features

For better, for worse, and for Yale

Nine couples who met or got married at Yale tell us their stories.

For more on what the couples are doing today, see From the Editor.

Hendrick Moy Photography

Hendrick Moy Photography

Lyndsey McMillon-Brown ’19PhD and Charles Brown ’19PhD at the Hall of Graduate Studies—the building where they first met—after their 2016 wedding. View full image

If you have been married, you have been asked where you met your spouse. For just under 30 percent of the US population, the answer to that question is college (at least according to a 2013 study by Facebook). Yale doesn’t track the number of Yalies who married fellow Yalies, let alone Yalies who married Yalies on the Yale campus. But we found some of those Yale-Yale couples who were willing to tell their stories.

We looked for on-campus weddings because Yale is beautiful. But we discovered that, while couples who met on campus are almost as plentiful as Yale sweatshirts, weddings at Yale are exceedingly rare. The university isn’t set up to host them; its space and staff are dedicated to mission-critical functions such as graduations, student events, and conferences. So what you’ll find in the following pages are mostly people who married as students or while working on campus. We did include one couple who married off-campus, for a very particular reason: they were probably the first Yale College couple to marry after Yale started admitting women undergraduates in 1969.

Hendrick Moy Photography

Hendrick Moy Photography

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Hendrick Moy Photography

Hendrick Moy Photography

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Lyndsey McMillon-Brown ’19PhD and Charles Brown ’19PhD

Charles and I met in August 2013, on move-in day in the Hall of Graduate Studies. I was walking through the D-wing fifth floor hallway when I passed Charles and other incoming physics PhD students—they were constructing wooden replicas of the GSAS crest for dorm room decoration. We exchanged phone numbers, and that sparked a fast friendship. Soon thereafter, we were inseparable. Our first date was at Educated Burgher, and while we were dating we shared frequent dinners in the HGS dining hall and many celebratory Mory’s cups.

After Charles proposed, at HGS, we began to plan our wedding, and we couldn’t fathom anywhere but Yale. Yale and New Haven were the epicenter of our romance—the single most important place to our story as a couple. I was a deacon at the University Church in Battell Chapel, resulting in a deep connection to Battell. Further, I formed a strong friendship with Associate Pastor Candice Provey, who went on to officiate at our wedding ceremony. The gorgeous campus was the perfect backdrop for our 2016 spring wedding, which was followed by an intimate reception at Roia with the finest New Haven fare. Charles and I are both still at Yale today, finishing up our PhDs in physics and chemical engineering.

Michael Marsland

Michael Marsland

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James Lockman ’89 and Rori Myers Lockman ’92

Rori and I met in the fall of 1988 as members of the Yale Precision Marching Band. I was a senior and the drum major. Rori was a freshwoman, beginning her career as YPMB Props Goddess. We stayed together after I graduated and became a high school physics teacher in Massachusetts, and I proposed to Rori at the beginning of her senior year at Yale. We were at Robert Henry’s restaurant, now the Union League Café. Yale president Benno Schmidt was at the next table.

As we are of different faiths, we wanted to find a place that was most meaningful for us as a couple and would remain so after we wed. The Yale Bowl—the site of so many Saturday afternoons together—was our choice. The Yale Bands officers enthusiastically signed on, and they enlisted the help of Director Thomas C. Duffy. 

During halftime of the Yale-Fordham game, the YPMB executed a wedding cake formation on the field. (See diagram and instructions below.) Atop the cake were Judge Robert Riley, the happy couple, and our attendants. Once the 10,000-plus attendees figured out that it wasn’t just another YPMB stunt, they kept silent for the ceremony, and we were married right there at the 50 yard line.

Rori and I live in Maine with our three sons. We have a reserved parking spot in the Yale Athletic Department lot, outside the Yale Bowl, for tailgates.

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Ben Benedict ’73, ’76MArch and Heidi Humphrey ’75, ’78MFA

Our relationship started off on a sour note. It was 1972. Heidi was a fresh(wo)man, I was a junior, and we were in one of the first meetings of a design class on the top floor of the A&A building (now Rudolph Hall). All the students had put their solutions to the day’s assignment on the wall, and we were having a group critique. Heidi curtly dismissed my solution, though I’d earlier complimented hers. I thought: “Feisty. I should get to know her better.” She’d already moved on.

