For some student couples, the Ring by Spring phenomenon extends beyond just the engagement ring. Though many engaged students wait until after graduation to take their wedding vows, couples across campus are making the decision to step into wedded bliss during their college careers.
Denise and Garret Price
Senior youth and education ministries major Denise Price and senior youth and sports ministries major Garret Price met at their freshman orientation and started dating a few months later. Denise and Garret married in August 2012.
“We went back and forth on whether we should wait until we graduate to get married or if we should get married and be students for our senior year,” Garret said.
Garret said he sought out advice from mentors and close friends. He said these people suggested thinking about questions such as “are you ready to marry her?” and “is there anything holding you back?”
“One of my mentors asked me, ‘Would you rather have someone at Malone be your roommate or would you rather have Denise be your roommate for your senior year?’” Garret said. “And, of course, I wanted her to be my roommate.”
Garret noted differences in how he and Denise now spend their time.
“Before, I was used to hanging out with people in PGB all the time, randomly going to other peoples’ rooms, and going to Taco Bell at three in the morning,” Garret said. “Being married has changed a lot of the social atmosphere that I’m involved in now.”
Garrett also said finding the time to spend together is much simpler than when they were dating.
Denise said from a practical standpoint there are also benefits.
“It’s really nice because we take a lot of the same classes,” Denise said. “We’re able to share the same books and we get to work together a lot more now.”
After their wedding, the couple moved to Bedford and now commute an hour to campus.
“We get that whole hour to just talk, to share funny stories or whatever and it’s really nice to have that time,” Denise said. “Surprisingly, that hour drive is actually nice, I didn’t anticipate enjoying it at all.”
Allana and Luke Williams
Senior early childhood education major Allana Williams and junior intervention specialist major Luke Williams began dating in high school and were married June 2012.
“Luke and I met when I was three and he was four,” Allana said. “We grew up in church together and our parents were friends growing up.”
Allana said she and Luke had conversations about whether or not to postpone their wedding until after graduation.
“We decided that we didn’t want to date for six years,” Allana said. “We might as well get through those last two years of school together and start our lives together sooner.”
“Being married at this point in our lives, we’ll have so many memories that a lot of people may not experience,” Allana said. “We’re going to go through the hard times now, but at the same time, it’s a blast being married.”
As local commuters, Allana and Luke have also found it hard to remain a part of the campus community.
“Living off campus has been a big challenge for us, just being separated from it and trying to figure out how we still fit in,” Allana said.
Luke said living off-campus together is also challenging financially.
“One thing that kept coming up [in our discussion about marriage] was that we didn’t have money,” Luke said. “But we didn’t think that was a good enough reason to not get married.”
“When you’re in the dorm, you can say that you don’t want to spend money, and so you don’t go out to eat,” Luke said. “When you have bills to pay, you can’t just decide to not spend money.”
Allana and Luke said the love and support of family members has been crucial for their first year of marriage.
“It’s a whole different world than you expect, but it’s not more than we can handle,” Luke said.
Director of Spiritual Formation Linda Leon works on campus with her husband, Spiritual Formation Volunteer Jeff Leon, and has special perspective on the topic.
To students considering marriage, Linda Leon suggests that couples think about what marriage means on a deeper level.
“Marriage isn’t there to make us happy,” Leon said. “God refines us through marriage, He uses it to make us more holy.”
Leon recommends considering how daily life would be re-oriented as a married college student.
“I think that, as long as students are having a lot of processes they are going through in which they are thoughtful and in which they allow people to speak into their lives about potentially being married as students, then go ahead,” Leon said. “I think that God helps us discern these things while in community.”