Swasey Chapel was alive this past Saturday, April 15th, for an event that was as uniquely strange as it was celebratory. There was a dance competition, ring pops, a miniature car driving down the aisle, a recitation of one of Shakepeare’s sonnets and many barking dogs. The event was a fake wedding put on by the members of Denison’s Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL). It was an outlandish event that was meant to be both a sincere celebration and a promise within the FSL community that students would come together and promote unity going forward.
Denison’s first ever annual FSL unity wedding was an event meant to bring members of different chapters from different Greek councils together. The four councils on Denison’s campus include the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Panhellenic Council (PHC). Chapters from each of these councils agreed to come together and raise money for the Licking County Humane Society in a friendly competition that promised the winner a chance to get “married” to someone from a different chapter under a different council. The participating fraternity and sorority chapters were partnered up, with an emphasis on bonding between people from different councils. The pairs were Phi Iota Alpha and Kappa Alpha Theta, Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Lambda Gamma, Phi Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Gamma and Phi Kappa Psi with Delta Gamma.
During the week leading up to the wedding, volunteers from each participating organization tabled outside Slayter to raise money for the Licking County Humane Society and advertise the event. Students voted on several previously nominated members from each chapter to potentially be married by donating a dollar per vote. The nominee from each chapter that received the most votes would be their representative in the pairing. The pair that raised the most money collectively would then be “married” in front of the entire Greek community. The pair getting married was completely unknown until the day of, making it a surprise to attendees.
Highlights of the ceremony featured the many couples dancing down the aisle to their chosen songs, which included “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, “Back in Black” by AC/DC, and “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men. The University Chaplain, Stephanie Mclemore, officiated the wedding and used her platform to encourage FSL members to build strong relationships across the councils. She also read one of Shakespare’s sonnets and recited a children’s story. There was a dance competition to determine who the flower girl would be, complete with fanny packs full of petals. The ceremony also included introductory remarks by Alex Pan, President of Phi Iota Alpha, and Yana Quel, President of the Denison Humane Society.
Some members of the Denison student body expressed frustration with the heteronormative idea of an FSL wedding. The concern was that this type of event seemed outdated and an expression of traditional gender roles that the wedding doesn’t recognize. DCGA president Alex Pan did express his understanding of these concerns, but emphasized the overall importance of unity and connection between councils as the overarching goal of the wedding.
Antonio Baldovinos from Phi Iota Alpha and Yana Quel from Kappa Alpha Theta were the pair who got married after both organizations worked together and raised the most money.
“I really hope to improve my relations with the Thetas, especially cross-council relations, that’s really important, to ease the tension between multicultural Greek organizations and historically white organizations,” said Antonio Baldovinos.
All the participating chapters agreed to one bonding event before the wedding and committed to doing two more bonding events in the next year, continuing the unity that the wedding provided.
“It’s basically trying to bond between different councils,” said Yana Quel.
The wedding ended in a gift exchange between the partnered sororities and fraternities. The gifts included a gift card, a bouquet of flowers, decorated paddles, a pan, water guns, a miniature car, a painting, two stuffed lions, a painted banner and just “good vibes.”