The following year we lived together at the beach with my Silliman roommate. (It was a new era, though our parents probably didn’t see it that way.) After Heidi’s junior year and my first year at the architecture school, we got married. That was May of 1974. I stood at the altar with a thigh-high cast on my left leg from a skiing accident; the “sickness and health” line in the vows got a good laugh. When the ceremony in Dwight Chapel was over, we pushed through the door to a delightful spring day on the Old Campus, while the Harkness carillon played in our honor—a wedding gift from George Vaill ’35, the associate secretary of Yale.

We’re still growing up together, 42 years and two children later.

Studio A Images

Studio A Images

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Studio A Images

Studio A Images

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Nicholas Alton Lewis ’13MDiv and Janelle Schmouder Lewis ’13MAR

Janelle and I first met in 2011, during orientation for new students at Yale Divinity School. (It’s held in August, and it’s called BTFO—“Before the Fall” Orientation.) I was in the second year of my program, serving as BTFO social coordinator for incoming students. Janelle was a bright-eyed first-year. The first time I laid eyes upon her was in the backyard of the Berkeley Center on St. Ronan Street, at a barbecue for new students. We both agree that this was the Sitz im Leben—“setting in life”—the context in which we met. Past that, our accounts of that magical moment radically diverge. Were you to ask Janelle, she would say she recalls me cutting in front of her in the food line. As I remember the circumstance, I was only exercising my prerogative as social coordinator to step forward in the line and claim the “gluten-free option.” Either way, it turned out to be a most fortuitous meeting. After a chance run-in on the dance floor at GPSCY (Graduate and Professional Student Center at Yale) and a coffee date in October, the rest is history.

We graduated in 2013. Janelle accepted a position in the Career Development Office at Yale Law School, while I relocated to Bard College, in New York State, to serve as community life chaplain. Two years later, I returned to YDS as associate dean of student affairs. Shortly thereafter, with the help of several YDS colleagues, I surprised Janelle by proposing to her in the Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel. We were wed there on June 4, 2016, in the company of close family and friends. Rev. Dr. Frederick “Jerry” Streets, former Yale university chaplain, officiated. 

Justin Haaheim and Glenn Koetzner

Justin Haaheim and Glenn Koetzner

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Oby Ballinger ’08MDiv and Javen Swanson ’09MDiv

Javen and I met after he enrolled at Yale Divinity School in the fall of 2006, when I was starting my second year. We bonded over common experiences growing up in Minnesota and attending Lutheran colleges. That first year, we shared back-to-back Greek and New Testament classes three times a week. Study dates turned into West Wing dates and sitting next to each other in daily worship at Marquand Chapel. The Divinity School community nurtured our budding romance, then celebrated when we got engaged, 18 months later.

We chose to marry on Javen’s graduation weekend, because his family would already be in town and because we’d have little hope of getting all our Yale friends together later on. We invited the whole community to witness the wedding if they wished, and we had nearly 200 people in Marquand Chapel on May 22, 2009, when we tied the knot. One of our officiants was the dean of students, and the other two were co-pastors at a nearby church. The ceremony music was everything we could have wished for: piano, drums, dueling organs, soloists, joyful congregational song, and a hymn written by Javen for the occasion. Serving communion to dozens of our beloved family and friends (plus some folks we’d never met) remains one of my most powerful memories of the day.

We were the first same-sex couple to legally wed in Marquand Chapel, as Connecticut law had changed just a few months before, but that seemed of secondary importance that day. What mattered most was the community that gathered—as it had so many times before in that space—to worship and manifest God’s presence “on earth as in heaven.” Yale Divinity School brought us together, supported our love, then blessed us beyond measure with such a joyful celebration.

Caroline Frost Photography

Caroline Frost Photography

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Caroline Frost Photography

Caroline Frost Photography

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Jane Hu ’09 and Nathaniel Clark ’09

We met near the beginning of our freshman year, during a meal in the Calhoun College dining hall. I was eating a bagel. As soon as Nate sat down next to me, I dropped it into my lap. “What, did you butter the outside of it?” he asked. Six years later, we were engaged, and we knew the only place to get married was where it all started. We were married in August 2012 in the Calhoun College courtyard, in the company of many Yalies—including our best man and maid of honor, who were also Calhoun ’09. And, of course, we closed out the day with a rendition of “Bright College Years.”

Chion Wolf

Chion Wolf

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Chion Wolf

Chion Wolf

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Chion Wolf

Chion Wolf

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Diana Carroll ’08MDiv and Sarah Lamming

My wife and I met in 2005, when I was starting my first year at Yale Divinity School and she was an exchange student from England for the fall semester. The LGBTQ Coalition had (perhaps still has?) a tradition of going to BAR, the pizza restaurant on Crown Street, for a “First Night Out” just before the start of classes. Neither of us had cars, so we got a ride from another student and introduced ourselves as we got into the back seat. Over the course of the fall, we became good friends. But it was only on the last day of classes, 11 days before she flew back to England, that we realized our relationship had grown into more than friendship.

