Have you ever tried to plan a wedding and attend college courses at the same time? Your answer is probably a resounding, “NO!” You are not wrong in saying no because the average age for couples to get married in the U.S is 28 for men and 26 for women, according to an article published in USA Today. However, enter Meghan Eells. At 21, Meghan is preparing to graduate from college in Philadelphia while also planning her wedding eight hours away from her home in Meadville, PA.
Meghan and Sam became fast friends during Sam’s first afternoon on campus as a freshman when a mutual friend introduced them. Three years later, Meghan and Sam went on a “back to school” date at the Moshulu, a restaurant aboard a boat docked along the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Sam proposed during dessert in front of other dinner guests. Obviously, Meghan said yes.
Going to the Chapel: Where are you getting married?
Meghan Eells: We are getting married in a small town called Meadville, Pa. It’s where I grew up. Although we’re not getting married at the Church I’ve gone to all my life (it’s way too small), we are getting married in a Church that’s been around Meadville forever. The pastor at this Church has also agreed to incorporate any Jewish traditions that we would like into the ceremony to make our “big day” the best it can possibly be. (I’m Christian, Sam’s Jewish.)
GTTC: What is it like to plan a wedding at such a young age?
ME: It’s hard. It’s not only hard because so much more work goes into planning a wedding than you would EVER think, but it’s hard because I have college classes, a full-time internship, a part-time job and I’m eight hours away from home. Just thinking about my schedule makes me tired. However, I don’t really think of wedding planning as “work”; it’s more of a getaway for me.
GTTC: How would you describe the process of planning your wedding? What has been the hardest? The easiest?
ME: The easiest part: my dress. I knew the SECOND I put it on that it was meant for me. More about that later. The hardest part: making a list of people that we want to be there for the most important day of our lives thus far and making it a realistic size. For the most part, I have such a strong “team” helping me with everything else in this process. My Mom is making our wedding cake, a groom’s cake, the silk flower bouquets and SO much more. She’s so artsy it’s ridiculous (and I inherited NONE of those genes). She has done more than I could have ever asked for and the wedding is still a little less than six months away. My Maid of Honor [MOH]/cousin/best friend since birth is always ready to shop as well as do research. Sam’s Mom (Mom S.!) and sister Michelle have been my “East Coast Team” in helping with everything that can be done away from home. I know I couldn’t do this on my own, and I am so very blessed that our families are so close (both with us and each other).
GTTC: You are so far away from home while you are at college. Has it been hard to plan your wedding?
ME: It’s hard to plan some things here (we went bridesmaid dress shopping in Yardley) and some things at home (we researched DJ’s, reception sites, Churches, etc.). I want to be there when all of the “big decisions” are made but that doesn’t always happen because, during the school year, I live eight hours away from where the wedding is taking place. I let my Mom know which bouquets I wanted via picture messages she sent me of them. The same thing goes for the groom’s cake and the idea of the actual wedding cake. We sent MULTIPLE pictures of bridesmaid dresses across PA to all of the bridesmaids to find out which one we agreed on. We’re definitely making it work, but I think it would be easier if we were all in the same place.
We also are trying to plan “wedding events” on both sides of PA. Sam’s family threw an engagement party for us in Yardley in late October. The bridal shower, wedding and reception will be in Meadville. We have thought about having a small get together in Yardley after the wedding to celebrate with those who may not have been able to make the trip for the actual day.
GTTC: What was is like to say YES to the dress?
ME: My Mom, MOH (Erin) and I went dress shopping Thanksgiving weekend. I was definitely NOT planning on buying a dress that day, and it was honestly the first time I was looking in person; I brought in some pictures from magazines. However, when I put on MY dress, I just knew. I can’t even explain it. I tried on less than ten dresses. I didn’t cry, but I don’t cry too often. The dress fit perfectly and doesn’t even need any alterations. I was 100% sure when I found every excuse I could to keep the dress ON and just walk around the store in it. The dress honestly mirrors my personality and is exactly what I was looking for.
GTTC: Because you are younger, is planning your wedding more about what you want or more about what your family wants to see happen?
ME: My parents are paying for the whole entire wedding and reception. With that said, the thing I’ve heard my Mom say the most throughout this whole planning process is “Meghan, it’s your wedding, make sure you get what you want. Don’t let anyone choose for you or push you around.”…or something along those lines. My parents want to see me happy. My Mom comes to me for even the smallest decisions and wants them “OK’d” by me because she wants it to be my day.
I also am very diplomatic. Even though I will be the first one to announce my opinion, I don’t want to MAKE anyone do anything. I had the bridesmaids vote (via text!) which dress they liked the best. I also think that I should point out that for the area I grew up in, 21 isn’t actually all that young to be married. A handful of people I graduated high school with are already married and even have children. My Mom and Dad were 21 and 22 when they got married. I guess because it’s always been around me, I don’t really view myself as being “too young to marry” (which I’ve been told by people around Philadelphia when they heard I was getting married).
GTTC: How do you think it would be different to plan your wedding if you were older?
ME: I’m not exactly sure how different it would be. I think that as people age, they become more independent of their parents and the community/support system that helped to raise them. I can’t even imagine planning a wedding with my family and friends not so actively involved. I also think that it wouldn’t be as nice. I won’t have the money that my parents are shelling out for the wedding for a VERY long time. I think that sometimes, older brides are often expected to foot the bill themselves because they are so “independent” and “grown-up”.
GTTC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
ME: I love Sam more than anything. If money was a problem (which it can be for couples who are so young and still dependant) and our parents were unsupportive (which is a possible problem for young and old couples alike), I would marry him at the courthouse in a heartbeat. However, I can’t express to you how thankful I am that both of our families are so willing and ready to help as well as so supportive of our “young wedding”. I think both sides see how hard we have fallen for each other and would never want to stand in the way of that.
Surrounded by family and friends, Meghan and Sam will marry during a traditional ceremony followed by a reception in Meghan’s hometown on August 6, 2011 – less than three months after they graduate from college. Congratulations to you both; all the best