Dress fittings, flowers, invitations and guest lists are among the many details involved in planning weddings today. Cobbers have been marrying Cobbers for many years, but each journey to saying “I do” is unique. Some couples wait to marry until after graduation, some marry during the summer and some marry over Christmas break.

Paul Lillehaugen and Kate Hendrickson, seniors, met at cross-country training camp sophomore year and have been dating for two years. To celebrate their two-year anniversary, Lillehaugen took Hendrickson to Trollwood Park. After a lunch of sandwiches on heart-shaped dishes and sparkling cider, he proposed.

They are planning their August 2011 wedding despite this being their busiest years in school, Hendrickson said.

“It’s so hard [to do anything else],” Hendrickson said, “because you’re excited for it.”
People are often surprised that they are not taking a year to plan, she said, and they are busy with planning the wedding, classes and cross-country.

“We don’t really have social lives,” Lillehaugen said followed by laughs from the couple.

Before proposing, Lillehaugen asked Hendrickson’s father for permission to marry her, which is very important to her. Having her father’s permission and blessing on the relationship is comforting, Hendrickson said, because she has always valued her parents’ input. Sometimes her father would question why she dates at all, implying she should be independent, she said.

“My dad… is kind of rough around the edges,” she said. “It was really neat that Paul went, and they just had a talk about things.”

Wes and Carole Mathre, class of 1963, met when Wes was studying with Carole’s brother, but they were initially unimpressed with each other and didn’t date for over a year.

“It was not love at first sight,” Carole said.

Sophomore year, Wes asked Carole to the homecoming program—not a dance. That Friday was Carole’s birthday, and she decided to go out for pizza with her roommates instead of going on her date with Wes. She got back from dinner an hour late, and he was waiting for her with a corsage, she said.

“It wasn’t exactly a successful first date,” Carole said as she and Wes laughed. “I don’t think we tried it again until spring of that year.”

After their second date in the spring, they ended up writing letters over the summer, and they went on dates more steadily during their junior year. Wes was heavily involved in photography with the yearbook and The Concordian.

“She started hanging around the Cobber [yearbook] office when I was editor,” Wes said. Carole eventually got a job working with him and helped develop his film in the dark room.

They announced their engagement the spring of their junior years and were hoping to be married after graduation, but Carole’s mother was a teacher and preferred a different time. Carole’s organ instructor was going to play at their fall wedding the following year and commented that there was such beautiful organ music for Christmas weddings. So in November they pushed up the wedding to Dec. 21. They had six weeks to plan the wedding while being full-time students preparing for finals.

“It actually worked out quite well,” Wes said. “It’s not the best time to be wed, especially as a pastor… because I would be in the middle of Christmas stuff when we [had] an anniversary to celebrate.”

“But it’s a pretty time to be married,” Carole said in response.

The Mathres are retired, live in Moorhead and will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012.

Cobber senior Courtney Newton grew up hearing that the Concordia boys are the ones to marry, as her grandparents are both Cobbers.

“I guess I took their advice and found one,” Newton said.

Unlike Lillehaugen and Hendrickson, Newton and fiancé Mark Runyan, also a senior, are waiting to hear about his dental school applications before deciding on a fall 2011 or 2012 wedding date, Newton said. They plan to marry at the church by her cabin in Park Rapids, and the church is willing to change the date to fit their plans.

“More of the nitty-gritty ceremony stuff [we haven’t planned] as much, but the broad picture we have done a little bit,” she said.

Seniors Sara Holmgren and Ross Dankers plan to wait even longer, until the summer of 2012, to get married. The main reason is that it is difficult to plan a wedding in Kalispell, Mont., Holmgren’s hometown, from such a distance, Holmgren said.

After meeting the spring of their freshman year, they talked almost every day on the phone or via text messaging, Holmgren said. Given the distance between Cambridge, Minn. and Kalispell, Mont., they were friends before they could start dating. Once they returned to campus sophomore year, they began dating.

Another reason it is difficult to plan a wedding in Kalispell is that it is a tourist destination, Holmgren said. People will book several outdoor locations to make sure they have what they want and then drop them once they decide, she said. They are considering a finished barn for the reception of an outdoor wedding.

Some Cobbers are content to be in a long-term relationship and do not want to be engaged until after graduation. Michelle Cotton, a junior, has been with Paul Koob, a junior at North Dakota State University, for four years, but doesn’t feel a need to be engaged. In fact, she prefers to wait for engagement until after graduation, because neither of them is in a rush, she said.

“We know it’s going to happen,” she said. “If I was engaged, it doesn’t matter if it was two years away or not… I’d be planning my wedding… and I don’t have time [for that].”

Weddings do not have to be expensive, stressful, time-eating events to plan. Senior Micaela Barber pulled off planning a June wedding within six months during her junior year at Concordia.

Husband Casey and Micaela met in high school. He came to Minnesota State University-Moorhead to study creative writing, and she came to Concordia two years later to study music, she said. Micaela did not think a wedding while she was still in school was possible, even though Casey graduated in the spring of 2009.

“I just felt like it couldn’t happen, because I was a junior in college,” she said. “People think [getting married in college] is just so dumb… it’s supposed to be a bad idea.”

With help from Micaela’s excited mother, venue and catering details in Sioux Falls, S.D., were ironed out. Micaela was not stressed about it, because she knew it was supposed to happen.

A wedding convention was snowed out, the space was smaller than they originally wanted, and the wedding flowers that arrived were not what Micaela ordered, but everything fell into place because God wanted it to be that way, she said.

“I wanted [the wedding] to be a time where my family could get together and just hang out, celebrate love, and celebrate God,” she said. “I wanted it to be beautiful for everyone else too… It was perfect.”

The outdoor wedding was simpler than many, but Micaela’s touches, like hand-made party favors, made it personal. It took a lot of time, but that time really didn’t matter, she said. The focus of the wedding was love—between Casey and Micaela, among families, and in relationship with God, she said.

During the engagement, Micaela and Casey focused on the most important part of the wedding, their relationship.

“[The details] were secondary to my relationship with my future husband,” she said.

Throughout the entire planning process, Micaela felt God opening up doors, she said.
Fellow music majors from Concordia performed in the wedding, other friends did videography, and family members participated as the DJ and pastor. The pastor wasn’t ordained, however, so one of Micaela’s cousins who had been ordained online for another friend’s wedding legally married Micaela and Casey.

“It was so great,” she said.

Her college life has drastically changed this year because of the marriage, she said. They live in Fargo, and while Micaela says it is a blessing, she misses campus life at times, she said.

“I want both, but I can’t have both,” she said. “But I love him, and I love being married. It’s wonderful. I wish everyone could be married, because it’s so great.”

Carrie Johansen

I am a senior majoring in political science and journalism, and I am minoring in music. Next year, I will study law at the University of St. Thomas, and I can't believe my time at Concordia has gone so quickly.

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