The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs


- Story by BETH BRIGHT


January of 2012, Meredith Emerson and Zach Sykora met at the Arkansas Fire Training Academy as rookies earning their Firefighte­r I and II certificat­ions. Meredith now works as an administra­tive assistant and services coordinato­r for the Mercy Hyperbaric Wound Center while Zach is a full-time firefighte­r in Hot Springs Village. The two enjoy hunting together and spending time with family and friends.

While helping Meredith move into her new house, Zach proposed on June 4, 2013. She could tell he was nervous, but brushed it off. After explaining how much he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, Zach dropped to one knee and asked “Meredith Ashley, will you marry me?”

“Out of shock, I gasped ‘Are you kidding me?’” Meredith said. “I asked ‘Well did you ask my dad?’ and he informed me that he did ask my dad. He then had to ask me a second time to marry him before it registered in my head to give the poor boy and answer.”

It was the most perfect, intimate moment that the two will cherish for the rest of their lives.

“I didn’t even look at my 2 carat diamond ring for the first 20 or 30 minutes because I was in such shock,” she said.

The big day: We were married by our pastor, David Tappe, on Oct. 26, 2013.

Best Best Man Man and and Maid Maid of of Honor: Honor: The best man was Zach’s younger brother, Tyler Sykora, and my maid of honor was my older sister, Brittany Ladd.

The location: The decision to marry in our church was very easy. The Village Church of Christ is where Zach grew up, and it is where I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and was baptized. It is a very special place to both of us.

The The reception: reception: Like our ceremony, our reception was also held in our church. It was a dessert-only reception. We had a beautiful bride’s cake with real roses on it, and a camouflage­d groom’s cake. For drinks we had punch made out of orange sherbet and ginger ale.

The dress: I got my dress from Low’s Bridal and Formal in Brinkley. My dress was ivory and strapless, and had a beautiful decorative belt. The top was satin and the rest of the dress was lace. It also had a long train.

The look: Fall has always been my favorite time of the year so we used fall colors. I had plum and purple colors for my bridesmaid­s dresses and vests for the men’s tuxes. For the flowers, I had the typical fall colors – orange, yellow, red. My aisle had bows on each pew made out of tulle. There were pumpkins and fall-colored maple leaves lining the aisles as well. My bouquets were all made from Ms. Yoland at Michael’s. She does amazing work with artificial flowers. To accommodat­e our outdoorsy and hunting lifestyle, we had flowers put into shotgun hulls for our boutonnier­es. They turned out beautiful.

Most unforgetta­ble moment: For me, there are two unforgetta­ble moments. The first is seeing my husband’s reaction the first time he saw me. I have never felt so beautiful and so overwhelme­d in my entire life. I am so excited to spend my life with my very best friend. The second unforgetta­ble moment was when Zach turned to the best man for the ring. Tyler handed him an empty box. After asking all the groomsmen “Do you have it?” I see a stuffed duck – since Zach loves duck hunting – flying toward us. Then I hear one of the groomsmen yell “Take ‘em!” All the boys then pulled out a fake pop gun to “shoot” the mallard flying in. When Zach caught the duck, my wedding band was safely attached with a safety pin to it. It was hilarious and definitely unforgetta­ble.

The honeymoon: We went on a 7-day cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. While on our honeymoon, we swam with stingrays, hung out on the beach and rode a Jamaican bobsled. It was a blast!

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