The bride is from Oklahoma, the bridegroom is from Western New York. But love bridged the geographic distance – and some rather unusual circumstances – for Monica Smith and Jacob Pietrzyk, who married April 19 in Tulsa.
The pair met in 2007 when Pietrzyk (pronounced Peter-zak) was dating his wife-to-be’s best friend, Lauren. He met Monica Smith while visiting Lauren, who once lived in Buffalo, in her hometown of Broken Arrow.
“It was an interesting dynamic,” said Jacob Pietrzyk.
When his relationship with Lauren ended shortly afterward, Pietrzyk had little reason to keep in touch with Smith. Yet between 2007 and 2012, they did have a few “long phone conversations,” Monica Pietrzyk said. “It was really sporadic,” said her husband.
But through their Facebook connection, they discovered in 2012 that they both planned to attend a Christian conference in Atlanta, so they made plans to meet there. Monica Pietrzyk said, “It was really awkward. I was nervous about meeting him because I knew there was potential there. But he was really sweet and decided to call me after that anyway.”
The two began talking more frequently and gradually became close, but were wary of trying to sustain a long-distance relationship. In 2013, Jacob visited on Monica’s birthday and asked her to be his girlfriend. After a brief engagement, they married in Tulsa.
And what about Lauren? Six months after that fateful meeting in Atlanta, Monica Smith clued her in. Not only did she give them her blessing, “she called it,” the bride said. “She said, ‘You and Jake are going to wind up getting married.’ ” Lauren was in the wedding party.
The two said their vows before Jay Henderson of LifeChurch.tv in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, in Tulsa, “a really cool venue in the heart of downtown Tulsa,” said Monica Pietrzyk. “It used to be Tulsa’s Grand Central Station and has a very vintage look, and it reminds me a lot of the Buffalo Central Terminal,” said Jacob Pietrzyk.
The bride is the daughter of Charlie and Kathy Smith of Broken Arrow. A graduate of Broken Arrow High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in family studies from Oklahoma State University. She works as a host team pastor at LifeChurch.tv, leading about 100 volunteers, including greeters, ushers and members of the hospitality team, for the church’s five services every Sunday.
Pietrzyk is the son of Richard and Kelly Pietrzyk of Depew and a graduate of Lancaster High School. While they lived in Oklahoma, he worked for Majestic Pools.
After a trip to Jamaica, the couple moved to Hendersonville, Tenn., where Monica Pietrzyk started work at the Hendersonville campus of LifeChurch.tv.
The pair will return to Western New York in July, when Pietrzyk’s parents plan a reception “for all our Buffalo friends and family,” said Jacob Pietrzyk.
– Anne Neville