By MANDY DETWILER | PHOTOS BY HOLEIGH V PHOTOGRAPHY
When Jacquelyn Koerber first met Alex McClure, it was love at first sight – for him. So much so that the then 23-year-old concluded the 30-year-old woman he’d just met was his perfect match, got down on one knee and proposed.
“I, of course, laughed him off and said, ‘You’re insane!’” says Koerber, who had just recently moved back to Kentuckiana from New York City, where she had been living for the past seven years. Koerber had been out with her cousin, and McClure ended up in their circle of friends when they first met in 2013.
“The more we talked, the more we realized we had in common,” Koerber says. “I lived in New York for seven years. He actually went to school in upstate New York. As the night progressed and the drinks flowed, I guess you could say, Alex came to the conclusion that I was his dream girl and actually got down on one knee and proposed to me.”
Says McClure: “I knew the first night that we met. … My first proposal was promptly rejected, but it’s something we still laugh about to this day.”
Koerber brushed it off that evening, and they didn’t meet again for another six months. “I went out with my cousin again and ran into him, and of course he was so embarrassed,” she says. “He was like ‘I never thought I’d see you again!’ and I was kind of OK with that because I was so embarrassed.’”
As Koerber spent more time with her cousin while making new friends in town, she became close with McClure, although nothing romantic blossomed between them.
“In the interim, I found out that my dad (Michael Koerber) got stage four cancer and was sick,” Koerber recalls. “Having found that out, I didn’t tell anyone. Not my best friends, not even other family members because I think to say it out loud meant it was real. But I found myself telling Alex about it – this random guy that I was semi good friends with – and I started confiding in him everything that was going on with my father, the deepest personal life stuff.
“Through that, our friendship continued to grow and I realized what an important person he’d become in my life. We just got really close, and we ended up going out on a date. He, of course, had asked me out many times between that moment and then, but I wasn’t ready to date.
“I had a friend tell me, ‘Here you have this guy that has been so good to you and been such a good friend to you. You’re an idiot if you don’t go out with him! It kind of woke me up, and and I was like, ‘yeah, you’re right.’”
Despite a seven-year age difference, McClure and Koerber dated seriously for two-and-a-half years. Koerber, whose name is synonymous with fine jewelry – her family owns and operates Koerber’s Fine Jewelry in New Albany – had heard “about a million proposal stories” but said she truly wasn’t prepared for the day McClure popped the question himself, for real this time.
The pair had been decorating their first joint Christmas tree in November 2015 with ornaments given to them by both families. Says Koerber: “I got distracted with something, and he pointed and said, ‘What’s this one here?’
“I turned around and said ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ I looked at it, and it said, ‘You for the rest of my life,’ and it had a ring tied to it. And then he got down on one knee, and I pretty much blacked out at that point. I don’t remember anything else!”
“The second proposal went a lot better,” McClure says. “I wanted to do something understated but meaningful, so I attached the ring to a special ornament as we were putting up our first full Christmas tree together. Unfortunately, Jacquelyn wasn’t wearing her glasses, so it took a bit of prompting to get her to notice it. When she finally spotted it, I dropped to one knee and proposed. From there we went to a surprise dinner with our parents at our favorite restaurant, Wiltshire on Market (in Louisville).”
Saying “yes” was an easy decision for Koerber.
“We were the best of friends,” she says. “We had gone through so much with each other. We’d just found out that my dad was sick when we started dating, so we went through the whole process of him fighting cancer (and) my parents moving to New York City to get the best treatment. I took over their business and ran it. There were so many changes. My father passed away in February 2015. To have someone be by your side during the darkest points of my life – relationships are easy when things are going great. He had been through my side during the hardest point, and never left my side. We just had such a strong connection.
“And I knew he was the one from the beginning. He comes from a wonderful family and I saw how he treats his mom. He comes from a similar background – his parents are both still married and they have a good marriage. My parents were so close and had a great marriage. There were no questions.”
And out of the darkness came light.
Wedding planning for their 300 guests took about 11 months. McClure and Koerber tied the knot on Oct. 8, 2016.
As someone in the wedding industry, Koerber tried to use as many local businesses as possible. “Since I’m a local business. That was important to me,” she says. “Any time I didn’t, like my photographer, it was just because I waited too long!”
Rather than a more traditional wedding venue, the couple chose to get married at the childhood farm of Koerber’s best friend, Chrissy Costello, in Starlight.
She designing the perfect event with the help of Nance’s Events, helmed by Brian Nance, who co-own’s Nance’s Florist with his father.
“My dad grew up right down the road, and also St. John’s Church is right down the road, and that’s where he’s buried,” Koerber says. “You could actually see the church where he’s buried from the location of the wedding. And Chrissy’s stepfather, Jerry Finn, he married us. He’s the same person who spoke at my father’s funeral. It was very much a family event.”
Koerber reserved a spot in the front row for her late father during the ceremony and reception, and she even had their invitations addressed from both of her parents, who were married for 39 years when her father passed. “The lady who did my invitations said, ‘I will be happy to do this, but I just wanted to let you know this is kind of a faux pas,’” Koerber recalls. “My father is just as much a part of this wedding as my mom is. … His name should be on the invitation.”
Rather than offering guests a traditional, tiered wedding cake, Koerber asked her aunts to bake their famous desserts. “Anytime you go to a Koerber family event – my dad was one of 12 kids, grew up on a farm and there’s now over 40 people – everybody brings their famous dish. I wanted my wedding to have that family feeling because it is a family event. … I had carrot cakes and apple pies and all kinds of different desserts, and I had labels made with who made it. …
“I’m not a (traditional) cake eater, anyway. I don’t even like cake. Why would I pay all this money for cake? I would much rather eat a piece of my aunt’s carrot cake or a fudge brownie. I got so many compliments for doing that because who doesn’t want a slice of homemade pie?”
Koerber and McClure also displayed wedding dresses from Koerber’s family, including those from her grandmothers and great-grandmothers. But her own mother’s dress wasn’t among them.
Instead, Koerber cut the gown short and wore it the night of her rehearsal dinner.
McClure’s favorite part of their wedding? “Being surrounded by all of the people we care about most as we celebrated our special day,” he says. “We both have family and friends from all over the country, so to be able to have them all in the same place at once was an incredible experience.”
After honeymooning in Hawaii, McClure and Koerber have settled into their new life quite happily. She still works for the family jewelry business, and McClure is an automotive engineer and plant manager at a prototype shop.
“Married life is really good,” Koerber says.
In fact, she adds, “We are expecting our first baby due Jan. 6. We found out that we’re having a boy. I’m continuing to honor my dad. We’re naming him William Michael” after McClure’s given name and Koerber’s dad.
“I’m really excited, with just a hint of nerves and anxiousness,” McClure admits. “We can’t wait to meet little Mikey.”