Wedding Bells Ringing Early

Gia Mazur, Reporter

Kaitlyn Faccipionti went on a trip to New York City with her boyfriend Mike Simon during spring break of her sophomore year of college. During their visit to the Big Apple, her boyfriend wanted to take her on one of the famous horse and carriage rides through the city’s lush Central Park, the carriage rides you see on TV and in movies where the couple takes a romantic tour of the park in a white carriage with red velvet interior, drawn by a white and brown spotted horse. However, Kaitlyn refused, saying the ride was “such a waste of money.” Frustrated, Mike took her for a walk around the park and the two stopped at a secluded area. There bended knee, Simon produced a ring that the two had ogled during a vacation in Lancaster the year before. Kaitlyn said this moment was perfect – it was everything she had been dreaming about since she had started seeing him.

Or at least since the moment she bought her wedding dress, two months earlier.

“I started planning [the wedding] before we were engaged. I actually bought the dress before we were actually engaged,” the recently wed Mrs. Simon said.

Simon had begun planning her nuptials at age 20 and was married before she turned 22. She is a part of a small group of young women planning their weddings before they can legally sip champagne.

According to Dr. Bella DePaulo, a psychology professor at University of California, Santa Barbara and an expert on singles and marriage, young women who marry in their early 20’s are no longer the norm like they used to be. For a woman, the median age for a first marriage was 25.9 years old in 2009. The age of first marriage has steadily risen since 1950, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Still, 27.9 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 were married in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Simon said she was “wedding obsessed” to begin with, and she spoke about her Netflix account filled to the brim with bridal shows like “My Fair Wedding.” She had been eying up the dress – a floor-length stunner with white tulle overlay and lace cap sleeves, little iridescent beading in artful clusters in the shape of tiny flowers, and white buttons trailing all the way down the back – since she was 17 and shopping for prom dresses.

Dr. Depaulo refers to the boom of reality shows about weddings and wedding planners as “matrimania” – the over-the-top hyping of marriage and coupling and weddings.

“It is fine to value marrying if that’s what you choose to do, and it is also fine to be excited about your wedding, but those attitudes can be taken too far if they crowd out our valuing of other important people and pursuits in our lives,” said Dr. DePaulo.

Chelsea Mixon, 22, said she never planned to get engaged while still in college, but her fiancé decided it was best to pop the question during April of her senior year so they could share their engagement with the most important people in their lives – friends and family.

Mixon met her fiancé Greg Vossler while on the swim team at MU and the two dated throughout college. This past Easter, while spending the holiday with Mixon’s family, Vossler asked Mixon’s father for permission to marry her. During her family’s traditional Easter egg hunt, Vossler got down on one knee and pulled out a little white box with a diamond ring inside.

Mixon and Vossler are enrolled in pre-Cana classes, which are required pre-martial classes couples must enroll in before receiving the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic Church. Mixon feels the classes give her an opportunity to take a closer look at her relationship, and they can teach valuable things about married life.

In an article about pre-marital education classes, The Washington Post reported that these types of classes could be beneficial to newlyweds to help them to know what to expect from marriage and how to increase the chances that theirs will last.

The Washington Post also reported a study of married Army couples that took these pre-marriage classes that found that 2.03 percent were divorced after one year compared to the 6.2 percent who did not take classes and divorced in the same period.

Mixon uses words like “gentleman,” and “best friend” to describe Vossler. She said she knows he is the person she wants to spend the rest of her life with.

“It just completely feels so right. Some people have made comments about us being young, but they don’t understand how completely head over heels we are for one another,” she said.

Some young women strongly feel they are mature enough to be married. Simon said that she always felt like an adult. She said she was “born 30” and growing up in a lake community consisting of mostly summer homes, Simon never had many children to play with. She had moved out of her parent’s home at  18 and she, and her husband, were both financially independent before they were married.  She said her parents were supportive, coming from “old world Italy,” and her father would have been happy to see her “get married out of high school and have a bunch of babies.”

Women sometimes will get married young due to because their boyfriends or fiancés are entering the armed forces. Laura Lohmann Belles, 20, married her husband Todd Belles month ago, just before his deployment with the Army. Belles said she “would have been okay with going to the courthouse” to get married, but she and her husband opted for a small ceremony in her front yard on a lake in Sweet Valley, PA. She wore a short white dress from David’s Bridal and the groom wore a suit he had purchased for job interviews. Belles said she decided to get married, while enrolled full-time at Bloomsburg University, so she could make decisions if anything were to happen to Todd while he was in the line of duty. Belles said this is the reason why Todd says he married her.

“He said, ‘No one has ever taken care of me they way you do.’ It made me feel good because this is how it should be,” she said. “I think you should always be there for that person and you should equally take care of each other.”

While Todd is away, Belles takes care of the bills, searches for an apartment, furnishes said apartment and plans their “big wedding” for their entire family when he comes home next year. Belles said she has always been independent – she is an only child and her father passed away when she was five-years-old.

“I’m just used to the whole ‘being alone all the time.’ So, it doesn’t really bother me,” she said. “But when he comes back, it’s my rules.”

Jill Ballman, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at The Marriage Resource Center in Scranton, believes that it’s good for a husband or wife to feel like their partner takes care of them, but compares such a relationship to friendship – a two-way street.

“Problems arise when one takes on the “parent role” and the other takes on the “dependent child” role,” said Ballman. “This is not an equal partnership of two people both taking care of each other.”

And that 50/50 give-and-take takes time for everyone, regardless of age, to master.

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