The average female in the United States marries at age 25 and the average male at age 27. The average Linfield student graduates at age 22. The idea of marriage is a foreign concept to most students, the majority of whom don’t even get engaged until after graduation.
There are the select few, however, who defy the norm and head toward the world of matrimony while still in school. Seniors Erick Loden, Ben Edmonds and Alessa Karlin are blissfully married or engaged and looking forward to the next step with their partners by their sides.
Erick and Alicia
Loden proposed to Alicia Zook, a sophomore at Chemeketa Community College, on Labor Day of this year.
“We’d been talking about getting married for a few months, so I wanted to do something really special for the engagement,” Loden said.
He said that Zook loves fireworks, so he surprised her with a trip to Reno, Nev., to watch the Labor Day fireworks over Lake Tahoe.
“I proposed as the finale was going off behind me,” Loden said. “She, of course, said yes.”
The couple has been dating since March of 2010 and has set a wedding date for June of 2011.
Ben and Heidi
Ben Edmonds is the most recent addition to the list of engaged students; he proposed to alumna Heidi Vanden Bos, class of ’10, Sept. 25 with a surprise proposal in a helicopter.
“I’d always wanted to go on a helicopter ride,” Edmonds said. “I’d asked Heidi in the past if she’d go with me, and she said ‘I’ll go if you go.’ I figured there was no better time.”
Edmonds said that he and Vanden Bos were going out to dinner to celebrate his birthday. Instead, he drove to the airport.
“I told her that I didn’t remember exactly where the restaurant was, but I thought it was near there,” Edmonds said. “We went to the helicopter and met the pilot. At that point, she knew something was up.”
Edmonds said that the helicopter ride took them over Glacier Rock, where he and his roommate had, earlier that day, laid out black tablecloths painted with the words “Will you?”
“I just finished the sentence,” Edmonds said.
He said that when they got back to campus, word of their engagement had already spread.
“It was a little embarrassing but cool, too,” he said.
Edmonds and Vanden Bos met in 2007 during Campus Crusade for Christ, a campus-based religious organization.
“I was particularly trying to remember girls’ names,” Edmonds said. “I told her I wouldn’t forget her name, and I didn’t.”
They two plan to get married in the summer of 2011.
Alessa and Ben
Alessa Karlin has gone one step further than the other students: She and her fiancé, alunmus Ben Karlin, class of ’08, were married July 24.
“It was the hottest day of the year,” she said. “But the wedding went well anyway. There’s nothing about it I would change.”
The Karlins met during a theater production in 2007.
“Rehearsals finished late, and I lived on the other side of campus,” she said. “I didn’t know [Ben] well, but he volunteered to walk me home.”
They dated for five months before the proposal, Karlin said.
“We had been arguing about whether or not we wanted to be together,” she said. “A week later, he just said, ‘So, you want to get married?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’”
She said that both of them knew within two months that they were perfect for each other.
“I met his family, and his grandpa told his mom later that he knew we were going to get married,” she said.
All three couples have seen changes in their lives since their engagements began.
“I have less time now, even less than when we were just dating,” Loden said.
He said that between his classes, his job and volunteering, it is difficult to find time to plan a wedding.
“I have been balancing it all well, but it is definitely a strain,” he said. “I know Alicia wishes I had more time to spend with her.”
In the early months of her relationship, Karlin had the opposite problem.
“At first, I was all about Ben [Karlin],” she said. “I didn’t have a life outside him, and we were together too much.”
As their relationship has progressed, Karlin has learned her
“It is good for us to spend time with our friends and away from each other,” she said. “It makes our time together more special.”
Stress of real life
Balancing wedding plans or married life along with the normal stress of school and work isn’t easy, but these future brides and grooms don’t regret it.
“It is less of a question of where you are in school but rather [of] where you are in life,” Loden said.
He said that a serious relationship will always make life more complicated.
“Unless you have life under control and are very solid in what you are doing, it will be difficult to pursue a quality relationship,” he said.
All of them stressed the importance of communication and having fun with their partners and with others.
“Make friends you don’t share,” Karlin advised. “Spend some time apart and some time together.”
Edmonds said that he and Vanden Bos would plan group events with mutual friends, such as game nights or dinners.
“If you want to get to know someone, you should,” he said. “But don’t just seclude yourself with that one person.”
Although Linfield students tend to shy away from diamond rings until after graduation, these three couples are successfully balancing their relationships and their schoolwork and are preparing to take the next step in the walk of life.
by Rachel Mills/Freelancer
Rachel Mills can be reached at email@example.com.