From pop quizzes to popping the question


Courtesy of Kayla Giovanni

Peter Watkins and Kayla Giovanni after Watkins had proposed. 

Sierra Hoeger

Getting married in college can seem like a daunting task for those who wish to take it on. To some it may sound crazy, to spend more money while already paying for the many costs of college, and giving up free time to plan a wedding.

Well, call them crazy, but these college couples are willing to take on the task.

“We admitted we were in love with each other just six weeks into our relationship and by two months we were ready to marry each other,” said Kayla Giovanni, a junior in criminal justice studies.

Giovanni and her fiancé, Peter Watkins who is an Army Infantry Officer, met last spring on campus after Giovanni decided to join the Army ROTC for a semester. The two have been inseparable ever since. From doing homework to going grocery shopping, and even working out together, the couple feels like they’ve been dating longer than they actually have given the amount of time they spend together, and how comfortable they feel around each other.

“We started dating after spring break,” Watkins said. “We were pretty inseperable. You wouldn’t get one without the other.”

The couple has a rather unique love story that resulted in a quick engagement. Watkins said that after a trip to Europe together, the couple had “engagement fever.”

While most college students may prefer to wait and get married after college, Giovanni and Watkins had talked about the possibility of getting married early on in their relationship.

“Due to the nature of my career, I wasn’t really looking for a relationship, but if there was to be someone I would date she would have to be pretty close to the one and meet all my criteria,” Watkins said.

Both Giovanni and Watkins recall having multiple conversations about reservations they had toward getting married such as Watkins’ current job and placement making them long-distance, being two years apart in age and how much time and effort both of them would be able to put into the relationship.

“I remember specifically one night we ended up having a conversation about marriage, life goals and kids for about five hours,” Giovanni said. “What initiated this conversation was the fact that he was going into the military, he wanted to make sure I knew that I was either in or I was out.”

While the frill and fun of planning a wedding can make it even more exciting, the approval of friends and family is also important.

“He asked my parents permission for my hand in marriage over Thanksgiving break 2018 and my parents cried happy tears,” Giovanni said. “They absolutely adore him.” 

Time, dedication and a good eye are just a few things that go into planning a wedding.

“It’s all about time management and organization,” Giovanni said. “I have to make myself set aside time for wedding planning because if I didn’t I would just plan and plan all day long and never get any school work done.”

Giovanni and Watkins timeline:

  • Spring semester 2018: the two meet, making a connection immediately
  • March 2018: they start officially dating, after going to Watkins’ formal together
  • December 2018: Watkins proposes to Giovanni at his Army ROTC commissioning ceremony.

Another Iowa State couple has known each other since kindergarten, and has been planning their wedding for nearly two years.

“In fourth grade, Alec told me he liked me by passing me a note, and we started dating officially the summer going into ninth grade,” said Bailey Wehlage, a senior in marketing. “It will be our ninth year officially dating this summer.” 

Wehlage and her fiancé, senior Alec Olson, were neighbors in Minnesota and met through school. At Iowa State, despite having very different majors, marketing and aerospace engineering, the couple enjoys hiking, climbing and helping each other with their school work.

Originally, Olson had not wanted to get married, let alone engaged while still in college.

“Alec and I have a strong relationship that allows trust, which allows us to still experience life with friends,” Wehlage said. “I believe that as long as you are comfortable in the decision, those reservations from outside the relationship don’t matter.”

The couple had planned to take a trip to Seattle over Thanksgiving Break in 2017, while there Olson had planned to propose, but the trip ended up falling through. Olson had to think fast in order to ensure that his proposal would still be a surprise.

Olson proposed at a Christmas tree farm in Minnesota, where the couple intended to take Christmas card photos. After proposing, the two decided to continue on with the photo shoot and used it as an engagement shoot as well.

“Being together for so long initiated the conversation of getting engaged,” Wehlage said. “We both talked about it openly and sometimes seriously just because we felt like we were getting to the amount of years people usually spend together before getting married.”

The pair hasn’t let wedding planning consume their lives, by only allowing one day of the week for wedding planning. The couple plans on Sundays and whenever they’re home in Minnesota.

“Planning a wedding during college is stressful,” Wehlage said. “Planning a wedding out of state, is even more crazy. We found it easier to talk and make decisions on one day of the week, instead of stressing about things every single day. This allows us to talk about things other than the wedding 24/7.”

For each of the couples, wedding planning has been very taxing and has required lots of work. Both couples said they are lucky that their parents and families are willing to help out as well.

Besides the work of planning a wedding, being engaged hasn’t seemed to change the overall atmosphere of college for either of the couples. Bailey admits that she still sits at 18 credits a semester and has connected with other couples who have also gotten engaged at Iowa State.

“Even sitting here answering these questions, I have about three tabs open of wedding related content that is waiting for me to figure out,” Wehlage said. “It’ll all be worth it in the end.”

Wehlage and Olson timeline:

  • Started dating the summer before ninth grade
  • November 2017: the pair gets engaged at a Christmas tree farm in Minnesota
  • October 2019: the two will get married