Iowa State preps for wedding, engagement season

Jake Gallaher proposing to girlfriend Sami McCool under the Campanile.

Sierra Hoeger

With spring and warm weather finally making its annual debut on Iowa State’s campus, love is in the air as Iowa State enters its busiest season for weddings on campus.

From having their own Pinterest board to assisting with everything from invitations to color schemes, Iowa State does their best to help couples plan their perfect day. 

Jessica Erickson, wedding coordinator at Iowa State, is very hands-on with her job. From consultations to cake tasting, she is there every step of the way, helping couples plan their perfect day at Iowa State.

“Couples can expect to work with people who are passionate about weddings and providing the best customer service possible,” Erickson said. “They can expect competitive prices, delicious food and convenient amenities and services.”

With several location options both inside and outside, couples can choose to get married at staple Iowa State locations, such as under the Campanile or in the Great Hall.

 Iowa State also caters to more than 500 guests, making it possible to invite anyone the bride and groom desires.

“I am happy to assist the couple in any way possible, and I am always happy to offer my opinion or advice based on my experiences,” Erickson said. “I do try to be as hands on as I can, attending all meetings, tastings, etc. before the date of the wedding. On the day of the wedding, I am onsite all day assisting the couple with set up, overseeing timing and being available to assist with anything the couple may need.”

Weddings at Iowa State can often take up to a year or more to plan. The quickest Erickson has ever planned a successful wedding? Anywhere from four to five months. While a bulk of weddings take place during the summer, Iowa State hosts about 25 to 32 weddings a year.

For one Iowa State couple’s romance, it can be compared to that of a romantic comedy, with an unlikely beginning and some unexpected turns.

“I went to an all-guys school. So I only met her through friends in her friend group,” Jake Gallaher, senior in biology, said. “I thought the first time we met was at a bonfire, but I guess we met a few times before that. But I remember she walked into the back door into the house that we were at, and that’s kinda like the moment where I was like, I don’t even know this girl but I’m gonna marry her one day.”

His fiancée, Sami McCool, was unsure in the beginning and had actually been talking to some of his friends at the time. It wasn’t until one of McCool’s friends had given Jake her number and said he better hurry that he decided to make a move. McCool is a former Iowa State student and transferred to DMACC this year to be part of their dental hygiene program.

The couple began dating in high school, and had no intentions on attending the same college.

“I was gonna go to Iowa, but then I fell in love with the Iowa State campus, and my family was moving to Urbandale, so I wanted to be closer to them, and it just all worked out,” McCool said.

The couple logged plenty of hours inside Parks Library during their time shared at Iowa State, finding the act of studying could also double as time spent together hanging out. They were also members in the Greek community, and some of their best memories derive from spending time together at formals, Greek Week activities and other events within their fraternity and sorority.

“I knew I wanted to do it somewhere we could visit back in the future, in 10, 15 years, and revisit that spot,” Gallaher said about proposal ideas. “So, I was tossing around a few ideas in my head, the library being one of them. Fortunately, I didn’t go with that option, because I guess it’s not that romantic, but we spent a lot of time there.”

However, the weather on the day Gallaher had planned to propose ruined his plans, forcing him to push back something he had been waiting to do since he first laid eyes on McCool. His initial plan was to go on a walk with her near the Campanile, and get down on one knee underneath the picture-perfect spot. But with the impending snow, he knew she would never agree to go on a walk.

Instead, he planned to do it the following Monday. It was the first “nice” day on campus. Hammocks, dogs, and a majority of Iowa State students could be seen outside, soaking up the sun. With such good weather in the forecast, he had a two-day time crunch to finalize last-minute plans.

“I had to quickly get everything, flowers. I wanted to get a haircut because I wanted to look decent,” Gallaher said. “I had two of my buddies help take pictures and have the flowers there and set up so everything was good [and] make sure no one was in the area, so it just went smoothly.”

Meanwhile, McCool had no clue that she was going to walk to the Campanile empty-handed and leave with a rock on her ring finger. The Campanile plays a little bit of a role in their relationship as well, with Gallaher always pining for a kiss at midnight to check off of the classic Iowa State bucket list of traditions, but McCool had always refused, for one reason or another.

Making the Campanile the perfect spot to go through with the proposal, Gallaher would finally get his coveted kiss.

“He was a very good liar the whole day, which he can never really get any surprises past me so he was really good,” McCool said about the proposal. “I didn’t expect anything. I would’ve never thought it would happen on a Monday.”