by: Belle Hankey
Ring by spring. The act of couples in their senior year of college are getting engaged, before graduation: trading in their diploma for a marriage license.
“I always wanted to meet my future husband during college and get married shortly after,” said Kitty Priver, a senior at Ole Miss from Southaven, Mississippi.
Priver got engaged Oct. 16, 2016 during her last year at Ole Miss and is getting married on Sept. 9, 2017. Kitty and her fiancé had been dating for two and a half years before he popped the question.
“I think that they want all of their friends to be there to celebrate them,” said Meredith Parker, an Ole Miss senior. “Because once we graduate and leave, not all of your friends are consolidated to one place.”
School work and Wedding Planning
Taylor-Alice McWilliams got engaged in the Grove in April, 2016. She graduated from Ole Miss in May, and the wedding was January 7, 2017 at Paris Yates Chapel on campus. The couple had the summer and fall to plan their wedding.
“I wouldn’t change being married right out of college for anything. I wasn’t in school so that made it all much easier,” said McWilliams. “We planned to get married in Oxford, which is 3 hours from both of our home towns. Not being in school allowed me to travel whenever
it was needed to make wedding arrangements.”
Taylor-Alice met her now husband for the first time, when he was working as a bouncer at the Levee on the square. Mutual friends introduced them. Later when taking e
ngagement photos, they decided to take one in front of the Levee.
Priver said it was not as stressful as you would think to plan a wedding and go to school at the same time.
“I have my mom to thank for that,” said Priver. “It is just nothing but school and wedding things all the time.”
“I think that ‘ring by spring’ is a real concept, people want to get engaged before they graduate,” said Parker. “But I do not think it is realistic to juggle a wedding and getting a diploma.”
Emily Jameson is an Ole Miss senior and bridesmaid to her best friend Abbie, who is a senior at Auburn. Abbie dated her boyfriend for two years, before he popped the question. They got engaged October of her senior year.
“There is so much work that goes into a wedding, it’s been fun helping with all of the planning along the way,” said Jameson. “But it’s also very expensive, so far we have thrown Abbie a bridal shower, I have to fly to her bachelorette party, and I have paid for the bridesmaid dress I am wearing. She’s been very generous and understanding, but it’s still pricy.”
“I always wanted to have a candlelight just to be able to share that moment with my sorority sisters,” said McWilliams. “Come to find out, once I got engaged, I was so excited that I couldn’t even keep it a secret to make my candlelight a surprise. I got engaged on a Sunday afternoon and everyone knew by Monday night that the candlelight at chapter was for me. It was still fun, nonetheless.”
A candlelight is a ceremony held by a sorority, to announce that one of your sisters has gotten engaged. The newly engaged is supposed to keep her engagement a secret, from her chapter, but tell the president who plans the event. When the chapter next meets, they have the candlelight. The entire sorority circles, and passes a lit candle around the circle until the woman who is engaged blows the candle out. Then the newly engaged usually goes into the middle of the circle and tells the story of her engagement.
“I think a candle light is a traditional thing, it’s a fun secret things that you get to do with your sisters that everyone kind of looks forward to, but I don’t think its 15,000 dollars worth,” said Parker. “I think a big part of getting engaged, is the guy having enough responsibility to pay for the ring on his own and if you do the ‘ring by spring’ it’s rare that the boy will be able to afford the ring and afford a wedding, on his own.”
“I’m so in love with my boyfriend and I would say yes to him tomorrow, but I also know that we have a lot more maturing and growing to do,” said Jameson. “I think if we continue growing in our relationship, I would absolutely want to marry him, but I feel no pressure to have a candle light. We’re both religious so I trust Him in seeking God over our future and whenever that timing is, I’ll be happy with that.”
Jameson said she thinks it is a goal of a lot of girls at Ole Miss to get their ring by spring. They want the perfect proposal pics, engagement parties, and all the fun parts of a wedding and the excitement of a future with a man they love.
“However, something I’ve learned from the wedding I’m in is it’s planning a marriage,” said Jameson. “If you’re really ready you’re planning a life together, not a wedding or candlelight. You need to make sure you are mature enough to love this person as a spouse versus a best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend.”
“Marriage shouldn’t have a ticking clock attached to it.”
“I think ring by spring is applicable to girls at Ole Miss, because I feel like people are so rushed to get married and have kids at such a young age,” said Kara Rose, an Ole Miss Junior and Oxford native. “They feel like if they don’t find a guy in college, then they will never get married and they don’t realize how young they are before they graduate.”
According to Pew Research Center, among 18 to 29 – year – old’s who are not currently married and have no children, 70% say they want to get married now.
After only a couple months of dating, McWilliams new she was going to marry her now husband, Dustin and he proposed after only 11 months of dating.
“In May of 2015, we started officially dating. We knew by that summer we were going to get married,” said McWilliams. “I can’t even begin to explain how easy and perfect things fell into place.”
“Getting married isn’t about getting married at a certain time and I think that relationships are all different, so they should not all be set to a specific time and be rushed,” said Leland Graeber, a senior at Ole Miss. “If you are together forever, why rush it? Marriage shouldn’t have a ticking clock attached to it.”
“I feel that maybe people from the south get engaged sooner, but I don’t think there is much of a difference,” said Priver. “Southern or not, I can’t wait to marry my best friend.”
There is a stigma with the south, as being known to get married younger, but according to research done by The Daily Dot, Utah is the state with the youngest average marriage age for both men and women. Women being 23.8 and men at the age of 25.9.
Popping the Question
Taylor-Alice McWilliams walked into the Grove with her then boyfriend, thinking they were going to eat breakfast on a warm sunday morning. As she got closer to the stage she saw that there was an Ole Miss blanket on the ground, pictures hung on the columns of the two of them, and a table with a book for her on it, it said “Our Adventure Book.”
Taylor-Alice flipped through the book, and the last line in the adventure book said “…I think you know what it’s time for, so turn around and become my forever.” She turned around to find him down on one knee, holding the ring up to her. After sliding the ring onto her naked finger, he pointed out to the Grove trees, where all of her friends and
family were, waiting to celebrate the news.
“There was chalk written on the stage in ‘Mr and Mrs McWilliams”’and ‘January 7, 2017.’” said McWilliams. “Yes, we picked our date before he proposed.”
An outlet people have found to express the term ‘ring by spring’ is on social media, especially Twitter, whether it be in support of the phrase or not. The phrase is not only posted on personal pages where people are sarcastically venting about their singleness and crossing out the word ring and replace it with puppy, or by couples bragging about their engagement with photos and mushy love quotes. It is also an phrase that companies are using in order to sell their product. For example The Cake Pop Shop started to use the hashtag, #ringbyspring to promote their dessert treats.
“Ring by spring is a real term,” said Leland Graeber. “Whether it is something you support personally or not, it will always her here and something women dream about.”