By Rachel Stengel
Wearing a white, one-shouldered ruffled gown, Lynn Brown, ’07, walked down the aisle of Gill Chapel on Sept. 13, 2013 to marry the man she has loved for nearly 15 years. On this day, she would become Mrs. Lynn Ucci.
Ucci was able to celebrate the occasion at a place that she cherished and even interact with some of the current students.
“Since the chapel is right near the sororities and fraternities, there were a lot of people around campus because our ceremony was during school,” Ucci said. “My husband’s grandmother took photos with the fraternity guys who were out there having a barbeque. Those were some of the best photos from the wedding.”
Photo shoots with fraternity brothers aren’t included in most ceremonies, but weddings on both campuses have been a tradition for many years. On the Lawrenceville campus, weddings have occurred for more than 25 years in Gill Chapel. Historically, weddings have taken place for years in Bristol Chapel on the Westminster campus, but have recently stopped because of lack of availability, according to Brittany Perkins, manager of events and conferences.
Typically, three to five weddings per year happen on the Lawrenceville campus and they are usually held in the warmer months, Perkins said. Receptions can take place on campus as well. Many occur in the Cavalla Room, but any space on campus is available for receptions, such as the Fireside Lounge and the Mercer Room.
Couples that hold Rider in their hearts can rent Gill Chapel for their ceremony at a price of $309 per day. They can also reserve the Cavalla Room for $1,125 or the Fireside Lounge for about $500 for their receptions. Rider staff, students and alumni receive a 25% discount off the rental fee, according to Perkins.
Mr. and Mrs. Ucci
Ucci graduated with a journalism degree with a multimedia track. She never wanted to go to any other college and enjoyed her experience so much that Gill Chapel instantly came to mind when selecting a wedding location.
“I actually decided I wanted to get married at Rider before even going and looking at the chapel,” Ucci said. “I remembered it. I was in there a couple of times while I was at school. Years later, I was like, ‘Let’s just do it. I want to book it without even coming to see it.’”
Lynn Ucci met her husband, Vincent Ucci, through his cousin who was her best friend in grade school. Though Vincent Ucci was not a Rider student, he still had memories of Rider as well.
“He always visited me when I was at Rider, so when I said, ‘I think it’s a good idea to have the wedding there,’ he was all for it,” Lynn Ucci said. “He liked the campus as well.”
Mr. and Mrs. Janes
Dr. Barry Janes, professor of communication, married the beautiful woman he saw across the room
at a Christmas party many years before on May 25, 2001, in Gill Chapel.
Janes had crossed paths with his wife, Mary Anne Esposito, a few times before he became her husband through mutual friends and her family members.
“It turns out that early on when I would go to Christmas parties at this person’s house, she was there and we would pass in the hallway, but we never really spoke,” Janes said. “I often tell her that I remember asking my friend who that beautiful woman was.”
Janes was friendly with Esposito’s brother whom he would play cards with on a regular basis. He even met her children and ex-husband before he interacted with his wife-to-be.
“It was one of those things where her brother and I were talking at a card game and he mentioned that his sister just got a divorce,” Janes said. “So I asked, ‘Would your sister be interested in going out to dinner and drinks?’”
Both Janes and Esposito were recently divorced, but he wasn’t particularly interested in becoming married with children. He just wanted to have dinner with her to see what would happen.
“A couple years later I was married with children, which was a new experience for me, as I never had children in my first marriage,” he said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.”
Janes has been a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism for 28 years.
“Rider was just such a big part of my life, being the place that I worked, but it was kind of an anchor for a long time,” he said.
Rider allowed Janes to assemble his friends, family and many co-workers from the department for the special occasion. One even played the piano as the bride walked down the aisle.
“We weren’t strongly affiliated with any particular church, so I thought that the chapel on campus was wonderful, a great place for people to gather,” he said.
Janes’ stepson, Michael Esposito, was his best man, while his stepdaughter, Marissa Esposito, was the maid of honor. Janes reflected on a memorable moment with his new stepson prior to the walk down the aisle.
“You’re kind of separated before the ceremony while the bride’s getting ready,” Janes said. “My stepson and I were in a room joking around. It was a very good time. I know sometimes when you get into those situations, especially with kids, you’re the interloper. But there was none of that going on.”
Mr. and Mrs. Yu
Jennifer Park-Yu, assistant bursar, has worked at Rider for eight years and is currently finishing her master’s in organizational leadership. She married Ryan Yu on May 11, 2013, in Gill Chapel. The couple celebrated their union in the Cavalla Room along with friends, family and co-workers from the Bursar’s Office including Drew Armando, executive director of One Stop Services, and Dennis Levy, director of Financial Aid.
“It was very special to me,” Park-Yu said. “These people are like family to me.”
Park-Yu met her husband through his mother. She claims Yu’s mother fell in love with her and arranged their meeting. Yu’s mother was selling furniture because she was downsizing her house and Park stopped by to look at what she had for sale. Instead of a good deal on furniture, she walked away with her future husband.
“The funny thing is I never picked up the furniture,” Park-Yu said.
Park-Yu chose Rider for her ceremony and reception because she wanted to be in a place that she holds dear.
“Rider has a lot of meaning to me,” Park-Yu said. “I’ve made a lot of great friends while I was working at Rider. I wanted my wedding location to be as meaningful as possible. Gill Chapel is very beautiful and the campus itself is really pretty around May.”
After the I do
The wedding wasn’t the end of the milestones and celebrations at Rider for Janes and his family. Both his stepchildren attended Rider and graduated in the same class.
“We’ve become a big Rider family from getting married to the kids coming here,” Janes said. “My daughter just recently had a baby and one of the first things I did was I went out and bought a Rider onesie. Keep the tradition. Maybe he’ll come here as well.”