Midterm marriages difficult but possible

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BYU is a college campus like few others. Twenty-three percent of undergraduates were married in 2014. Most engaged students tie the knot during the summer or over Christmas break, but there are some who choose to get married partway through Fall or Winter semester.

Many married students have to balance school, apartment hunting and wedding planning, often while working. It’s a lot on any couple’s plate, but one couple said it is doable.

James and Brooke Nixon got married on Nov. 21, 2015. James is an information systems major at BYU, and Brooke is an English major at UVU.
James and Brooke Nixon got married on Nov. 21, 2015. James is an information systems major at BYU, and Brooke is an English major at UVU. (Heather Telford)

James and Brooke Nixon met in September 2014 and got engaged in June 2015. They set Nov. 21, 2015, as their wedding date, even though they knew Fall semester would be the most difficult semester of James’s education.

James, an information systems major at BYU, said he was starting his junior core at the time.

“I knew it was going to be the toughest semester I’d ever had because that’s what they tell you to expect,” James said.

Brooke said the couple didn’t want a wedding date close to Christmas, so they decided to get married the weekend before Thanksgiving. She and James had the entire week of Thanksgiving off of school which allowed them to take their honeymoon at that time.

“That week was so nice to not have any responsibilities or obligations after having so many,” Brooke said.

Brooke and James both said it is possible to pull off a wedding during the semester, even if it is stressful. They said lists and calendars were helpful resources as they planned their big day.

“It minimizes stress when you have a plan, when you have a list of things you need to get done,” James said. “If you plan, you won’t stress each other out.”

James also said couples should set their expectations correctly if they choose to get married partway through the semester.

“It’s not impossible, but set your expectations to expect the worst,” James said. “If you think it’s going to be easy, then it’s going to overwhelm you.”

Brooke said it’s important to keep the right perspective throughout the wedding planning process.

“Planning a wedding is stressful enough as it is,” Brooke said. “Don’t make it more stressful by exaggerating the little details. Remember why you’re getting married.”

Heather Telford
The Nixons planned their wedding while working, attending school and looking for housing. They said it was difficult but possible. (Heather Telford)

Brooke and James were worried about finding somewhere to live like many other engaged students. Both single and married students often struggle to find housing while attending BYU, but this tends to be a major challenge for mid-semester brides and grooms.

Garry Briggs, general manager of off-campus housing for BYU, said planning ahead is the key to finding married housing.

“Begin the search early to find a place,” Briggs said. “If you know you’re getting married in the middle of the semester, start looking and see if you can find a place before the school year starts. Try to make some plans that you can work with when school begins.”

Briggs said engaged couples can apply for a waiver that allows one of the fiancés to live alone in married housing before the wedding.

“Sometimes one of the parties, the man or the woman, will live in the facility that they’re going to move into after they’re married, and we’ll grant a waiver for that,” Briggs said. “We’d rather have them do that than get tied up with a contract.”

The Utah County Attorney’s Office reported hundreds of couples apply for marriage licenses during each month of the year. While not all of those couples are current BYU students, the basic trend is clear: the summer months are the most popular time for weddings in Utah County. The office also grants hundreds of licenses in December, many of which presumably go to BYU students getting married over Christmas break.

There are hundreds of licenses granted during BYU’s Fall semester. The office gave an average of 391 licenses in the month of September from 2005 to 2015, 325 licenses in October for the same time range and 318 licenses in November from 2005 to 2014.

The averages take a dip during Winter semester. The office granted an average of 236 licenses in January, 266 licenses in February and 313 licenses in March. The averages for these three months represent data from 2005 to 2015.

There is no off-season when it comes to BYU students getting married. Engaged students get married at the time of year that works best for them, through rain, snow or midterms.

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