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Meant to Meet

Meant to Meet

Amanda and Jeff Pope’s paths were nearly intertwined since grade school, but it took more than a decade until they met face to face. This month, they celebrate their first anniversary as husband and wife.

Amanda and Jeff Pope will celebrate their one-year anniversary this month after they tied the knot Sept. 28 last year. For anyone who knows the couple, it was a love story long in the making. And we’re not just talking about their courtship, which lasted almost a decade.

They attended the same elementary, middle, junior and high schools, but even with so many crossovers, the two never met face to face.

Both Amanda and Jeff grew up in Columbia only miles apart from each other. They attended the same elementary, middle, junior and high schools, but even with so many crossovers, the two never met face to face. It’s ironic that Amanda and Jeff never crossed paths through school, especially because multiple members of the bride and groom’s families had connections in some form or another.

As a young girl, Amanda met Erica Pope, Jeff’s sister, through Pony Club, which they were both involved in. Jeff met Amanda’s brother, Eric Sterchi, in grade school and even met up with him when the Sterchi family was on vacation in Colorado. Ironically, Amanda’s mom, Tesa Sterchi, also met Jeff on that same trip when he had an accident on his snowboard and smacked his head on a patch of ice. Tesa, a nurse, was called to tend to Jeff after the accident occurred.

“Little did she know, she was meeting her future son-in-law,” Amanda jokes.

Pope WeddingThe now husband-and-wife couple who dodged meeting each other for most of their lives finally laid eyes on each other at a New Year’s Eve party during Jeff’s senior year of high school.

“It was just minutes before I had to leave to make my curfew,” Amanda says. “But after that, we kept running into each other. I had my last period of my school day free, and Jeff, who had math as his last period, would often skip it so he could come talk to me. He also started making excuses to come over to our house to hang out with my brother a lot more after we met.”

Although the two became close friends, they ultimately ended up growing apart because Jeff was headed off to college, and Amanda was still heavily involved in high school activities. Luckily on Halloween of 2004, Jeff called Amanda on a whim and asked her to dinner. This spooky and sweet holiday was the beginning of their nine-year courtship.

Pope WeddingAs the years were tacked on to the couple’s history, Amanda started to wonder if Jeff was ever going to pop the question.

“I was definitely getting antsy,” Amanda says. “A lot was going on in both of our lives. We managed to keep our relationship going through my years in law school and me taking the boards, but I was starting to wonder if a proposal would ever happen. Jeff kept ensuring me that the timing wasn’t right.”

On Christmas Day 2012, Jeff proposed to Amanda while they opened gifts with his family. From there, the wedding planning went into full force.

“I have a very Type A personality,” Amanda says, “so I liked to be in control of a lot of the details. But my mom did help me a lot. I tried to stay hands off the day of the wedding so I wouldn’t stress out. I will admit that was a bit difficult for me.”

Pope WeddingAll of the details that Amanda and her mother worked so diligently on for nine months came together the day of the wedding.

One of the easiest parts of planning was choosing a location. Hosting their ceremony and reception at Columbia Country Club was a no-brainer because both Amanda and Jeff have a special connection to the club. Jeff says it was important for him to get married in a place of worship: the golf course.

“It was also meaningful to me since my grandparents used to be members at Columbia Country Club,” Amanda says. “A lot of my memories growing up included the club.”

And there was no lack of love on the fall afternoon when the bride and groom said their vows. Together with family and friends and a bridal party of 20, the couple was finally announced as husband and wife.

Most Memorable Weddings

by Leanne Geiss

In honor of my final article, I thought I would leave you with some of what I think are my most memorable weddings. There are all kinds of people out there in this great big world, and most of them are getting married and celebrating their day, their way. Enjoy.

Three-ring circus

Ah, the circus wedding. Yes, it sounds a little odd to get married under the big top, complete with red and white stripes, but what a blast! This wedding was detailed all the way down to the concession-styled food stands. We had corn dogs and funnel cake while guests strolled around, clowns serving cocktails and stilt walkers tossing candy. This couple really made their day special by incorporating what they loved most about their childhood. Although I’m not going to lie, at their first meeting I thought they were a little nuts, it turned out to be one of the weddings that will always stick with me. What a fun and unique couple.


Is there anything more unique at a wedding than a parade with an elephant? I think not. This amazing wedding could have come right out of Hollywood with all the glitz and glamour of any A-list event. With beautiful hand-embroidered linens and authentic cuisine, this wedding was a feast for all your senses. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more amazed by all their ideas, this couple springs an elephant. Um, yeah, I’m not even going to talk about what a challenge that was to arrange. But nothing will beat the sight of the groom riding to the ceremony on top of this huge and might I say rather slow-moving elephant. I had a timeline to keep to, and the elephant was blowing my usually punctual weddings. An elephant. Really?

A royal wedding

No, it’s not what you think. I didn’t get to plan Will and Kate’s big day. But I did get to recreate it. That’s just as close to planning the royal wedding, right? This royal wedding had all of the beauty and class without all the paparazzi and security hassles. The bride arrived to the ceremony in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage, styled from head to toe in the royal Kate dress and topped off with a tiara fit for a queen. The guests indulged in the beautiful five-tiered royal wedding-inspired cake and finished the evening throwing rose petals as the bride and groom departed for the night. Beautiful.

Over the years, so many special couples have given me the great privilege of sharing their wedding day with them. And though I have seen and been a part of many amazing weddings, I am sure the best are yet to come.

Leanne NaegerLeanne Naeger-Geiss is the sales director at Columbia Country Club. Although she is in charge of all things sales, her true love is wedding planning. She has 12 years of event-planning experience, and she is your go-to girl when he puts a ring on it. From Pinterest to wedding trends and classic bridal do’s and don’ts, Leanne has a wealth of knowledge to share.


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