After three and a half years of long distance across the ocean, we returned to Yale in 2009, to be married in Marquand Chapel before beginning our new life together in Philadelphia. It was technically our second wedding—we had gotten a civil partnership in the UK a few months earlier—and also not technically a wedding at all: federal law and the Episcopal Church did not yet recognize our relationship as a marriage. (Thankfully, both now do.) Many of our friends from Yale attended and took part in the service. When most of your classmates are clergy, there are plenty of people to help out!

In 2013, we were legally married in Maryland. But our ceremony at Marquand was the one that mattered most to us. That was the moment when we considered ourselves married, even if the wider world did not. It was incredibly beautiful to hold that celebration in the very place where our relationship began, surrounded by so many of our family and friends.

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Leigh Anna Wight Reichenbach ’89 and Fritz Reichenbach ’88

On a cold Tuesday night in February of my junior year, my singing group, Proof of the Pudding, was singing at Mory’s. Another group, the SOBs, had gathered in the front room, and we decided to send in a trio to serenade them. The soloist for the torch song was absent, so I stepped in. As I sang, I zeroed in on a particularly tall, lanky, blue-eyed senior I had run into a couple of times before. When the song ended, he introduced himself as Fritz and invited me to join him at Rudy’s nearby.

That spring, Fritz and I used a History of Jazz class we were both taking as an excuse for a number of dates to hear live jazz, ostensibly for research purposes. Fritz graduated in May, spent the summer traveling through Europe, and then flew to my home state of Florida to drive back to school with me. By the time we reached New Haven, we were engaged. We married the following May, the week after exams ended and the week before I graduated. We exchanged vows at Battell Chapel—with eight Yalies standing up with us, Yale friends providing the glorious music, and the service officiated by a newly ordained Yale Div School graduate (who had forgotten his Book of Common Prayer and couldn’t convince the punctilious librarians at Sterling Memorial Library to loan him one). Fritz and I spent our first night of wedded bliss at the Yale Club in New York. Shortly thereafter I departed with Whim ’n Rhythm for a summer tour of Southeast Asia and Australia. What a honeymoon—Fritz would have loved it!

More than 25 years and three children later, Fritz and I have recently moved from Chicago to Singapore, where we live only a few miles from Yale-NUS. 

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Charlie Godwin ’74 and Jenny Phillips Godwin ’74

We entered Yale in 1969 with the class of ’73—the first year for undergraduate women—and were introduced by our dear late friend Alan Berenbaum ’73 at dinner in Stiles. We were friends for a year, and then we realized we were in love. Dean Thompson of Ezra Stiles College said he would file our wedding invitation between Love Story and The Greening of America. We were romantic and radical enough to want to say out loud in front of friends that we wanted a life together.

We are still amazed that 14 Yalies made the long trip to Mississippi during spring break in 1971 for our wedding. Next, we took a year’s leave to work and travel. We returned, to Yale married-student housing, for the birth of Gabriel in August 1972, weeks before our junior year began.

We are grateful to our family and friends who have helped us reach this anniversary. We are still friends, still walking, still talking—three children, three grandchildren, and 46 years later. 

To the best of our knowledge, the Godwins were the first Yale College couple to marry.—Eds.

2 comments

  • Dr. Jonathan Lee Jerke
    Dr. Jonathan Lee Jerke, 9:28pm April 27 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Very nice accounts here. And, so, we will soon celebrate our seventh anniversary, having been married in Dwight Chapel on graduation weekend 2010! My wife and I met when I was a Physics PhD candidate and she was personal assistant for Yale World Fellow Hauwa Ibrihim, '05. Dwight was our choice, since we spent some date nights hearing the Yale Russian Chorus in Dwight and Chant choirs. What a wonderful and fitting chapel for our wedding, on May 22, 2010. Since then we have ushered in five grandchildren, whom we tell our story of education and love at Yale U!

  • Julie Lavorgna
    Julie Lavorgna, 6:46am April 28 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    This brings back memories. We were married in Battell Chapel in 1985 surrounded by beloved friends from among students, faculty, and staff. At the time I was the Administrative Assistant in Berkeley College, and Gary (aka Godfather) was Senior Groundskeeper of the Old Campus. Although we had worked across the street from each other for several years, we had never met until we walked the picket line together during the strike of 1984.

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