Engaged CMU students share their stories of how they found love

Three young women certain they've found 'the one'


Genesee junior Allison Jacobs, right, poses for a photo with her fiancé, Garrian Spohn, left. (Courtesy Photo)

Across the Atlantic Ocean while exploring the Greek city of Athens with her best friend, Holt junior Claire Lewis met her soon-to-be husband Mason senior Max-Edward Rizer. 

Lewis is currently spending the Spring 2019 semester abroad in France. There is a six hour time difference which makes her desire to talk to Rizer constantly nearly impossible. Although she is only an hour-long train ride outside Paris, the branded City of Love, her days are spent missing her fiancé "like crazy." 

"On the bright side, I appreciate Max-Edward more than ever. I cherish every text I get from him," she said. 

According to estimates from the 2017 United States Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage for women was 27.4 years. Despite this being the average, three young women, among others at Central Michigan University are, wearing engagement rings and planning their weddings while still completing their undergraduate programs. 


In January, Lewis left for her expedition with a cluster of Rizer's clothes, her engagement ring and a designated hour for daily FaceTime sessions. Even the tiniest references to him repels loneliness, Lewis said, which helps significantly while trying to succeed on a different continent. 

The romance started in May 2018 after Lewis and her best friend took a Greek detour during a summer spent in Italy. Three miles from their hostel, Central's study abroad program "Greece: Foundations of Western Civilization" was taking place. The two girls hoped to meet up with "fellow Chips." 

"It's cliche, but I knew he was the one within 10 minutes of (our) first conversation. I didn't laugh very much before him, but the first time we ever talked he had me cracking up until my sides hurt," Lewis said. 

Lewis said she knew Rizer obviously liked her after he found the only vegan restaurant in Athens for their first date and hiked to drop a towel off at her hostel. She said the hilly journey was a "killer on the legs," and a clear sign of his interest in her. 

Holt junior Claire Lewis, bottom, poses for a photo with her soon-to-be husband Mason senior Max-Edward Rizer, top. (Courtesy Photo)

During the fourth weekend of October, Rizer took Lewis to Mackinac Island to see the cult classic, "Rocky Horror Picture Show." While audiences were dancing to the "Time Warp" in a hotel theater, he pulled Lewis on the stage and proposed to her. 

"Whenever people bring up my age, and question my maturity, I say: any and every relationship is a 50/50 shot. It either works or it doesn't, no matter how old you are or how long you've known each other. For a guy that makes me feel so on top of the world I am willing to take those chances," Lewis said.  

Lewis said no matter the age, wedding theme or circumstances of the relationship, love is about the individuals and what they desire most out of life. She said she was drawn to her relationship with Rizer because it promised a future of aspirations, adventure and a continuation to explore the world and each other. 

"He loves to watch stand up comedies, when most days I prefer a horror film. He drinks pumpkin spice lattes and I drink green tea. I am awful at board games and for some reason he is freakishly good at them," she said. "We have a lot more we need to learn about one another and our relationship, but I don’t think that will ever end." 


Genesee junior Allison Jacobs was tutoring a classmate in algebra in the seventh grade. She said although the boy teased her, and was about to relocate to Hawaii for his father's Army career, she couldn't resist having a crush on him. 

Blossoming love combined with middle school angst, Jacobs said she ignited the romance by punching Garrian Spohn in the back of his head. 

During their sophomore year of high school, Jacobs' soon-to-be husband returned from the Central Pacific. Although they dated on-and-off until the summer following Jacobs' freshman year at Central, they supported each other through both their parents' divorces and Jacobs' application process to the Honors Scholar Program. 

"A lot of people think of home as a place. For me, it's wherever I am with him. I feel everything with him that you should feel when you're home – safe, loved (and) happy," Jacobs said. "He makes me want to be a better person personally and academically. (That's) because I want to make him proud, even though I know he already is." 

Genesee junior Allison Jacobs, left, poses for a photo with her fiancé, Garrian Spohn, right. (Courtesy Photo)

Their engagement commenced with the tradition of seeking out and waiting on the father's approval, since Spohn first asked for it in December 2017. Jacobs said the wedding will be focused on tradition. Her engagement ring belonged to Spohn's deceased grandmother. They plan on spending an entire two weeks before their wedding day without any communication. They will be eliminating their ability to talk and see each other through social media and digital channels and will not make any appearances to one another until the rehearsal dinner. 

Spohn will walk down the church isle June 5, cathedral veil flowing behind her. Her grandpa has offered the musical performance he sang at Spohn's mother's wedding. 

She will walk down a church isle with a cathedral veil flowing behind her on Jun. 5, and her grandpa offers a musical performance sung at her mother's wedding. 

"Our goal is to provide an experience and ceremony that is very traditional and elegant and classy while being on a budget," Jacobs said, explaining the budget is to keep the total of wedding costs beneath $10,000. 


Cadillac senior Brianna Maturen is calling vendors and scratching off names on guest lists for her summer wedding. Her guest list includes the people who knew that her high school choir friendship with Zachary Utect, a Michigan Technological University junior, would bloom into a lifelong relationship. 

"We're only inviting family and close friends because we want to keep the guest count below 130 and catering costs can be quite expensive. If we're uncertain of whether or not to invite someone, we ask ourselves if we would notice their absence and if we would miss them," Maturen said. 

She said her relationship to Utect references her growth as a feminist and social activist. 

Cadillac senior Brianna Maturen, left, poses for a photo with her fiancé, Michigan Technological University junior Zachary Utect, right. (Courtesy Photo) 

"As I explored social issues and became more rooted in my identity as a feminist, we would talk for hours about male privilege, cultural appropriation, oppression of LGBTQ plus folks, sexual harassment and abuse and so much more," Maturen said, explaining how Utect offers unconditional support despite both coming from a "conservative area" known for not "supporting tolerance and acceptance of certain demographics and viewpoints." 

Utect proposed to Maturen last summer while exploring Dow Gardens in Midland. They found a small cove on the location and were dancing while the sun set. She said he suddenly dropped to his knees and proposed in a moment "that was so purely happy." 

"We're both practical people," she said. "With Zach being a year younger than me and attending a college eight hours (away), it didn't make sense for us to not have an idea of when we'd want to get engaged and have a wedding."


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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