Currents Magazine - Fall 2005 > Back Issues > Currents Magazine - Fall 2004 > Weddings in the Gazebo
Weddings in the Gazebo
Story by: Currents Staff Writer
"You may kiss the bride" is a statement which can now be heard from the center of Winona State University's campus.
A new addition to campus, the Alumni Gazebo, welcomed wedding nuptials for the first time this past May. WSU Spring 2004 graduates, Brian Northam and Natalia (Nisha) Papaconstandinou, tied the knot in the gazebo May 29. Nisha said the Alumni Gazebo was a perfect place to hold the ceremony.
"It was convenient because we come from different religious backgrounds," said Nisha.
Nisha, who grew-up in Athens, Greece, and Brian, a native of Winona, first met seven years ago at Cotter High School where they both were enrolled in college preparatory classes at the Minnesota Math and Science Academy.
The romance continued throughout their college career at WSU. On one cool November evening in 2001, Brian proposed in Greek to the woman he loved. He learned the words "will you marry me" from Nisha's brother, Galen.
When the wedding plans began, there was not a doubt in Nisha's mind as to the type of ceremony she wanted.
"I always wanted an outdoor wedding," said Nisha. "I liked the open feeling, the blue sky and the flowers. It just felt so romantic."
The Alumni Gazebo became an option for a wedding site after the couple learned from Brian's mom, Karen Northam, assistant to WSU President Darrell Krueger, that a gazebo was going to be built on campus. The president wanted to start hosting weddings in the facility.
"I knew Brian and Nisha were searching for an outdoor site to hold the ceremony," said Karen, "so I was delighted to share with them the news that a new Alumni Gazebo was being planned for our campus."
Nisha researched holding their wedding at the WSU Alumni Gazebo. The couple decided the gazebo-setting at WSU was the perfect place to exchange their vows because of how much they both valued education.
"We looked into other sites for outdoor weddings in Winona," said Nisha, "and when we heard about Winona State's gazebo it rose quickly to the top of our list."
The Alumni Gazebo, constructed in the fall of 2003, is a gift from the classes of 1954, 1958 and 1959. The 20-foot wooden octagon-shaped structure is located between Phelps and Gildemeister Halls. There are benches inside the gazebo, as well as Ethernet ports, and flowers decorate the exterior of the building.
President Darrell Krueger hopes weddings in the Alumni Gazebo become a tradition on the WSU campus.
"I think it helps tie alumni back to campus," said Krueger. "There are many alumni who have met their spouses while attending Winona State University."
WSU has documented 2,500 to 3,000 alumni who are married to other WSU alumni. Ann Kohner, assistant to the vice president for University Advancement, schedules the events at the Alumni Gazebo.
"The Alumni Relations Department plans on having a sweetheart reunion at the gazebo," said Kohner, "to involve people who have met at Winona State and have gotten married."
She says married alumni will be welcomed back for a special event to see the gazebo for themselves. Kohner believes the gazebo adds to the beauty of the campus.
"I like it because it gives the campus a serene, peaceful feeling," said Kohner.
As the first couple to exchange vows under the Amish-inspired structure, Brian was excited that he and Nisha started the tradition.
"It is a beautiful place to hold a wedding ceremony," said Brian. "Getting married on the same campus where we spent so many years getting to know each other better has significant meaning to us both."
Last Modified: Thursday, December 02, 2004 12:40 by Rhone Richard