Real Columbus Wedding: Natalie & Frank Monago
These high school sweethearts’ love story was 30 years in the making.
A version of this story first appeared in the fall/winter 2021 issue of Columbus Weddings, which published in June 2021. Due to an editing error, the print version mistakenly listed the bride’s maiden name as Robinson, not Tudas. That error has been corrected here.
Dec. 19, 2020 | As a child of the 1980s, Natalie (Tudas) Monago still finds herself listening to the music of the decade from time to time. Inevitably, her memories turn to her boyfriend from high school and college (and now her husband), Frank Monago.
“It does take me back to when I was hoping we would get married one day,” says Natalie, who, like her husband, is in her 50s. “Then I’m sitting in my car, kind of smiling, because it happened—it just happened 30 years later.”
The years in between could fill volumes. The Northeast Ohio natives met in high school, at a party in 1986. Neither remembers who hosted the party or what brought them to it, but they remember each other.
After graduation, the pair dated long distance before eventually splitting up and marrying other people—though they checked in on each other periodically.
In the mid-2010s, Natalie, living in Columbus, reached out to Frank’s sister to get in touch again. “As I lost my mother and my brother, it got to the point where [I realized] life is very short and everybody is in charge of their own happiness,” says Natalie, who rekindled her friendship with Frank via phone; they eventually met in-person for the first time in decades.
“We knew we had to get married,” Natalie says.
By then divorced from their spouses, the couple got engaged on Christmas Day 2019 and had plans to get married the following December in New York City. When the pandemic hit, they contemplated alternatives before deciding on a site closer to home.
They selected the Granville Inn, with a guest list that numbered just 12. “Nobody from a different household could be at the table [together],” Natalie says, referring to pandemic-related restrictions then in place.
Yet the evening had its own magic. A string duo played, and Frank’s sister baked the cake. Not able to dance inside the inn, the couple and photographer Robb McCormick headed outside. Frank had cued up Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s “So In Love,” a meaningful song from their first go as a couple, on his phone.
“It was dark and it was cold,” Natalie says. “We were under the lights out there, and it was just really for the two of us.”
The pandemic wasn’t going to stand in the way of the Monagos’ wedding plans. After all, for a couple to marry more than 30 years after meeting takes a certain kind of fortitude.
“We’re not in our 20s,” Frank says. “Once we got reconnected, it was like, ‘Why wait?’”
Ceremony, reception and caterer: Granville Inn
Officiant: Amy F. Aurore Weddings
Cake: Elizabeth Monago
Florist: Village Flower Basket
Music: Violinist Victoria Kapper, cellist Terri Wyman
Photographer: Robb McCormick Photography
Rehearsal dinner: Buxton Inn
Hotel for newlyweds and guests: Granville Inn
Sunday brunch: Aladdin’s Eatery
Bride’s attire: Nicole Miller gown from Saks Fifth Avenue
Groom’s attire: Burberry
Rings: Diamond Cellar