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Wedding bells ring for Miami students marrying young

By Laura Fitzgerald, The Miami Student

Thwarting a national trend, wedding bells ring for some Miami students as they get married or engaged in college.

The average age for a woman in the United States to marry is 27 and for men is about 29, according to a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. That's up from 2010, when the average age for women to marry was approximately 26 and 27.5 for men. In 2000, the figure was about 25 for women and 27 for men.

Melissa Petrick, who graduated from Miami in the spring, grew up with her now-fiancé, Travis, after they met at a summer camp and began dating at age 16. Travis is in the Army, and when he learned of his deployment, the two got engaged in November 2013, during Petrick's junior year.

"I couldn't imagine my life any other way," Petrick said.

Petrick and Travis plan to get married in October 2016.

Petrick said she wanted to make the commitment to Travis before he was deployed. He was in Afghanistan from February to September 2014.

Dating through his deployment was difficult, she said. The support of her family and friends made it easier.

The engagement didn't interfere with any of her plans, and she said she enjoys being able to build a life with someone else.

"Getting engaged this early is definitely not for everyone, but if it's for you, it pays off," Petrick said.

Sophomore Maddy Bulson said she personally wouldn't get married in college, but she understands if other people make the decision.

Young people delay marriage for financial reasons. Or, they may be more cautious as members of a generation who grew up with divorced parents, according to an article from ABC News.

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The Marcum Hotel and Conference Center in Oxford hosts about 12 to 13 weddings a semester and about two weddings per week during the summer, said Eric Yung, director of catering and special events on campus.

The most popular locations for weddings at Miami are Marcum, Shriver, Armstrong and Goggin. Other locations include the Formal Gardens and Kumler and Sesquicentennial Chapels.

Marcum hosted about seven Miami Merger weddings this summer, Yung said. Miami Mergers can be current students or graduates.

Sophomore Megan Bennett said she hopes to get engaged during her senior year and married after graduation. She has discussed the matter with her boyfriend, Luke Martin.

Bennet said she wants to get engaged in college because she wants to start a life with the person she loves after they graduate.

"I mean, why not? I don't see a problem with it," Bennett said. "Obviously, he's the person I want to marry, so I don't know why we wouldn't start our lives together as soon as possible."

Bennett has been dating Martin for two years. Martin is currently at training camp for the Marine Corps Reserve in Paris Island, South Carolina.

The only negative of getting married or engaged in college is the stigma couples face, Bennett said.

"Personally, I think the only setback is other people's opinions because people judge you if you get married too young," Bennett said. "But honestly, at this point I don't really care that much because people judge you no matter what."

Sophomore Louise Ebling said she thinks getting married in college would be distracting from schoolwork because of the time that goes into planning a wedding. However, she sees no problem with getting engaged.

Senior Maddi Renzi got engaged to her boyfriend Tyler Buckwalter last spring and plans to marry him in June. Tyler is a senior at Kent State University.

Renzi said planning for a wedding and schoolwork can be challenging, so they met with vendors and planned out a large portion of the wedding last summer. They will plan most of the wedding on breaks so they can focus on their schoolwork.

Renzi said she is taking two of her accounting CPA exams after she starts her job next September and gets settled with Tyler. Before the engagement, she had planned to take all of her exams soon after graduation.

While she is the first of her friends to get engaged, Renzi said hers and Tyler's friends have supported their decision.