04/03/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT
In 2001 Rusty Yates came home to find a tragedy beyond description: His wife, Andrea, in an act that made headlines around the world, had drowned their five children.
On March 18 Yates, 41, surrounded by more than 100 family members and friends, embarked on a new life: At the Clear Lake Church of Christ in Houston, he married Laura Arnold, also 41.
The bride wore a backless white prom dress with sparkly beading. Arnold's children Kyle, 21, and Mose, 9, served as usher and ring bearer, respectively. After the 25-minute ceremony—the children's funerals had been held at this same church—Byron Fike, the officiating minister, said that Yates has "risen above any temptation to pity himself.... He has chosen, instead, to move on with his life."
Afterward guests reassembled at a nearby mansion to dine casually on chicken, veggies and dip. The informal tone struck by an absence of dancing or assigned seating was reinforced by the whimsical ball and chain perched atop the groom's chocolate cake. Although both Yates and Arnold work for NASA—he's an engineer, she's employed by a contractor—the two met after Rusty befriended her son Kyle. "She seems very sweet," says Rusty's aunt, Rev. Fairy Caroland. "They seem very compatible." In lieu of gifts, guests were asked to make donations to the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston in memory of Yates's children or Arnold's mother.
A day after the wedding the newlyweds flew to Florida to embark on a Caribbean cruise. The next day Andrea, who was transferred from Harris County Jail to Rusk State Hospital in February, learned that her capital murder retrial will begin June 22. "His life, obviously, goes on," Andrea's attorney George Parnham says of Rusty. "I want to make certain that [his wedding] doesn't negatively impact Andrea emotionally.... These are trying times for her—literally and figuratively."