Tad Middleton’s unconventional tactic of proposing to his girlfriend, Melissa “Missy” Sheets, may have alluded to the couple’s unique wedding.
“To really understand the story of our wedding, you should hear about the proposal,” Middleton said.
Middleton met Sheets through a mutual friend. Sheets has an adopted daughter, Ella, who was nearly 3 when the two met.
“We went out on a date, and things just clicked between us,” Middleton said. “We’ve been together ever since.”
After dating for two years, Middleton realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Sheets, and the couple decided to purchase a house together.
The day they moved into their new home, while Sheets was at Ella’s tee-ball game, Middleton wrote “Will you marry me?” on the bathroom mirror in red lipstick, and then called Sheets.
“I called and told her something was wrong with the bathroom sink, and she better check it when she got home,” Middleton said. “Right after that, I received a phone call. I was the program director of the Boys and Girls Club at that time, and there had been a dog bite at a baseball game. I had to go help. So, I went up to the field.”
In the meantime, Sheets came home and read Middleton’s romantic message, but he was nowhere in sight. She immediately called him and said yes.
“Basically, I proposed, and I wasn’t even there,” Middleton said, laughing. “Missy and I left the proposal on the mirror for a while, so when people came to see our new home, they could see it, too.”
Sheets and Middleton purchased a marriage license and agreed they would be married soon, but they didn’t really sort out any of the details. Middleton actually had a plan up his sleeve: Operation Tie the Knot.
As part of his ruse, Middleton told Sheets he had won an award, which would be presented to him at Lewis and Clark Community College July 10, 2009. When the day came, Middleton said he had to go to the awards ceremony early, and a friend, Tim Lowrance, picked him up.
He rushed off to the Rose Garden at Gordon Moore Park in Alton, where he, along with a plethora of family and friends, began preparing for his wedding.
“There was a lot of coordination involved behind the scenes,” Middleton said. “My family helped a lot. Her family helped a lot, and it just came together really well. I even bought ‘Operation Tie the Knot’ T-shirts for friends and family who came to the wedding.”
Jeanette Lowrance picked Sheets and Ella up as if they were going to L&C. When they arrived, all dressed up for the awards ceremony, Middleton asked Sheets, “Would you like to get married today?”
With no rehearsal, the ceremony began, and Ella mistakenly dumped the entire basket of flower petals at the end of the aisle when prompted to fulfill her flower girl duties by Middleton’s sister, Tori Haynes.
“We all laughed when Ella dumped the petals out at the beginning of the walkway,” Middleton said. “We will always cherish the photos we have of her standing with all the petals at her feet.”
Middleton’s brother-in-law, Mark Haynes, served as his best man, and Sheets’ sister, Michele Grohmann, was the maid of honor. Friends and family members watched as the couple exchanged vows.
“The most important people in our lives were there, and that just brought it all together for the perfect day,” Middleton said. “It worked out the way I wanted. She was happy, and I was happy.”
But, how did Sheets, now Mrs. Middleton, feel about the experience?
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I knew we were going to get married at some point, but it was a complete surprise. I didn’t expect it to be then and there. It was great. We just wanted something simple with friends and family, and that’s what we got.”
Right after they married, Tad adopted Ella.
The Middletons live in Bethalto. Tad is a donor relations consultant for Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, and Melissa teaches first grade at Bethalto East Primary School. Ella is now 10 years old, and her baby brother, Camden, is 4.