If you’ve ever taken a guided tour of the College, you may have heard the tour guide bragging about the high percentage of alumni who get married after meeting at Bowdoin. Many of them, along with townsfolk and friends of the College, exchange vows right here on campus each year.
Although the Bowdoin campus plays host to weddings throughout the year, summer tends to be the busiest season, largely due to the lack of student events on campus. Once the academic year begins, it is harder to coordinate weddings while taking into account the bustling schedule of the college.
According to Director of Events and Summer Programs Tony Sprague, there are only two weddings on the books for the academic year as of yet. The first, which occurred on September 7, joined two alumni from the Classes of 2008 and 2009. The second, set to take place in January, involves a couple with a wider affiliation with the College.
“A lot of what we see with weddings in general is that it’s people who have some type of affiliation—whether it’s grandfather, parent, they themselves went or they’re marrying someone who went to Bowdoin—where having the ceremony happen here on campus is an important part of the experience,” said Sprague.
Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine last year, no same-sex couples have approached Sprague to request a ceremony at Bowdoin yet.
Though the majority of couples choose to hold their weddings in the chapel, other spaces on campus, such as the Cram Alumni House are also available to rent. In the summer of 2012, Bowdoin Senior Housekeeper David Reed and his wife Kathi, who works at Jack Magee’s Pub, held their ceremony in Smith Union’s Morrell Lounge.
“The chapel wasn’t available that day,” said Reed. “We were going to do it in Daggett Lounge, but summer programs were here and so that would have been too loud with a band, and Cram was shut down.”
According to Reed, when a friend proposed the idea of hosting the wedding in Smith, the couple thought it was perfect.
“It was a Bowdoin affair,” Reed said. “Somebody from Bowdoin made our cake, we had Bowdoin help, Bowdoin bands—might as well have a Bowdoin building.”
The price of a Bowdoin wedding has increased substantially in recent years. In 2011, a couple interested in renting out the chapel was required to pay $275 to reserve the facility and maintenance crew for their event. Last fall, however, the fee rose to $750.
“The rate had been at that level for a number of years,” Sprague said. “It was shifted to make sure that when people were looking at weddings here, they were booking the wedding because they really wanted to be married at Bowdoin not just because they were seeing Bowdoin as the least expensive option.”
After the fee is paid, Sprague and the College work to make sure the event runs smoothly.
“We really try to stay involved, more on just the facility side and making sure that it’s set up the way they’re looking for, that they have what they need for instruments or chairs or microphones,” Sprague said. “We tend to not really get involved in the ceremony aspects.”
Though couples are granted access to the Chapel’s piano and organ, they must provide their own officiator, musicians, photographers and decorations.