Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 21, 2018

A Mt. Pleasant fairytale

Local couple plans engagement, wedding around beloved hometown
Feb 15, 2018
Photo by: Submitted Alex Peterson and Bailey Hesseltine were engaged during Holiday on Main on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Although they were neighbors all their lives, they didn’t meet until a few years ago when a mutual friend set them up. The couple is getting married July 20, 2019.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

On their first date, they found out they were actually neighbors. Well, kind of. Even though they lived a mile apart, across the cornfield from one another, she was his closest neighbor to the east.

“We didn’t know it,” Alex Peterson said with a slight smile.

“I can see his house from my house,” Bailey Hesseltine said.

They grew up next to each other, but Hesseltine and Peterson went to different high schools. She graduated from WACO High School in 2013, and he graduated from Mt. Pleasant Community High School in 2012.

They met through a mutual friend who convinced Hesseltine to add Peterson on Facebook and message him. “I don’t do things like that,” she told her friend, and messaged Peterson anyway. Although it was mostly said in jest, Peterson told Hesseltine the same week they met that he was going to marry her.

“There was just a connection,” Peterson said. “We enjoyed the same food, same music, same activities. We just get along well together. We share the same ideals and moral values, and that’s hard to find nowadays, I think.”

After a couple years of dating, Peterson didn’t see a reason for waiting any longer. He was ready to be engaged to Hesseltine.

Knowing he wanted to buy his ring local, he walked into Becker’s Jewelers on W. Monroe St. in Mt. Pleasant. “I knew I would pick out something terrible. I just knew I would,” Peterson said, which is when he enlisted the help of Hesseltine’s mother, Lisa Kalkbrenner.

Kalkbrenner took it from there.

Kalkbrenner wasted no time. That same day Peterson asked for her help, she came to her daughter crying, saying she had lost her wedding ring. “She called me from work and she was crying and said the janitor was helping her look for it, sweeping underneath things and looking through the bathroom trash,” Hesseltine said.

Becker’s still had her mother’s original engagement ring, but Kalkbrenner craftily came up with an excuse as to why she needed to get a different one, saying that because her wedding band was custom fit, she couldn’t afford to get the same ring to match it.

She even waited a few weeks before telling Hesseltine she turned the missing ring into their insurance company, saying she wanted to make sure it didn’t turn up somewhere. When they finally went to Becker’s, Kalkbrenner kept asking Hesseltine’s opinion.

“We were looking at rings and she said, ‘What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ And I had no idea it was for me,” Hesseltine said.

Hesseltine continued unselfishly looking at rings her mother would like instead of what she would prefer, making it difficult to deduce what type of engagement ring would suit her. But Kalkbrenner finally knew which ring her daughter wanted when the time came.

While talking to one of her friends, Hesseltine asked her mother to send her a picture of one of the rings they had looked at for Kalkbrenner. “I guess then she really knew it was the one I liked,” Hesseltine said.

Looking at her ring, Hesseltine said she had no idea that they were really looking at engagement rings for her. “No, my mom was such a good liar,” she said with a laugh.

 

The engagement

With the ring picked out and purchased, it was time for Peterson to propose – but not before he created the perfect date for him and Hesseltine first.

Initially wanting to get engaged on Christmas day, Peterson thought better of that. “It’s so hectic around Christmas and we wouldn’t have had a lot of time together,” Peterson said.

Instead, Peterson told Hesseltine to be free on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 7:45 a.m.

“I told you I wanted a nice date for Christmas, but I meant let’s go out to dinner, not all day,” Hesseltine said to Peterson with a laugh.

They started the day at Riverside Casino with a buffet breakfast. Peterson took Hesseltine to the nail salon there, which he thought was a “pretty big clue” about what would transpire later that evening. Hesseltine admitted that while she was getting her nails painted, the woman working in the salon asked if they were engaged.

“I said, well no, but maybe today,” Hesseltine said.

“She kept giving me a look, so I thought she was on to me,” Peterson said. “I had the feeling the thought was running through your mind,” he said to his now-fiance.

From the Casino, the two went to Iowa City for lunch at an Italian restaurant, which Peterson could not remember the name of. Chalk it up to his nerves at the time.

Again, Hesseltine was a little suspicious. With negative wind chill that day, Peterson still refused to wear a coat.

“Becker’s boxes are square and they’re really big,” Peterson explained. “I looked in the mirror a couple times before our date to see how [the ring box looked under my jacket]. I knew she was going to see it, so I was like I guess I just won’t wear a coat today.”

After lunch, it still wasn’t yet time to head back to Mt. Pleasant. Peterson had planned a private tour and wine and spirit tasting at Cedar Ridge Winery in Swisher. Returning to town around 5 p.m., that night just so happened to be Holiday on Main.

Whether from cold or nerves (probably both, he admits), as the couple took a carriage ride around the square, Hesseltine noticed Peterson shaking. Once they alighted from the carriage, Peterson lead Hesseltine to the fountain, where, with holiday lights in the background and the community they loved milling around them, he got down on one knee.

The photographer he enlisted told them afterwards that children gasped and people applauded as he proposed, but Hesseltine and Peterson were too caught up in the moment.

“We were all wrapped in the emotions,” Peterson said.

 

Planning the

wedding

Just as Peterson purchased Hesseltine’s engagement ring locally, the couple want to keep the wedding local too. Hesseltine and Peterson are getting married July 20, 2019.

Although they still have over a year, Hesseltine said much of the wedding planning is already done. The ceremony will be at Swedesburg Evangelical Lutheran Church, the couple’s home church, with the reception following at Airport Road Winery.

Hesseltine even has her dress already purchased from Sarah’s Bridal Gallery on W. Clay St. in Mt. Pleasant.

Although Hesseltine hasn’t settled on flowers yet, she is looking at getting them from Country Charm Flowers and Gifts on N. Main St. in Mt. Pleasant.

“I left [the wedding planning] up to her,” Peterson said. “I said I did my part already. You do whatever you want. Just tell me when to show up, what to wear and what time.”

For Peteson and Hesseltine, the most challenging part of wedding planning so far has been choosing a date. Because Peterson farms, Hesseltine said there are really only two weekends out of the year they could do it.

Hesseltine is also trying to finish school before they get married. She will graduate from Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids this spring before going to the University of Iowa for her graduate studies. Hesseltine hopes to be a therapist and work with children.

As they prepare and save for their wedding, Hesseltine and Peterson opened a joint bank account at Wayland State Bank in Mt. Pleasant where they will deposit money specifically for the wedding each month. When they get married, they will join their accounts.

“We even got little cute checkbooks that have a picture of a bride and groom on them to pay our vendors,” Hesseltine said.

Another dilemma the couple is facing as they plan their wedding is how big the wedding party should be.

“How do you only pick four [groomsmen] when you have a whole pile of friends?” Peterson said.

What they do know, however, is that they are ready to make Mt. Pleasant a home together.

Peterson said his family has always been very involved in the community. In fact, his great-grandfather helped start Old Threshers. A few years ago, Peterson found a tractor his grandfather had sold in the 1940s. He bought it back and restored it.

“I take pretty good care of that tractor,” Peterson said. “We’ll probably take [engagement] pictures with it in the background.”

Hesseltine also wants to include cows in her engagement photo shoot, with their ear tags reading their wedding date. She wants to wait to do engagement photos in the spring, “When the crops are little baby ones,” she said.

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