Popping the question

When seniors Liz Edwards and Dan Fielden met four years ago in an Introduction to Logic class, they never thought their fate would be intertwined.

They were officially proven wrong two weeks ago, when Fielden popped the question in a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin.

For the smitten couple, marriage seemed the most logical thing to do since neither could envision being apart from the other. With or without rings, Edwards said, a life together was inevitable.

“We were already planning to move to California together, so getting engaged now just felt right,” Edwards said.

But, as Edwards pointed out, the decision to marry before leaving the confines of college – and to take on the associated responsibilities earlier than most – does not work for every couple.

“I know a lot of other people in serious relationships and it’s gotten them thinking about whether they should get engaged,” Edwards said, “but it really depends on your relationship and what you want.”

For senior Bekah Bickers, who will marry University of Texas alumnus Akim Insyxiengmay next August, the idea of spending the next stage of her life alongside her significant other did much to calm the anxiety she felt about moving beyond college.

“Before I got engaged, I was a bit nervous about graduating,” Bickers said. “Everything seemed a bit uncertain, but as soon as he proposed it was almost like a sense of peace, like ‘I can do this,’ ” Bickers said.

Cases like these largely go against the national pattern. The latest research from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the median age for marriage among American women is 25, just below that of men, for whom it is 27. And according to Child Trends Inc., a nonpartisan research group, only 26 percent of young singles say they are ready to take the proverbial leap to marriage.

But Bickers, who said she grew up around positive images of marriage like that of her parents, said she is comfortable straying from the average route.

The bond between mother and father was certainly a factor for junior Candace Klementowicz, who became engaged to Denison University graduate John David Thorpe in a car.

The two have decided to hold off on the big day until they are on sound financial footing, though. For now, Klementowicz’s main focus is enjoying college.

“I still go out, party, have a good time,” she said. “I just find it harder to go out because I go to school and work to save up for our life together.”

And once the wedding ends, the real world calls. Bethany Pepper, a 2009 graduate, met her husband-to-be while studying abroad in Seville, Spain. They met in January, got engaged in May and married in June. Three days after making it official in a city park in Seville, the two returned to Washington so Pepper could complete her education while entering what she described as “instant adulthood.”

Between interning in the mornings, attending classes in the afternoons and working at a restaurant up to six days a week, Pepper forfeited social events during her senior year and opted to become an early alumna of her sorority. She and her husband, a part-time lecturer in Spanish at GW, also shared an apartment with friends for a year to save on rent.

When it comes to future plans, for all the couples, building a career was the top priority. But that does not stop friends and family from inquiring about their next little surprises.

“Everyone asks me, ‘When are you having kids?’ Hello! I’m 22!” Pepper said.

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