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Wedding bells ring for students in springtime

John-Paul Witt | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

If not through personal experience, most Notre Dame students are familiar with the tradition that finds seniors engaged by the end of spring semester – “ring by spring.” And while Grotto proposals and Basilica weddings are common among seniors and alumni who met at Notre Dame, some students are choosing to set a wedding date as early as sophomore year.

One such couple, sophomores Dan Amiri and Rachel Miller, has already decided to get engaged. The two met in high school and began dating during their senior year after both decided to attend Notre Dame.

Miller credits Notre Dame with helping the couple mature enough to the point where marriage seems like the next logical step in the relationship.

“We had a good community of people around us – we were able to build friendships and face challenges together,” Miller said.

Amiri also credited Notre Dame’s spiritual atmosphere with allowing the couple to pursue a deeper relationship.

“In general, [Notre Dame] has been a big part of our spiritual growth – the Basilica, Mass and praying together,” Amiri said, “It’s a perfect place for us to focus on the spiritual aspect of the relationship, something that often gets left out.”

The sophomores plan to graduate a semester early so they can be married in the Basilica during what would have been their senior spring semester. They decided to wait so they could be “financially independent” of their parents, who supported the couple’s idea to get married, Miller said. And, Miller said, their parents have continued to support them even after MTV unveiled a show documenting the troubles faced by engaged couples under 22 years old.

“Our families were surprised but they know that we know what we’re doing,” Miller said, “The show ‘Engaged and Underage’ came out a week after we were engaged, but that’s the opposite of what we are – we have an obvious calling to each other.”

Amiri and Miller plan to be married in the Basilica, one of three venues available for weddings at Notre Dame, according to Basilica Wedding Coordinator Amy Huber.

“Campus weddings may only be performed in the Basilica, the Lady Chapel [inside the Basilica], and the Log Chapel,” Huber said.

Students, alumni, and staff – people with an “association with Notre Dame”- are the only ones allowed to get married in the Basilica, Huber said. While she fields many calls from seniors and graduate students, most weddings in the Basilica involve alumni.

“I think the reason why most alumni choose to get married here is because Notre Dame is close to their heart and a lot of times this is where they have made that connection with that special someone,” Huber said.

Interested couples are also advised to book early, Huber said. She schedules weddings a year or more in advance – while 2008 has “a few dates open,” 2007 is “totally booked.”

Undergraduate students who choose to marry cannot remain in their residence halls, according to Molly O’Neill, rector of University Village, which provides housing for married students. Students that are engaged but not married are allowed to remain in their dorms.

“Undergraduate residence halls are intended for single students,” O’Neill said. “Students who get married are therefore invited to move to University Village, to live among a wide variety of student families.”

Married students who decide to live in University Village are subject to similar conditions and rules as residence halls, but also benefit from events catering to married students, O’Neill said.

“We also follow many of the same rules that undergraduate dorms follow – except parietals, of course,” O’Neill said.