Lonsdale, MN Engagement Photographer | Bill and Candis

If one could catalog each life event and analyze the data, there would undoubtedly be some startling revelations and coincidences. For example, Candis Bastyr and William Parkos would hardly be surprised if they somehow discovered that they actually first crossed paths at a wedding.

It seems as though each milestone in the couple’s relationship has centered around the nuptials of others. As is turns out, though, the two first met in a tavern.

Stockings Hung With Care

Bill is a hardworking man with sort of an aw-shucks disposition. The fruits of his labor are hidden in plain sight. They’re in the stable ground our homes are built on and below the roads we rely on to get us from one place to the next every day.

A year after graduating from Montgomery-Lonsdale High School in 2003, Bill began working as a heavy equipment operator for a contractor specializing in earth moving.

When the weather is cooperating, it’s not uncommon for Bill to leave his home at 5 a.m. and not return until 9 p.m. It’s not a glamorous job, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world.

“It’s nice being outside all of the time, and not having the restraint of being in the same place every day,” Bill said.

On a cold November evening in the winter of 2006, Bill stopped in to what was then Railway Liquors (now Whistle Stop Tavern and Grill)  in Lonsdale, MN, knowing he wouldn’t have to take the helm of a bulldozer the next morning. He was anticipating to savor a few libations and share laughs among friends.

What Bill wasn’t expecting, however, was to cross paths with Candis. He did so quite literally — walking directly under a ladder she was perched on to hang Christmas decorations for her mom (Candis wasn’t an employee of the tavern) as he walked in the door.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Be careful there,” Candis said to Bill and his friends.

That innocuous warning was enough to catch the attention of Bill, though he didn’t show it. He and his friends were soon striking up a conversation with Candis while she continued to decorate. She was enlisted by her mother to write names on miniature stockings and hang them up on an iron wall screen in the bar.

In short time, Candis and Bill realized they had many friends in common. Despite growing up in small towns near one another, they hadn’t previously met since Candis was a year older and attended New Prague High School about 10 miles away.

At the time, she had just returned home from earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN, and had started her new post as a “Jill of All Trades” for the City of Lonsdale Police Department.

There, she supervised the evidence room and performed as an office clerk in addition to her many other duties as a civilian employee. With few opportunities to put her studies in biochemistry and biology to good use in her hometown, Candis said she was happy to take on her position at the station house.

“I always wanted a family and I always wanted to be close to my family here (in the Lonsdale area),” Candis said. She planned on using the position as a gateway to the world of forensics.

However, it didn’t take a scientific investigation to realize a connection was starting to form between Candis and Bill. After returning home from school, Candis began to frequent the tavern to visit with family and friends more often, and eventually even took a part-time job there. It seemed as though Bill’s face was showing up more and more, and that the two were always talking.

“I noticed (Bill) and I liked him, but I wasn’t flirting with him by any means,” Candis said.

The bashful dance continued between them for nearly five months before an official connection was made.

Wedding Bells are Ringing

While Candis and Bill were hanging out with mutual friends in the spring of 2007, Bill was talking about his role as an usher for the upcoming wedding of his brother, Scott. One of their friends, Kristi Power, asked Bill if he was bringing anyone to the wedding. He had no plans to do so. With Candis standing in the midst of the conversation, Kristi bluntly asserted: “Take Candis.”

After recovering from the initial awkwardness of Kristi’s ploy to help Bill get a date, he agreed as did Candis. An official first date was set for May 19, 2007.

Having their first date at a wedding turned out to be a much more positive experience for Candis and Bill than either had expected. The often unpleasant get-to-know-you chitchat and awkward pauses in conversation were absent as there were so many events propelling the date.

Candis was able to get to know Bill’s family relatively quickly. And she had the benefit of being able to check out Bill’s moves on the dance floor.

“Bill hated dancing and said the only time he would dance was when he was in a tux,” Candis said. “He wasn’t too bad. He just had to keep moving.”

“I can slow dance!” Bill added.

In between Bill’s official duties in the wedding party, he and Candis had a lot of time to spend together and enjoyed each other’s company. Candis stayed until the last dance of the night, but she would have to wait a bit longer to receive her first good-night kiss from Bill.

The next day, Bill called Candis to glean her impression from their time spent at the wedding. To Bill’s delight, he found out that Candis wasn’t at all put off by the unorthodox nature of their first date.

“I wouldn’t recommend (having a first date at a wedding) to everybody,” Bill said. “But for us it worked out. I had fun.”

Within days the two were hanging out again, though neither recalled if they were specifically “dates” or not. What is certain, though, is that the two officially became a couple on May 23, 2007.

As Bill approached the driveway to drop Candis off at her parents’ home, where she was staying at the time, they hobbled around the topic of their relationship status.

Bill: “So, what? Are we, like, dating now?”

Candis: “I don’t know. You never asked me.”

Bill: “So, will you be my girlfriend?”

Candis giggled and said “yes.” Her reply was followed by a first kiss for the couple in the driveway. It wouldn’t be the last time Bill needed a gentle nudge from Candis.

In Step

Candis and Bill continued to learn from one another and grow closer over the next two years. They enjoyed the art of long phone conversations, dining out, traveling and sharing in new experiences.

The couple was introduced to the world of wine together and has since made a point to visit area wineries. Candis was always there to cheer on her man when Bill played in a Thursday night bowling league, and she was even able to coax him on to the golf course, albeit mini golf at the Mall of America.

In between outings to a Twins game or their favorite restaurant, Candis and Bill learned that what really made the two of them work as a couple is that they compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I like that Bill is a little shy,” Candis said. “I’m a very social person, so if I’m too loud or too social, Bill is always there to pull me back a bit.”

And Candis is always there to push Bill forward when he’s a little reluctant, like when the couple started looking at homes together and talking about their future. One night, at a wedding of course, the conversation stretched to the dance floor.

It was exactly two years from their first date, and at the same venue (the American Legion in Montgomery, MN), so naturally, Candis and Bill were thinking and talking about where they were headed in their relationship. Both mentioned they wanted to be married.

“Why don’t we just get engaged already?” Candis said.

Then, as a handful of couples slow danced around them, Bill got down on one knee and said that he and Candis were best friends and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

“Will you marry me?” he said.

She said “yes.”

“I was shocked at first.” Candis said. “I was really excited. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the next week.”

While the couple tried their best not to take away from the excitement of the wedding couple, their news quickly spread. Wedding guests were congratulating them all night.

“I would have rather waited until I had a ring and do it the traditional way,” Bill said. “But being spontaneous is fun.”

Weddings have served as milestones in Candis’ and Bill’s relationship, and now, they’ll have the opportunity to be married at one. The couple is planning to be married on the 28th wedding anniversary of Candis’ mother and father, April 27, 2012, in Veseli, MN.

Just how they’ll top a first-date wedding and a proposal wedding remains to be seen.

“I’ll think of something,” Bill said.