08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT
ON A 76-CITY NATIONAL TOUR FOR the past 14 weeks, champion figure skaters Todd Sand, 31, and Jenni Meno, 24, whirled across the ice nightly to the tune of "Goin' to the Chapel." The couple—considered a good bet to win a medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan—performed just as elegantly without blades during their July 22 wedding at St. Christopher's Catholic church outside Cleveland. The bride, who grew up in nearby Westlake, Ohio, wore a white Vera Wang dress with a crystalbeaded tulle skirt and 15-foot veil.
When they met in 1990, Meno was paired professionally with skater Scott Wendland. And Sand, Wendland's roommate, skated with Natasha Kuchiki. Then Sand was dispatched to meet Meno at the airport the day she arrived in L.A. to begin training with Wendland. "Her red hair just caught my eye," Sand recalls.
During the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, they found they were spending a lot of their free time together, "and we realized we had feelings for each other," says Meno. Returning home, they became partners professionally and then romantically. Their erstwhile co-skaters were stunned. "For at least a year there was tension and bruised emotions," says Meno's mother, Janice. "But those are healed now." And love clearly added wings to the couple's skates. They won the gold medal at the National Figure Skating Championships two years in a row, 1994 and 1995, and a bronze in February at the world championships in Birmingham, England.
Sand proposed on Feb. 13, 1994, just hours before the couple were to take the ice at the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. "I didn't plan it," says Sand, who grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif. "I decided, 'This is the girl I want to spend my life with.' "
Because of Meno's skating commitments, her mother handled many of the wedding details while Jenni phoned or faxed three times a day from the road. The reception at the Westlake Holiday Inn featured an ice sculpture of a skate and a four-tiered wedding cake for the 273 guests. After a 10-day Hawaiian honeymoon, the couple will live in a house they just bought in Orange County, Calif., near their training site. "We'll always be in love," says Todd, "and we'll always be skating."
LEANZA CORNETT WASN'T WEARING a tiara. Instead her short chiffon veil fluttered in the breeze as she stood, barefoot, under a trellis on the beach at Hanalei Bay on Kauai in Hawaii. But on the morning of July 22, when the 24-year-old reporter for Entertainment Tonight wed Mark Steines, 31, a TV sports reporter turned aspiring actor, she felt much as she had when she was crowned Miss America in September 1992: overwhelmed. "When I was in my mom's womb," she says, "one of her prayers was that God would bring a man into my life who cherished me and that I could love with my whole heart. Mark is everything she prayed for." Adds the groom: "You just go, 'Wow!' "
Both of them said something along those lines when they met in January 1993 at a charity telethon at Universal Studios. She thought he was "funny and charming," a dead ringer for Tom Cruise
. He thought she was nothing like his image of a demure Miss America. "I grabbed her and said, 'Let's go on all the rides,' " Steines recalls, "and she was right there and ready to go." For the next six months, Cornett says, "I chased him," phoning him whenever she had a few free minutes in her frenetic schedule. Finally, in late May, they had their first date—dinner at L.A.'s Cheesecake Factory. "I knew she was mine," Steines says with a laugh, "when I picked up my spoon like it was a microphone and interviewed her and she went right along with it."
When her Miss America reign ended in 1993, Cornett landed her spot with ET and moved into a Santa Monica apartment six blocks from Steines. On July 12,1994, when Cornett took the stage at an AIDS benefit in Hollywood to pull the winning raffle ticket out of a bag, she found herself pulling out a scroll that read, "Let's get married. Wanna?...Check the appropriate response: Yes or Yes?" Attached was a tiny velvet bag with an engagement ring inside. When Cornett looked up, she saw the entire audience of 250 people holding signs that read, "Say yes."
She did, and several months later she and Steines were vacationing in Kauai when they came across the Princeville Hotel, "fell in love with the beauty of the place," Cornett says, and decided to hold their wedding there. Cashing in 305,000 frequent-flier miles she had earned during her tour as Miss America, Cornett sent free first-class airline tickets to many of their 23 guests—his family in Dubuque, Iowa, and hers in Orlando. "It was better than I ever dreamed," says Cornett. "The setting was beautiful, the musicians were great, but we could have been in a parking garage, and as long as our hearts connected it would have been wonderful."
LEAH FELDON-MITCHELL in Hanalei Bay