Photographed by Buffy Dekmar
A court reporter says “I do” to her deputy at this laid-back celebration on the farm.
Written by Rachel Coon
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hey say they’re laid-back country folk, but Leslie Queen and Dixon Pruitt sure know how to have a good time. By day she’s a court reporter for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and he’s a deputy for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department. But by night, they’re a couple of Harley-Davidson riding, Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrating, Mardi Gras going youngsters at heart.
The pair grew up in Clarksburg but never knew of each other until 2008 when Dixon started testifying in Leslie’s courtroom on cases he was working. It took years for the pair to spark. “He was always complimenting me on how pretty I was,” Leslie remembers. One day in the courtroom, they finally clicked. “I remember she was wearing a beautiful dress the day we really started talking,” Dixon says. He was surprised to learn Leslie had her own Harley-Davidson motorcycle. “We started talking about going on a ride together, but we’d tease about whose bike we would take,” Leslie laughs. They had their first date March 22, 2012, at Clarksburg’s famous Ritzy Lunch Hot Dogs Thursday Bike Night. “We went on his Harley, not mine,” Leslie confesses. Shared interests turned into attraction. “Dixon describes me as beautiful and intelligent with a sense of humor, while I would describe him as handsome and very funny, and I admire that he’s a retired veteran.”
As love blossomed, Dixon hatched an extravagant plan. He, Leslie, and some friends and family would go to New York City to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2012 in Times Square. Though the couple had talked about getting engaged and even looked at rings, Leslie had no idea what the new year would bring. To avoid having to carry the ring through airport security, Dixon sent the ring ahead with his soon-to-be fiancée’s sister and niece. “Everyone knew but me. My niece later sent me a picture of the ring going through the metal detector at the airport,” Leslie recalls. When it was time for the ball to drop, Dixon pulled Leslie behind the barriers in Times Square (a special arrangement he’d made in advance with the New York City cops) and dropped to one knee as the crowd cheered.
The Case for Love
This wasn’t the first marriage for Leslie or Dixon, but that didn’t stop them from celebrating this second chance at romance. “I’d basically given up and never thought I’d find love again, but I did,” Leslie says. Dixon agrees. “I finally met my soul mate,” he says. “I am truly happy.”
Choosing an officiant was simple—Leslie has worked with the Honorable Thomas A. Bedell, a Harrison County circuit judge, for more than 20 years, and his courtroom was where the bride and groom first met. “We thought it would be special to have Judge Bedell marry us, and when we asked, he graciously agreed.” The venue was just as much a given. “We knew all along we wanted a laid-back, country wedding on the farm,” Leslie says. They chose the bride’s twin sister’s family farm in Mount Clare.
The setting was informal, though spectacularly adorned with country chic flowers and greenery—roses, hydrangeas, mums, and more in warm autumn colors—and the schedule was without restrictions. When it came time for the ceremony, Leslie says, “We just said, ‘OK, everybody, we’re going to walk up to the barn and get married now.’ It wasn’t a formal wedding where we had to do things at certain times. It was such a fun day.”
The bride and groom’s friends and family—including four sets of twins, two of which are Dixon and his twin sister, Lisa, and Leslie and her twin sister, also Lisa—took their seats on hay bales and sipped champagne, kept chilled in a classic flat-bottom jon boat set with mums and a silver bucket of bubbly between the benches. “The boat was my brother-in-law’s dad’s boat and it’s always on the pond there on the farm,” Leslie explains. “It’s a part of the scenery, a part of the farm, and we wanted to incorporate as many original farm things as we could to make it look like true country living.”
The ceremony lasted only a few minutes as Leslie, in a knee-length ivory lace dress and cowgirl boots, stood below custom-made moss letters and vowed to love and cherish Dixon for the rest of their days. As the newlyweds turned toward the reception tent, their guests showered them with confetti the bride’s niece had collected from their engagement night at Times Square.
The most important thing for Leslie and Dixon as they began planning their wedding was making sure his family would be there to celebrate with them on October 12, 2013. Many traveled from Mississippi and Tennessee, and the couple managed to have all four sets of twins in attendance. “We took pictures with all the twins in the family—that was special,” Leslie says. Her twin sister, Lisa, also had a great part in the wedding planning. “We were just going to do something small, nothing extravagant, but my sister got involved and made it magical—a dream wedding. There was nothing left undone.” From the catering by Bridgeport Conference Center to the flowers and decor, like the draping and floral garland framing the barn doors for the ceremony, provided by Blooms Florist, Lisa attended to every last detail. “She even had a fancy indoor/outdoor toilet brought in on a trailer,” Leslie laughs. “This porta-potty type thing with extra restrooms for the guests—with a radio and air conditioning.”
Golf carts and drivers were on hand to bring guests from remote parking spots up to the reception tent. Handled Mason jars inscribed with the bride and groom’s names and filled with coffee beans and candles were given as favors to each guest to help light their way around the evening festivities. Family favorites like fritti, an Italian pastry and Queen family tradition made by Leslie’s aunt, were served. “Dixon’s family isn’t Italian, so they’d never heard of fritti,” says Leslie. “It was a huge hit.” Renee from Torchia’s Bakery also created a beautiful display with all kinds of homemade Italian cookies, many of which went home with guests at the end of the night. The groom had an oh-so-fitting cowboy boot cake, and the newlyweds cut into a four-tier traditional white cake with unfinished icing, a perfect touch for their country theme with its bark-like look.
The Verdict: A Perfect Day
Having fun with family and friends was what Leslie and Dixon were ultimately after, and accomplish that they did. Their celebration went on for days with dinner Friday, brunch Saturday, a photo session with their pups (his 20-pound shih tzu and her 160- and 230-pound English mastiffs), a late lunch Sunday afternoon, and plenty of reminiscing. By the time the wedding day arrived, in all of its splendid autumn glory, the bride, groom, and their loved ones were primed to party. “My brother, Mike, and Dixon’s brother, Wayne, gave a really nice—and very funny—toast where we all had to wear cowboy hats and everybody who took a drink got a sheriff’s badge.”
John Angotti, a Clarksburg native whose mother once taught piano to Leslie and her siblings, traveled with his band from Nashville to provide entertainment and had everyone on the dance floor all night long, doing the traditional Italian chicken dance and trains around the tent. Several guests ended up on stage with their instruments, and the band even worked with Leslie and Dixon on a surprise first dance. “We had a few toasts and a few drinks, and we were afraid we’d get too tipsy to pull it off,” Leslie laughs. But they did. “Nobody realized what we were doing.” They began slowly dancing to “God Gave Me You,” then broke into a fast routine to “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, and before guests knew it, Dixon was doing pushups on the dance floor. “It was probably one of our most special moments,” Leslie says. The night ended with surprise fireworks over the pond. “Everything was perfect,” she says. “I can’t imagine one thing we could have wanted that we didn’t have.”