kevin would wear the suit his brother and sister-in-law gifted to him. I would wear a blue satin dress and both of us would wear our cowboy boots. We wanted our wedding to be ours. Everyone had a task and a deadline, the organizing with Louise at the wheel was seamless.

Kevin and I talked about our upcoming union and how our dreams had come true, our prayers had been answered. We finally found our one. Such a blessing! In this I talked to him about how in our families the women are strong and loyal. I wanted something to tie us all together, to represent each of us united. My dress would be this piece I spoke of with him. A message was sent to the women in both families, in Kevin and I uniting as one our families will be one and I want something to represent this union. Each woman was asked to send a doily, beads or something that could be sewn onto my dress. The girls loved the idea and send items to be sewn on to represent each woman.

The big day arrived so quickly, but at times felt so far way. We received a call from Kevin’s sister Joyce the day we were leaving to head home for our big day. The levy had broken, there was a flood and over 20 communities were without water. She had told us any family travelling may need to make new arrangements for a place to stay. We called our family and let them know of the possible need for new accommodations. Our outside wedding would need to be moved inside due to the heavy rainfall.

We arrived that evening, visited with family. and talked about how glad we were that the day was finally here. The next morning we would head to Murphysboro to get our marriage license. When we arrived at the courthouse we were informed it was the only courthouse open due to the levy break. Blessings our way, we were able to get our marriage license! The clerk told us we must be meant to be considering the odds of that courthouse being the only one open in Southern Illinois. We agreed, took each other by the hand and nearly skipped out the door.

News arrived that the levy had been repaired and water had been restored. Our family members travelling were able to keep their accommodations. The sun was shining! Our family arrived on Saturday, the wedding set for Sunday. Annie, Kevin’s sister-in-law, made a wonderful meal for us and gave us our blessing. She is quite something wonderful, she gave us our own personal blessing and prayer for a happy loving marriage and shared life. We are blessed in so many ways and have so much love!

We are thankful our family helped to plan and organize our wedding. Phone calls and visits were a major necessity so we all stayed on the same page. Louise making sure our day would represent us. Our family safely in town and ready to share our big day with us! Dreams really do come true. Prayers really do get answered.

Please come visit next week to read about our wedding and reception. So much to share it will be two parts. We are so glad you are here and hope you continue to come back. We have so much to share!

Our Story – He Proposed!

First, we want to thank everyone that has been following our posts and welcome first time readers. Kevin and I share a love of the beauty around us and photography. To this day Kevin and I still continue to share our love of photography by going on drives and stopping to capture the beauty around us. We enjoy seeing the world through each other’s eyes. Together we are sharing our love of family, nature and growing stronger as a couple. We spend all our free time together. Holidays were spent together with family. Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his family.

Christmas with Kevin’s family was like going back in time to big family Christmas’ of years past with my Mom’s family. It was such a wonderful time! Christmas is when Kevin said to his dad, “When Heather and I get married we will have a good life.” His dad, Murl, looked over at me and smiled. I said, “He hasn’t asked yet.” Murl responded, “Oh, he will and I hope you say yes.” My heart sang, he was going to ask. On the next First Friday, Kevin stopped in and asked me to hold out my hand. He slid a ring on my ring finger and said, “That should work.'” then walked around the corner. The visitors in our shared studio smiled and asked if there was anything I wanted to share. I truly had no idea what he was up to.

February approached and Kevin asked if I would like to come home with him to visit with his family. I told him I would love to. We headed out on the 17th and spent the weekend with his parents and siblings. All of us laughing, talking, sharing meals. Once everyone had arrived the 18th, Kevin and his Mom went in the other room to talk quietly. Soon after, his mom, Louise, came in the living room and asked us all to sit down and be quiet because Kevin had something to say. Kevin was now down on one knee holding his hand out to me. I stood and went to him crying from joy, at that point he was crying, and his family began crying too.

Kevin’s family said, “Wait! Is this really happening right now? Don’t start yet, or start over we need our cameras.” Now, any other time we all would have had our phones nearby but not on this day. We laugh when thinking about that moment. Kevin began again, “Heather Ranae will you be my wife and share my life with me?” I said, “Yes!” before he could finish his proposal. He opened the ring box to the most beautiful amethyst ring set in silver, amethyst is the love stone and my favorite. He had commissioned my engagement ring with Bronwyn, a local artist, to have something as unique as I am. When he told me this, I cried deeply. This man sees me and has given me the gift of seeing him. We are blessed.

In no time at all, his Mom was at the table with pen and paper and we were planning our wedding. All of his sisters were there helping make plans and deciding which part each would handle. His family would do the organizing at home and we would do what we could from our home. An outside wedding in the backyard at his parents’ home. Our wedding date was set for May 20th and his brother would perform the ceremony. We talked all the way home about our love for each other and the excitement of our upcoming union.

A handful of months ago we met and fell in love. He proposed and I said yes without hesitation. We feel very blessed that family could be with us on this day and share in our moment. In three short months we will be married. Life is beautiful!

