ONE THREAD has kept Tony Grove and Stella Grove (Hardnock) tied to each other: their beloved city of Columbia. The couple began as friends, graduating from rival high schools Hickman (Stella) and Rock Bridge (Tony). They didn’t spark a relationship, however, until years later. Tony returned from the University of Central Missouri after graduating in 2009, and the two ran into each other. “We both love calling Columbia home,” Tony says. Stella’s mother, Celeste Hardnock, founded the downtown boutique My Sister’s Circus, and Stella now manages the store. Tony runs Grove construction.
Tony says he knew fairly early in that he was “so happy” and that Stella might have just been the one for him. After conversations with Celeste and a little help from family, he planned a Christmas Eve proposal as the ultimate gift for Stella. Tony says he was nervous about her “rifling through” the gifts because she’s not a fan of surprises. After every gift was opened, one remained. Stella opened one box to find yet another box. Eventually, there was the ring. “I don’t like to wait for stuff,” Stella says. “I was so surprised and had no idea he was going to ask.” But soon enough there were no more surprises. They had a wedding to plan.
Much like the city they love, the couple tries to never move too fast or stress too much. With an evening wedding on Jan. 19, 2013, the couple spent their day getting ready with their wedding parties. The men watched the Missouri basketball team take on Florida, and the women prepared their hair and makeup. “It was our day, but I just really wanted her to be happy,” Tony says. “We loved that it was a relaxing day.” The sign at the Missouri Theatre even announced their wedding day, which they snapped photos in front of. The couple was married at Our Lady of Lourdes, which was directly followed by a reception at Lela Raney Wood Hall.
Stella may have been laid back when it comes to planning, but she does have one particular predilection: bling. And lots of it. Her dress was covered in crystals, including a custom-made train and veil. “It seemed 900 feet long,” Tony says. Karen Jones of Crystal Brooch Bouquets has been featured on TLC’s Brides of Beverly Hills and specially designed a bouquet for Stella. This bouquet, however, was made entirely of broaches. Weighing nearly 10 pounds, Stella opted to throw a separate flower bouquet instead.
The two have plans to look at buying a home, take a few Ozark trips, and enjoy married life in the city they love with the people they love.
“Our families are so important to us, and we’re really excited for our future in Columbia,” Tony says.
“But taking care of our two dogs (Stumpy and Winston) is enough for the moment,” Stella says.