Story by Chelsea Asplund/The AS Review Photos by Daniel Berman/The AS Review
Amid the hustle and bustle of Zoe’s Bookside Bagelry, with students frantically studying and bagel orders being called out, senior Jessica Webb breaks a smile as she twirls the platinum and sapphire ring on her left ring finger.
“I didn’t really have a huge reaction to it because we had talked about it,” she said. “I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when.”
Webb, a geology major, has spent the past month not only studying for mineralogy exams and term projects, but also searching for a wedding dress, ordering rings and booking a venue. She is among a number of full-time students who are planning their weddings while attending Western.
Her and her fiancé Zane Leonard have been together for the past two years after meeting at a sledding party. Leonard worked as an engineer for Teck, a Canadian mining company just over the U.S.-Canadian border with Webb’s mother.
After just being on a couple dates, Leonard asked Webb if she’d accompany him on a road trip to Montana. Against the advice of friends, she went along with him.
“I was kind of on edge because I don’t really jump into relationships too fast. I have trust issues and whatnot. But when it really hits you, you can’t really help it,” Webb said.
The two went on an excursion for their spring break, traveling down to Yellowstone National Park and going snowboarding. The couple now plans to return to the state where they fell in love to get married, right on the edge of Glacier National Park.
Webb, who dreams of studying geology in mines, said she has never been overtly feminine, and even as she begins planning her wedding, her friends around her do not always see her excitement.
Webb said her wedding is slated for June, just before she goes off on a six-week field camp, the final element in her geology major where students camp, hike and study geology in Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Webb is set to graduate after summer quarter, and she then plans to apply for a work permit to join Leonard in Canada.
The assistance of her mother and her fiancé, who helps her in any way that he can through phone calls and e-mails, helps her handle the pressures of school and wedding planning, she said.
Earlier this month, senior Bridget Fossedal was walking with her boyfriend of five years through downtown Portland, when they decided to pop into Powell’s Bookstore.
As she walked down the aisles, she hardly noticed her boyfriend snapping photos of random books. On the drive home, her boyfriend coaxed her outside to show her the photos. He had cleverly taken photos of books with the words: will you marry me.
Fossedal said that even though they’ve only been engaged for two weeks, she has already ordered a dress and has a tentative guest list. She said the plan is a summer carnival wedding with sparklers and root beer floats served in mason jars all under a big white tent.
Her fiancé, Robbie, whom she has known since middle school, will be graduating with a degree in biology from Western and plans to begin pharmacy school in Colorado in August. Fossedal said she’ll move there with him to settle down.
“More than anything, I’m excited to marry my best friend,” she said. “I love event planning, photography, music, décor—but I anticipate being married will be even more of a rush.”
“The best way I’ve found to stay on track is to compartmentalize my time. I can allocate several straight hours to studying or work, and then reward myself with a little wedding planning,” she said.
After a long day on campus as a communications major, senior Ashley Jessica Hammond gets to step into a very different role: bridal consultant.
A fairy godmother of sorts, she has been working at Alicia’s Bridal Shoppe in downtown Bellingham for the past two years helping determined brides find ideal gowns for their big day.
Hammond said her favorite part of being a consultant is working with an array of people and finding satisfaction in helping make other women happy for such an important day.
She said the amount of student brides she has worked with has been a pleasant surprise.
“It’s different helping a student as opposed to another bride because I get to know more about them and their life,” she said. “Most of them are also better decision makers since the environment they are in at school helps them be that way.”
Hammond said that the moment she sees a future bride’s reaction after pulling out the perfect wedding gown is one of her favorite parts of her job.
“It feels so great to have a bride light up in a gown because she loves it,” she said. “It’s fun because I get to see how my time with them helped them with their wedding as a whole. It’s truly a rewarding experience.”