Mike Stedham dances with daughter Jenny

Mike Stedham, father of the bride, dances with daughter Jenny at her wedding in St Louis, Mo.

It’s not every day I’m invited to a wedding at a brewery, so of course I had to go. Not that I’m a big fan of breweries. My go-to beer is Michelob Ultra, but still, a wedding in a brewery! That’s a first for me.

The bride was Anniston native Jenny Stedham, daughter of Mike and Brenda Stedham and sister to Kate.

I figured it would take some arm-twisting to convince my husband, Tim, to go. He doesn’t have anything against weddings; he just doesn’t like to go to them. This particular wedding was 500 miles away in St. Louis, Mo., home turf of the groom, Jon Tourville.

To my surprise, Tim thought it’d be a fun getaway, especially if we made a road trip out of it.

We took off on a Thursday morning and stopped in Jasper to have lunch with Rev. Joe Lody, a former associate pastor at Anniston’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. He is now the parish priest at St. Cecilia Catholic Church and he’s a Mac-user, which is how he and my MacGeek of a husband originally bonded.

From Jasper, we traveled to Tupelo, Miss., where we spent the afternoon touring Elvis’ birthplace. Not that I’m a big Elvis fan, but when in Rome ….

That night we had dinner at a downtown restaurant called Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen. It was quirky and unique. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, go there! We had a sidewalk table and could hear a festival going on two streets down. We were told it was a regular Thursday night thing and, for a weeknight, it was packed with residents of all ages. It took place on a block that reminded me of Zinn Park, with a live band at one end. The outlying area was dotted with a variety of food trucks, but it was the craft beer trucks that boasted the longest lines. (Smart thinking there, Tupelo.)

The next morning we hit the road for Memphis, a city I’ve never visited even though I was born and raised in the South. We met up with former Annistonians Cyndi and Jim Maxwell, who now reside there. After a walk up and down Beale Street, we settled in for lunch at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. It may look like a dive, but there’s a good reason why there’s a long wait for a table.

From Memphis, we headed over the Mississippi River into Arkansas and on to Cape Girardeau, Mo., our overnight stopping place.

We arrived in St. Louis the next morning and did all the touristy stuff. We took a slew of pictures of the famous Arch and toured the Anheuser-Busch facility, where we saw the famous Clydesdales up close. Afterward we attended mass at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Church, a massive structure built in 1860 that once served as the cathedral for the local archdiocese.

The wedding took place later that evening at the Schlafly Tap Room in the heart of the city. Let me tell you, Jenny made as beautiful a bride as I have ever seen. Watching Mike escort her down the aisle brought tears to my eyes. I’m such a softie when it comes to weddings.

Once the ceremony was complete and Jon and Jenny were officially wed, the officiant told Jon, “You may now kiss your wife for the very first time.” (Oh yeah, I boo-hoo’ed big time over that one.)

The reception that followed was loud and lively with great music and great food. Along with Jenny’s parents, sister and aunt, Carol Ann Smith, other Alabama friends who made the trip were Brittany and Will Clay, Pati Tiller, Patrick Doss, Susan Fant, Jessa Ramsay, Nathan Lee, Ellen Miller, Amanda Church, David and Christina Darby and their kids, Rowan and Rhianna.

The following morning, Tim and I traveled through Illinois and Kentucky before settling in for the night in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The next morning we headed home, dipping into Georgia along the way.

Our eight-state road trip is done, Jenny and Jon are hitched and Tim and I reunited with old friends along the way. Not bad for a long summer weekend.

Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at donnabarton@cableone.net.

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