4/10/2017 1:52:00 PM Parlor nuptials Behouneks hold wedding ceremony in milking facility
Heather and Keith Behounek exchange vows during their wedding ceremony on Feb. 18 in their milking parlor on their dairy near Hayfield, Minn. PHOTO SUBMITTED
The cake for Heather and Keith Behounekís wedding was a to-scale replica of their dairyís freestall barn and parlor where they milk 280 cows near Hayfield, Minn. Keith and Heatherís mom made the cake. PHOTO SUBMITTED
HAYFIELD, Minn. - For Heather and Keith Behounek, the milking parlor holds a special place in their hearts. It's where they met, where their romance budded and where they spent a large amount of time during the dating stage of their relationship. So, when it came time to choose a place to hold their wedding ceremony, the choices narrowed quickly to the most logical location. "Why not have our wedding in the parlor," Heather said. Feb. 18 is a day Heather and Keith will never forget as the couple exchanged vows in the family's double-8 parlor in between milkings on their 280-cow dairy near Hayfield, Minn. "It was amazing, but it went by so fast," Heather said about their wedding day. "We couldn't replicate it if we tried. It was perfect." On Feb. 18, milking started at 5 a.m. - 45 minutes earlier than normal. "It was all hands on deck. All but one of the staff members were here," Keith said, explaining there were five people there that morning instead of the usual three. "We were cleaning, milking and getting chores done all at the same time." Usually the team is done with morning chores at 11, but on wedding day, everything was finished by 9 a.m. At 10:15, they had the parlor pressure-washed and scrubbed clean in order to decorate. "We had one heck of a crew," Keith said. About 20 family members and friends showed up to transform the parlor from a milking facility into a wedding destination. Heather's mom, Sarah Cameron, sewed a large drape to cover the opening of the parlor where the freezer strips hang. "We didn't know what the weather was going to be, so we planned to have (the parlor) completely enclosed with the drape so it would be warm," Keith said. Although the Behouneks had a winter wedding, the day's temperature reached 60 degrees. "We didn't really need the drape to keep us warm, but it looked better with it up," Keith said. "Before the wedding, we were hanging out outside with sunglasses on and without jackets. It was a nice day." Keith created framework to add more draping and lace to fit at the top of the stairs in front of their holding area where they would be married. They also added icicle lights to hang inside the parlor to add to the celebratory ambiance. "I made the framework, but it was all Heather's vision," Keith said about the décor. After they finished decorating at 1 p.m., the Behouneks were ready to walk down the parlor aisle by 3:30 that afternoon. Guests sat in chairs that lined each side of the parlor, on the parlor deck and in the back. With the limited amount of space in the parlor, the Behouneks had about 60 people at the ceremony, while over 200 attended their reception, which was held at an event center in nearby Kasson, Minn. The ceremony started with a short welcome by their officiant followed by their vows and the lighting of their unity candle. To signify their families merging, they included their children in the lighting of the unity candle - Heather's children, Nicole, 27, and her daughter, Kaydence, 2 months; Sabrina, 26, and her son, Xavier, 3; CJ, 24; Tristin, 21; and Tessa, 21, along with Heather and Keith's son, Kutter, 1. "From start to finish it was only seven minutes long," Keith said about the ceremony. Following the day's farm theme, the Behouneks' wedding cake was a made-to-scale replica of their freestall barn and parlor. "It started as a joke and then Heather said we couldn't do it. So then it turned into a challenge," Keith said. "I even had a ruler out [when baking]." Keith and Heather's mom, who bakes specialty cakes as a hobby, made a practice cake to perfect it for the big day. "I started coming up with ideas and she went along with it. It turned out slick," Keith said, who doesn't have much experience with baking or decorating cakes. It turned out well, just like everything else of their wedding, the Behouneks said. The two have known each other since August 2012 when Heather was hired for a milking job. At first Keith called Heather the Why Girl. "I asked a lot of questions. That's how I learned," she said. Although Heather didn't have any dairy experience, she had horses. "So the cows didn't intimidate me," Heather said. But Keith did. "He made me nervous. At first my heart would jump when the skidloader started because I knew he was in the barn," Heather said. "And whenever he would stand at the top of the stairs in the parlor while I was milking I would screw up." Both Keith and Heather chalk it up to Keith being a shy guy and not talking much about anything other than cows for the first two months Heather worked. But then the conversations started to change. "After milking we would sit there talking for a half hour or so," Keith said. "We eventually became really good friends, and we're still really good friends." On Halloween, the two started dating. "He was more on the fence about it than I was until another gentleman asked me out. Then he committed to the relationship," Heather said with a laugh. Much of their relationship was spent in the parlor milking together. "That was almost better than dating," Keith said. "We work so well together." Three years later, Keith proposed on Halloween. The couple gives a lot of credit to Keith's parents, Ron and Rhonda. "Without them there wouldn't be a barn and without the barn there wouldn't be an us," Heather said. Now after their wedding ceremony, Keith and Heather can add another reason why the parlor is special to them. "It started here, it continues here and if we have anything to do about it, it will end here," Heather said.