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Wedding bells ring in William Allen White

  • Anita Lin, graduate English language and literature student, takes a moment to share a smile with her new husband Alex Dowdell, a microbiology graduate at University of Kansas Medical Center, during their wedding ceremony Feb. 14 in the William Allen White Library commons area. (Jon Coffey)
  • Anita Lin, graduate English language and literature student, and Alex Dowdell, a microbiology graduate at University of Kansas Medical Center, share their first kiss as a married couple. (Jon Coffey)

On Feb. 14, two people were joined in holy matrimony. It’s a story that’s been seen a hundred times, but something was different about this particular nuptial exchange – it took place in Emporia State’s William Allen White Library.

Anita Lin, graduate English language and literature student, and her now-husband Alex Dowdell, a microbiology grad at University of Kansas Medical Center, decided that the library’s 24-hour study commons area would be perfect for their civil ceremony to take place.

“They started talking about when to get married and thought Valentine’s Day sounded like a good plan,” said Gwen Larson, assistant director of Marketing and Media Relations. “So basically, they were looking for a judge who would marry them and thinking, ‘We find a judge – we use the judge’s courtroom; everything’s peachy.’ Well, none of the judges at district court apparently had time on their calendars for Valentine’s Day. So then they went looking for another officiate. She started thinking about it and she’s in the learning commons a lot. She made the comment that she’s been in there at four in the morning studying. And so she thought well, I’ll just ask. And so whoever was in charge of the space said, ‘Sure, why not?’ It is our first wedding in the Learning Commons at White Library.”

The two met through Match.com in July of 2013 and hit it off, and they decided to meet in person at the end of July.

“I was about to fly to Miami for vacation,” Lin said. “It was kind of like a blind date, so it was just had a coffee, then chat, and that was it.”

Lin and Dowdell started dating a little after their third date, but didn’t start thinking about a wedding until closer to Thanksgiving.

“We drove all the (way) back to his hometown, Littleton, Colorado. And we met his parents and we had dinner with them, and then he said ‘Let’s take a walk to downtown,’” Lin said. “So we take a walk downtown. It was before Thanksgiving, so there wasn’t a lot of lights there, but he was trying to find a place that was very bright.”

After walking in silence for a while, Dowdell finally found an area he thought was “right.” Reaching for the ring, his nerves got the best of him.

“He tried to reach in his pocket for the ring, but it was stuck,” Lin said. “Then he got his knee down and then he propose(d) in Chinese. Yeah, it was really cute.” But the first time he didn’t say it very right. I gave him a hard time. Like, what did you say?”

The two decided on Valentine’s Day as their wedding date because as graduate students, they are both getting really busy with school and preparing for graduation.

“Oh, they’re so fun. It’s just so sweet to watch them,” Larson said. “Some of Anita’s friends had made some decorations to decorate the learning commons and nobody was quite sure how they would want it set up. In came Alex, and he started moving everything. I remember thinking, ‘Wow – a groom that’s setting up for the wedding.’”

Dowdell commented that he wasn’t even nervous about getting married.

“It’s going to sound crazy, but I think the emotions that I was feeling (were) mostly kind of like excitement,” Dowdell said. “It was a really busy half an hour right before the wedding actually started. We had to prepare everything in such a short amount of time, so I didn’t really have time to be nervous because I was so much focused on getting everything set. It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh, I’m freaking out ‘cause it’s my wedding,’ it was more like, you know, ‘Oh, I’m stressed out because I just spent 20 minutes putting a wedding together.’”

With camera-wielding friends and other library patrons, the ceremony went underway. Lin’s family was able to watch the wedding via video chat, and afterward the newlyweds and Dowdell’s family went to Bobby D’s for lunch.

“We had a wedding that was unlike anybody else’s, and I think it’s one they’re always going to remember,” Dowdell said.

Though some people may think that the couple moved into their marriage a little fast, Dowdell completely disagrees.

“I guess quickly is a relative term,” Dowdell said. “People go through relationships at their own speed and this just felt like the right speed for us. I’m 110 percent sure that I married the right person. Every day I grow more and more sure of that.”

After graduation in May, Lin plans to move to Kansas City to live with Dowdell. They plan on doing a more traditional Chinese wedding with Lin’s family later this year.

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