Our Story – Continued

Kevin and I continue to talk and learn about each other over the next several months. I find myself arriving at the Studios at the same time on Fridays, in hopes of another visit with Kevin. He is easy to talk to and I get lost in his eyes and the sound of his voice. Kevin admitted later he thought I was cute and knew what time I would generally arrive at the Studios.

August 26th, on this day we are both brave. We have what I call a “Must Love Dogs” moment. Kevin and I discuss our past relationships but do not mention any current. At this moment we realize we have had many of the same experiences and have decided maybe life alone is our future. We establish our top priority is our family, which is amazing. Each taking turns on the soap box stating our views on life, love and society.

Kevin tells me he is single but not really looking. I confirm I am single and not looking. Kevin then says, “Wait! You aren’t dating anyone?”. I respond, “No, I’m not dating anyone.” Kevin, “Then we should go to dinner.” I respond, “Yes, we should.” He then tells me to call or text him with a good time to meet. He finally asked, I was going to give him two more weeks then ask him out myself. I am so excited, I enter the door to the hall leading to my studio and start skipping. Then I realize I don’t have his number, but we are friends on Facebook. I hear my name, it’s Kevin, calling me to give me his business card. I sheepishly open the door, wondering if he saw me skipping down the hall. He looked through three pockets before he found his card. He smiled and handed the card to me. (I still carry that business card with me).

I arrive at home and tell my children the news. My daughters say wait for a day then call or text. My sons say call or text him now. I followed my sons’ advice. Kevin and I texted off and on the rest of the evening. Saturday would be our first date. We decide to visit at his home, on the front porch and we discuss everything under the sun. Five hours of talking and laughing, sharing our life experiences. We have our first kiss and later admit to each other we saw fireworks and stars.

He walks me to my car as I leave and asks what I am doing the next day. I respond, “If you are asking, I am spending time with you. ” Kevin smiles and says,”See you tomorrow.” Our first dinner out together, Kevin announced,”I can’t wait for you to meet my folks and my family, they are going to love you!” Two weeks later we said I love you for the first time. By the end of September I met his family and we all loved each other. His mom pulled me off to the side and said, “I am glad my son found you, a woman that loves him and I can see he loves you back.” I asked how she knew and she told me a Mama knows.

I am thankful we were both brave and said yes to another chance with love. We believe in love at first sight and are glad we were patient and found the one. Kevin and I hope you are enjoying learning about us and our beginning. We want to share with you our beginning and what led us to becoming Happy Mileurs.

Our Story – The Beginning

We met at the Studios on Sheridan in Peoria, Illinois in April 2017. Our meeting was divine, we shared our story with one another. A raw look into each other’s souls so to speak. Kevin a retired Prison Guard and me a representative at an insurance company. Both of us passionate about the arts. We spoke about not really fitting in but the comfort we found in the arts and how we felt we fit in well in this world. He held my hand and looked in my eyes, my heart stopped and I knew.

Kevin went to First Fridays at the Studios with a friend and enjoyed visiting with the artists on open studio nights. He decided three years ago to take a part time job in the building and is the photographer for the First Friday event. After working in prisons, he wanted to remember to see the beauty in the world after seeing so much sadness. He adventures along river road and captures beautiful photographs of wildlife and nature. Kevin says, “God creates the pictures, I just take them.” A humble and goodhearted man. Kevin is an excellent photographer and has the ability to capture a person’s essence and natural state in photography. His nature and wildlife photographs capture eagles in flight and the stillness of nature. Kevin’s photography speaks to your soul.

I went to First Fridays with my daughters and met local artists. We enjoyed viewing the art and hearing the artists’ stories of how and why they create. One First Friday my oldest daughter and I met Gene Mialkowski. I shared my passion for art with him and we became fast friends. He gave me the courage to reach out to Preston Jackson, a Master Artist, who later taught me the art of sculpting. In March of 2017, I was visiting my Auntie in Iowa and collecting materials for our weekend of creating. I remember telling her if only I could share a studio with an artist it would be affordable. We finished shopping and as we arrived at the car my phone rang, it was Gene-o. He called to invite me to share a studio with him at Studios on Sheridan for the exact amount I had stated would work. My Auntie responded, “God really is in Hobby Lobby.”

Gene-o and I moved into our studio on April 1, 2017 and held our first open studio on First Friday, April 7th. The date April 7th is near and dear to me and significant. My Mom passed away in 2011, her birthday is April 7th. She could not be present physically for my first open studio but being able to have such an event on her birthday is a tribute to her. I met Kevin while Gene-o and I moved into our studio. As Gene-o and I prepared for our work to be in the public eye, Kevin was checking to see if we had everything ready before opening our studio doors for our initial First Friday.

Our meeting was divine. Two people, different backgrounds, a passion for art and nature, now together. We are thankful his friend invited him to First Fridays and my friend invited me to share a studio.