‘We want to go through life as a team’: The students getting engaged at uni
For most of us, the idea of getting married to someone, or engaged, or even Facebook official with someone while at uni, is more terrifying than being hit by a bus. But while we’re terrified of commitment (or enjoying our freedom, however you want to think of it) these guys are are taking the plunge and commiting to each other – and more frequently to the horror of other students. We spoke to the people getting engaged at uni to try to understand their world.
Briony & Jon
Briony, 20, and Jon, 31, met when Jon was doing building work at Briony’s house, and became close friends as both of them were in relationships at the time. As Briony is a student at Bristol, Jon moved across the country – giving up his business in the process – to move in with her.
Now the couple live together, but Briony says she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on part of university life by not having housemates.
“I was never a fan of student life anyway – to me going to uni is like a part time job, not a lifestyle.”
She said: “People are usually really surprised when they hear about my engagement, but when they think about it they realise although they wouldn’t want to be engaged or married, it’s perfect for me. In fact, the majority of my uni friends are mature students who are also married, so it’s not actually strange at all to me.”
Even Briony’s parents support her decision to take the plunge at such a young age. She said: “When Jon was proposing to me, his phone was constantly going off as my dad was desperate to know whether I’d said yes or not.” Her dad is even paying for the ceremony to help her save money.
Their marriage has nothing to do with religion – in fact they’re having a civil ceremony. Briony says instead the marriage is “because we want to be together, and this is the natural progression.”
The engagement happened in Edinburgh at the top of Arthur’s Seat. 20-year-old Briony said: “It was so lovely but I was so overwhelmed afterwards we had to sit at the top for and hour before my legs stopped shaking and I could walk down.”
Enterprising Jon even managed to convince a passer-by to snap a photo at the exact moment he asked Briony to be his wife.
Annabelle & Russell
It all began with a missing lighter for this couple, as Annabelle, 22, explains.
“He gave me a lift home and drove off with my lighter, so we met the next day for him to return it. I still don’t know if it was on purpose.”
Although Annabelle’s mum was delighted with the engagement, her dad was slightly more shocked, but has come round to the idea. Annabelle says other people can be negative about the couple’s decision. She explained: “People can be horrible, but I’m the kind of person who just won’t bother with that person if they’re like that – people are always saying they want to have fun while they’re young, but we have fun together.”
She added: “Things aren’t really any different now we’re engaged, we just have more commitment and we both know that neither of us are going to bail out – we’re in it for the long term.”
The couple, who aren’t religious, got engaged in Portugal, where Russell took Annabelle to the beach for an evening picnic. But they aren’t rushing to get married. Annabelle said: “We think it’ll be after graduation – I’m still studying full-time and we’re saving up.”
Christie & Charl
UCL student Christie, 20, said: “It came down to a simple question of why wait?”
The young couple met in 2008 when Charl moved to Essex for a year, and joined the same church as Christie. A few years later, Charl returned to Essex to study, staying with Christie and his family in the process, and the two became an official couple in April 2013.
The fact that they’re so young, and both students, shocks most people who hear about their impending marriage. Christie says: “We mostly get a surprised reaction but then excitement follows. My experience is that people love to know what kind of wedding you’re having and want every detail, it’s actually a great ice-breaker when meeting someone new.”
He adds both of their parents were “ecstatic” to hear of their engagement.
The UCL student admits married life as a student can be difficult when it comes to managing finances. Christie said: “Our parents have been very supportive on the financial side and have allowed us to have a wedding that we never even dreamed. It does make us more wary about maybe trying to have as much left over as possible for our savings though.”
Their engagement was low-key and planned by Christie.”We drove to Canterbury to have dinner in a great restaurant that we always planned to go to (keeping it low key) and had the best evening ever.”
For Charl and Christie, religion plays a big role in their decision to marry so young. “It’s something you see and know of a lot in church life, while our faith in God puts extra emphasis on the wedding ceremony as we make vows to one another not only in front of our friends and family but also to God.”
But despite the huge day looming, Christie says the engagement hasn’t put strain on their relationship. “We experienced more difficulties before we were engaged. Every couple has their little things.”
“For us, it makes more sense to go through life as a team. Money worries, career indecision, life direction would all be so much better to deal with together. We wanted to share our lives together and commit to one another, what better way to do that than get married?”