WESTFIELD – Every college has its graduation rituals. Most are steeped in generations of tradition and some are a bit more unorthodox.
For Westfield State University seniors, the week before graduation – Senior Week – is a time for creating those final memories before catapulting into the real world. Attending parties and decorating mortar boards are typically on the to-do list, and of course you can’t forget about the weddings.
Several years ago, residents of the Lincoln Street neighborhood began noticing that once a year on a sunny Thursday afternoon in May, the off-campus WSU students would gather in their finest spring attire.
Women in floral dresses and men in suits — often carrying cases of beer – flock to the same house where a “couple” gets “married.”
It’s the WSU Senior Week Mock Wedding tradition, and it’s one that has stuck.
This year, seniors Caitlyn Hurley of Walpole and Zach Marshall of Clinton served as wedding planners. They invited guests, gathered the wedding party and even recruited the bride and groom.
“Caitlyn texted us last night and asked us to be the bride and groom,” said Samantha Govoni, of Chelmsford.
Govoni and her “husband” Jordan Vogel, of Gardner, said “I do” surrounded by their seven bridesmaids, seven groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer.
Hurley served the bride as flower girl while Marshall, dressed as a rabbi, served as the wedding officiant. He even wrapped a wine glass in a fabric napkin for the groom to stomp on at the completion of the mock wedding ceremony.
“It started years ago as a fun way to celebrate Senior Week,” said Marshall.
Hurley was a mock wedding guest last year and took charge, along with Marshall this year. The origins remain a bit of a mystery to students and neighbors, but the guests always seem to arrive on time and bearing gifts of refreshments.
“It’s become a tradition,” Hurley said. “Students, especially seniors, know all about it and Zach and I created a Facebook page for guests this year.”
The mock wedding included flower bouquets for the wedding party and the exchange of stretchy blinged-out wedding bands.
WSU’s graduation is May 18 at the MassMutual Center.