For senior Hala Baidas, turning 18 did not just mean registering to vote or buying a lottery ticket. Instead, she used her newly-obtained adulthood to get married.
“I just wanted to get married for fun,” Baidas said. “I thought that it would be cool to do for my 18th birthday and I don’t know anyone who’s ever done this.”
Baidas said she did not have a spouse in mind.
“It was kind of whoever said ‘yes’ because I know it’s a lot to ask from them,” Baidas said.
After asking seven people, senior Ethan Fulcher finally agreed.
“I only really knew Hala through work,” Fulcher said. “I heard this mentality somewhere that if you can’t help someone achieve their dreams, get out of the way, but if you can, help them. Hala had this dream, and I could help.”
Seniors Sam Devin and Soven Bhagat began to plan in October, helping Baidas craft a website where guests could RSVP and read about the bride and groom.
Bhagat said they also designed invitations and spent six hours baking a three-tier wedding cake.
“I knew there was no way to stop Hala from [getting married], so we had to get involved to make sure it didn’t go completely off the rails,” Bhagat said.
The planners said they originally wanted to design Baidas’ wedding dress themselves, but found the fabrics to be too expensive. Instead, Devin said they went to Unique Thrift Store and found an old wedding dress.
“We used the skirt from that wedding dress and had a friend who’s going to fashion school next year make the top,” Devin said.
Despite the cold weather, the mock ceremony took place on Jan. 18 in a gazebo at Meadowlark Gardens. Senior and newly-ordained minister Alex Nazari led the service.
“I went online and searched up ‘how to get ordained’ and saw a website that said ‘get ordained in 30 seconds,’ so I [filled out a form], paid 30 dollars and got ordained,” Nazari said. “I didn’t know how to actually officiate the wedding until 30 seconds beforehand, when I Googled ‘how to officiate a wedding.’”
Following the exchange of vows, guests headed to Marshall Mc for the reception, where Devin and senior and best man Noah Hassett shared their toasts over McFlurries and French fries.
“What I’ve learned from [this experience] is that Hala is insane,” Devin said. “I think [the wedding] gave the senior class something to look forward to, especially during the first semester when everyone is struggling with college.”
Baidas and Fulcher decided against signing a legal marriage license due to complications with the college application process. Their marriage only lasted 72 hours.
“I was originally going to buy a fish [to celebrate turning 18], but I realized I wouldn’t be able to take care of it and would kill it,” Baidas said. “I thought ‘I’m okay with ending a marriage, but not killing a fish.’”