Chapel bells turn into wedding bells

Awkward conversations, first impressions, a flirtatious hug or a friendly hand shake.  It all begins somewhere.

It’s that magical moment where your heart rate increases, your palms begin sweating and all you can think about is spending late nights walking around the Quad gazing into each other’s eyes.

It is love at first sight, or second glance or even sixth stare when you realize that you have found “the one.”

Through the years, UMHB students have adopted a tradition, “ring by spring”.  Rumor has it that female students secretly hope to trade in their James Avery purity rings for a sparkly diamond rock by spring of their senior year.

Alumna Kennan Buckner poses on a bench in her wedding gown beside Burt Pond. She took her bridal portraits on campus. (Courtesy Photo, Jeff Burns)

For UMHB alumna Brittany Payne, this alleged tradition became a reality when her then boyfriend, Geoff Payne, proposed to her at the senior reception at the Parker House.  He had not planned on proposing on campus, but the timing was right, and, after all, they did meet at school.

He said, “Obviously if it hadn’t been for UMHB we would have never met, but at the same time proposing at UMHB was just kind of convenient .… We’re not that weird couple that’s going to name our kids Mary and Baylor, but we do love our alma mater.”

From first kiss behind Remschel, proposing with fireworks at a Homecoming pep rally, wearing a white gown and posing by Luther Memorial and saying vows in Manning chapel, over the years, students have chosen to include their university in one of the biggest events in their lives.

Couples and brides are known for taking engagement pictures or bridal portraits on campus.  Alumna Kennan (Neuman) Buckner wanted to include UMHB in her wedding even though she did not meet her husband at college.

“I can remember seeing brides getting their pictures taken in the Quad. Everyone admires a bride in her gown, especially college girls dreaming about their own big day,” Buckner said. “One of the memories from that day that will stay with me forever was when I was taking pictures on the porch of Walton Chapel… I looked back and there were at least a dozen faces smashed against the doors smiling.”

Even though there is no special tree to walk under with a lover or a midnight party to make out with a complete stranger, the university does offer a romantic gazebo overlooking Burt Pond, a luscious green patch of grass in the middle of campus and a variety of  activities to help with the next step in a relationship.

Alumni Audrey and Dennis Greeson recently tied the knot in the Manning Chapel in the Meyer Christian Studies building.  The couple met at UMHB and became engaged shortly after graduating.

Audrey said, “(We) decided to get married at UMHB because we have so many memories attached to our four years there .… It was the perfect location for us.”

With the idea of a personal and low budget wedding becoming more and more popular, why not consider the university as a place to be married?  For the Greesons, the price was not that different from other venues, and the wedding coordinator was present to make sure nothing went wrong on their special day.

Four years can either seem like an eternity or a blink of an eye to get to know a person, fall in love and decide to spend  your lives together.  For the Paynes, it was a journey of denial, rejection and eventually love.

“We pretty much hated each other for the better part of our first three years at UMHB,” Payne said. “But now we’re married. If we can work out our differences in time for a ring by spring, I’m pretty sure anyone could.”

Author: Lindsay Schaefer

Lindsay Schaefer is a junior Mass Communication, Public Relations major at UMHB. She is the Entertainment Page editor for The Bells Newspaper. Growing up in the small town of Nacogdoches, Texas taught her to enjoy the simple things in life such as local cuisine, an afternoon at grandma’s house, and getting to know her “neighbors”. If she’s not hunting for the latest pair of shoes, she can most likely be found eating chocolate cake with her closest friends. She enjoys making copies for the Bells newspaper and taking on many other random assignments!

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