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Wedding Vows over Hunger Buster

By Charlotte Heldenbrand 

Overton Press editor

When Julia Dailey and Phil Caldwell got married on New Year’s Day, they had no reservations about exchanging vows in a local restaurant. The couple met around six months ago at the Dairy Queen in Overton and several times prior to Saturday’s ceremony the bridegroom pointed out the booth near the front window where that first date took place. “We have breakfast every Sunday morning right there,” Caldwell said. “Isn’t that cool, the first day of the new year, having a wedding?”

People’s reaction to the wedding site? “They laugh; they can’t believe it,” he said with a smile, adding it was his fiancée’s idea “But I agreed with it.”

Caldwell is accustomed to making folks laugh, since as a member of the Shriners, Caldwell entertains as a clown and goes by “Dumpling.” And his new bride has taken to it as well, dressing up and answering to “Mrs. Dumpling.” They participated at last October’s Fall Fest in downtown Overton, as well as riding in a clown car during the 2010 Christmas parade. “I’ve been clowning since 1965,” he said. “The first time I met her mother and daddy I was in clown makeup at the Dairy Queen. They wanted to see me in the raw, so to speak,” Caldwell said of their desire to see him without makeup. He works for Carrier Air Conditioning in Longview.

His new bride says they originally planned a Valentine’s Day ceremony but figured they could do without a big ceremony and the accompanying stress by marrying where they met. “That’s one of my favorite places to hang out in Overton,” she said with a laugh, adding it was the location of their first date. “I had never met him and this was a place people knew me so it was safe. My family and I go there every Sunday night after church.”

Mrs. Caldwell is the daughter of longtime Overton residents Ethel and Tom Beene. Around 30 people attended the wedding. Guests moved tables out of the way to make room for the ceremony and those in the restaurant who were there just to eat also watched with interest as the festivities began. Although an ice cream cake was planned for the reception, neither the bride nor the groom got cold feet before the ceremony.

As with many weddings, the ring bearer and flower girl backed out, but this might have been the first time when the pastor introduced the newlyweds he had to raise his voice over the sound of someone getting a refill at the Coke machine.

Brian Etheridge, pastor of Overton Missionary Baptist Church, officiated at the nuptials. The pastor’s wife, Kimberly, said they were surprised when the bride-elect told them of the couple’s plans. “She sent it over to me in a text. I said, ‘Do what?’ ” Mrs. Etheridge said. “He did do a wedding last night at a restaurant in Tyler, so why not?”

That philosophy carried over to others as well. One of the Dairy Queen employees commented, “Well, we have birthday parties up here, so why not?”

Several of Dailey’s co-workers from Overton ISD attended, including T.J. Rucker, principal of the middle school (Dailey is his secretary); librarian LeAnn McDaniel; counselor Marty Barbieri; Rebecca Dyson, special education aide; and Cassie Bayless, art teacher.

In fact, the art teacher introduced the couple. “I knew him from church, Friendly Baptist Church in Tyler,” Bayless said. “He kept asking me did I know somebody (he could date). I told him ‘I know someone.’ I told him that for a year and when the Lord was ready…I went to her and asked ‘Are you seeing anyone? I know a man who’s a Christian. He’s awesome; you’re awesome.’

“The second I told her he’s a clown for the Shriners her eyes lit up. Phil said, ‘Cassie, I wish you had thought of her name a year ago.’ I said, ‘No, Phil, she wasn’t ready. The Lord worked it out.’ “

Bayless expressed her thankfulness in the results of her matchmaking. “I’m so happy,” she said. “She’s a clown with him.”

Mrs. Caldwell expected a humorous reaction to their plans and was not disappointed. “They laughed and said, ‘Julia, you’re hilarious.’ But people who know me know I like Dairy Queen. This was casual and less stressful. We were going to have a big to-do in February and we thought, ‘Why?’ We knew this was meant to be.”

One Response to “Wedding Vows over Hunger Buster”

  1. Pat Srygley says:

    That just sounds like Julia Dailey to get married at a Dairy Queen. Julia is a very down to earth lady. We (my husband Monte and I) have known her for a long time. We haven’t seen her in years, but the times that we did have a social gathering..she was just such a pleasure to be around. Always laughing.
    Julia was, is and will always be a loving, christian woman.

    Our wish for her and new husband, Phil is that they have a lasting journey of love and happiness.

    Congratulations Julia and Phil.

    Monte and Pat Srygley

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