To Have and to Hold

Deeply personal touches from local couples’ weddings


Your wedding day: the one day when all the people you love from all the parts and places of your life gather to witness two separate lives joined together. It’s the day to celebrate all that love is and has been and will be. Here, five couples from Southeast Missouri share how they personalized their wedding days; we can’t wait to see what you do with yours.



Nicole Gaines, dressmaker and seamstress at her store Fouche Dressmaker and Seamstress in downtown Cape Girardeau, spent nearly a year making her own dress, which she worked on in-between customer alterations and custom gowns/accessories. The gown, made of embroidered French lace and Swiss dot mesh, features an illusion top, cap sleeves, an illusion back with buttons and a double-illusion six-and-a-half-foot train.

Design/Planning: Design & Style by Linda McKinnis of DESIGN EXCLUSIVE, LLC

Meet the Couple: Bruce and Nicole Gaines

Hometowns: Nicole is from Jonesboro, Illinois, and Bruce is from San Diego. The couple resides in Jonesboro.

Most memorable moment of the day

Bruce had been the father figure in my daughter Aleah’s life for the past five years while we dated and were engaged. During the ceremony, Bruce got down on one knee, held Aleah’s hand and gave her a ring to promise to always be the best dad he can be for her and to ask her if he could be her dad. She said yes and cried.

Meet the Photographer: Erika Jo Bening, Erika Jo Photography and Film

My photography style is airy and bright while trying to emulate film. I don’t have a studio, and for now I don’t intend to because I love using the natural sunlight as my guide. I absolutely love sun flares in my images, too!   




Chris and Elizabeth Roberts incorporated many elements into their wedding day to include their friends, family members and family traditions: Elizabeth carried her maternal grandmother’s rosary and paternal grandmother’s broach in her bouquet, wore a ring made from the diamonds of the ring her late grandfather gave to her grandma and carried the Bible her grandmother, mother aunt and cousin carried on their wedding days. The couple had their “first look” in a recently deceased friend’s she shed. Elizabeth and Chris were married by a family friend in the church Elizabeth grew up in and used Elizabeth’s parents’ cake knife at the reception. Chris’ mom made the groom and groomsmen’s boutonnieres out of duck feathers from a hunt Chris and Elizabeth’s father went on, and Elizabeth’s mom and friends performed a surprise flash mob to “Dancing Queen” by Abba.

Meet the Couple: Chris and Elizabeth Roberts

Hometowns: Chris is from Jackson, Missouri, and Elizabeth is from Charleston, Missouri. The couple resides in Charleston.

On your wedding day …

There will be things that go wrong, but it is what it is. Chris and I had completely uncooperative weather on our wedding day — literally a tornado hit — our baker had written the date down wrong so up until an hour before the reception we had no cake and moments before the ceremony my bridesmaids were cleaning the mud out of my wedding dress. Still, we had the most fun we have ever had in our lives.

Meet the Photographer: Dani Brown, Coco Captures

My goal with photography is to capture moments in their realness, the moments when people have the most genuine smiles and most authentic demeanors. This isn’t always easy to achieve, but it’s definitely what I strive the hardest for.




Gloria Stoverink, a registered dietician for the Jackson R-2 School District, created a vegetable theme for her and her husband Tyson’s wedding, an homage to their frequent grocery store dates. The decorations included bride and bridesmaid bouquets arranged by Gloria’s mom using artichokes and multi-colored lettuce, reception tables adorned with vegetables alongside punny signs such as “You look radishing” and a pizza party for dinner. “If you have a clear vision of what you want for your wedding, stick with it, and don’t let others change your mind,” Gloria says.

Meet the Couple: Tyson and Gloria Stoverink

Hometowns: Gloria is from St. Peters, Missouri, and Tyson is from Jackson, Missouri. The couple resides in Jackson.

How he proposed

I blindfolded Gloria and took her to a big field where we used to do cross country workouts in college and where we went the first time we ever hung out alone. I read a passage from the Bible and asked her to marry me. After she said yes, I took her to the track where all of our friends and teammates were waiting for us, cheering.

Meet the Photographer: Aimee Westrich, Aimee Elizabeth Photography

I like to go into photo sessions with more of a documentary approach. My aim is to capture mostly raw, candid moments where I don’t just photograph the people themselves, but rather the essence of who they are and what their story is.




Austin Sander matched the floral in his custom Air Jordan 1 Retros with his tie a nod to his passion for athletic footwear when he married his wife Madeline, whom he met in art class during high school. The best part of the day? “Kissing the beautiful bride, duh,” Austin says. “I’m more than blessed to be able to call my best friend my wife.”

Wedding Planning: Gail Nanney

Meet the Couple: Austin and Madeline Sander

Hometown: Jackson, Missouri. Now residing in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wedding Inspiration

Austin and I both spent the majority of our childhoods outside until the sun went down. So for our wedding, I drew a lot of inspiration from that time in our lives. I just wanted something soft, simple and fresh. To me, this meant weightless fabrics, lots of greenery and vintage details borrowed from everyone in the family. Basically, if it didn’t remind me of afternoons spent outside lying on my great-grandmother’s abundance of pastel quilts, it did not get approved for the big day.

Meet the Photographer: Shannon Duggan, Shannon Duggan Photography

My photography blends fine art and fun. I love being able to show an event as it took place true, clean color is more my style. But my favorite part of working with people is getting to bring out who they are in the images. I always have them running around to capture natural, candid images.




Paige and Tyler Bruce were married on Paige’s family farm, located beside her parents’ home. The barn they held their reception in was built in 1880 and has been in Paige’s family since 1954; it is one of the oldest still-standing, two-story barns in Missouri. Paige has many childhood memories in the barn with her two brothers, and since she was little, it is the only place she’s wanted to get married. Many of Paige and Tyler’s family members and friends helped renovate the barn to prepare it for the wedding.

Wedding planning: Whitney McFall at Weddings by Whitney

Meet the Couple: Tyler and Paige Bruce

Hometowns: Paige is from Jackson, Missouri. Tyler was born in Granbury, Texas, and moved to Cape Girardeau when he was 13. The couple resides in Jackson.

How they met

I had recently bought my first house and wanted to put up a wall in old barn wood. Tyler, who knew my dad, was clearing land and barns for a subdivision going in on Old Hopper in Cape Girardeau and told my dad, “Take whatever you want.” I showed up to help, and there was Mr. Tyler Bruce in his high-lift taking down the barn. We started talking, and the rest is history.

Meet the Photographer: Sheena Fought, Esprit Jolie Photography

My style of photography is raw; it’s unscripted, energetic, loud, fun, bold and colorful. I don’t like the posey-pose type; I like to be see real smiles and laughs. Freezing real moments while they happen is my passion!