For our final Retriever Love Week 2016 post, we’d like to share a story told to us by Jen Dress, UMBC’s Assistant Director of Student Life. Jen works closely with students throughout their college careers through organizations like (seb), and when these students become alumni, they will occasionally ask her to officiate their weddings. She’s married no less than five couples at this writing, and is preparing for a sixth next spring.
“I started creating wedded bliss a little bit by chance. I had a former student and student then turned staff member from some pretty different family and religious backgrounds who said, hey we got engaged, so can you marry us? And the internet said I could and it just sort of snowballed from there. Basically you can go online and submit your name to be able to file paperwork for folks and become an officiant. My first wedding was Ryan and Sameeha Bricklemyer [who were featured on the blog on Wednesday].
“I also officiated for Jay Lagorio ’08, computer science, and Cassie Lagorio ’09, political science and psychology; Beth and Simon Reilly; and Morgan Simonds ’12, psychology, and John Privot ’12, psychology and environmental studies. […] I officiated for former staff member Stephanie Hemling and her husband Steven Palinkas as well. Stephanie was such a fan of the soap opera Days of Our Lives, so we made sure to incorporate that into the ceremony script. In some ways writing the stories for the wedding script has been a fairly easy task because I spent so much time working with and growing with these people at UMBC. To be able to tell their stories in front of their families and friends really brings things full circle for me.
“The weddings are such a stumble down memory lane. I meet them when they are 18 and now they are headed down this path of marriage and family and all that goes with it. To see how their lives have unfolded and the UMBC friendships they have maintained […] speaks to the power of this place. They make friends here and sometimes meet their person here! I love my job because I get to be part of these major transitions for our students every single day. And at face value I work with the fun stuff, but it’s so much more than that. The stories and memories and moments and growth are so hard to even capture in words. For that connection to remain and to be with them, standing by them at such a critical point in their lives is humbling. I love doing it and feel so incredibly lucky to be asked.
“I have a million memories and there are a ton of alums at these events, but one of my favorite memories is from Jay and Cassie Lagorio. Jay worked with the Commons Operations staff and my team and was instrumental in supporting large scale concerts on campus. Concerts always have credentials, these lanyards that allow you access backstage, etc. Jay had credentials created for his wedding party was pretty funny. We all wore the lanyards to ‘work his wedding.'”