Something borrowed, something red, yellow, and blue: Discovering Queen’s weddings

Love lingers even after graduation

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Some Queen’s alumni get married at the Isabel Bader Centre.

‘Be my valentine’ turns into ‘be my bride’ when planning a Queen’s-themed wedding to commemorate your undergraduate relationship.

Ashley Chow-Wun, ArtSci ’16, remembers “waking up this morning and somehow feeling like I was back in Kingston” as she celebrated her nine-year relationship with long-term partner Jake Nesbitt, Sci ’14, in an interview with The Journal.

Chow-Wun and Nesbitt have a two-year age gap and are from separate faculties, making it unlikely they would ever meet in a classroom setting. However, in her first year, Chow-Wun joined Queen’s chamber orchestra and ended up playing the same instrument as Nesbitt: the trombone.

Music gave way to sport when Chow-Wun joined the archery club. She saw another familiar face every week. Coincidentally, it was Nesbitt.

“It wasn’t like we met in class and hung out all the time. It was just the repeated crossing of paths that just by the sheer number of places we were led to talking more,” Chow-Wun said.

They danced around each other with friendly greetings and brief conversations. It wasn’t until Chow-Wun’s second year and Nesbitt’s final year that the two began to see each other in a romantic way.

With Nesbitt’s mind already set on graduation and plans to complete his master’s at the University of Saskatchewan, there seemed to be little time to begin a relationship.

Similarly, Chow-Wun didn’t see getting a boyfriend as a priority. Thus, the two only began dating in April 2014, during the winter term.

“We knew each other for a long time at Queen’s, but a lot of our story tends to be long distance and how we navigate it,” she said.

Late night calls and frequent texting became a normal part of their everyday routine as they meandered their first time being in a relationship with someone. There was a sense of the unknown between the two of them, which helped them because neither had expectations built upon past experience.

“This is our first time; we might as well see what’s going to happen,” Chow-Wun said.

Whenever he made the journey home to southern Ontario from Saskatchewan, Nesbitt visited Chow-Wun first, then his family. Time seemed to be against them, but they felt a sense of serendipity in the fact they would graduate from their programs at the same time.

“I had this hard deadline, but I had a motivation to finish in two years flat, and then that would line up with Ashley finishing her undergrad,” Nesbitt said.

They Skyped every day for two years, getting to know each other on virtual dates as they shared stories about their day.

“I think my parents, at least, had their doubts. I guess both parents did,” Nesbitt added.

This didn’t stop them, and they created a relationship in their own way, outside a need for physical proximity. When Nesbitt did come back to Kingston, they studied together in the Biosciences Complex, had picnics on Summerhill, and walked along the lake.

The couple got engaged last summer and are currently planning their wedding. They learned a lot in their relationship as they grew up together, they said.

“Being long distance really teaches you how to be your own independent person because you’re in a relationship but can’t do everything together. So, we had to have our own friend groups, our own hobbies, our own interests, but we still had our shared interests, which can be really good for couples,” Chow-Wun said.

Maybe there’s hope that first loves can last, especially if you talk every day for two years.

Wedding bells are ringing as flower-decorated cars whizz down the street, signalling the entrance of the long-awaited bride. Regina Ding, ArtSci ’17, and Cameron Henry, ArtSci ’16, described their secret elopement at Queen’s.

The two started dating in their second year, after meeting in first year and being friends for a while; they bonded over taking PSYC 100 in the summer together.

“We were suddenly spending a lot of time talking one on one as opposed to in a group and it evolved from talking about coursework to just hanging out and talking about ourselves,” Henry said in an interview with The Journal.

They got married in the spring of 2022, as April showers faded away and May buds began sprouting. They picked April 29 as their wedding day, right after exam season, so there would be fewer students around.

The couple got engaged in 2020, and with the COVID-19 pandemic well underway, they had a two-year engagement before their wedding day.

“We planned a big wedding day, and then just last year, at some point, we were like, do you want just get married?” Ding said.

Driving from Hamilton up to Kingston, the couple decided to start where they first began. With a minister, his wife, and a friend as a witness, they tied the knot where they met as teens: Queen’s.

After getting married beside the lake, the two walked around campus taking photos and exploring Kingston as they reminisced on their youth.

“We hadn’t gone back to Queen’s since we graduated. So, we both have really fond memories of Queen’s because it’s where we both met. We grew up alongside each other,” Ding said.

Gone are the dark days of having only Sharetea in Kingston—the first thing Ding and Henry did after taking photos was go downtown and drink bubble tea. Dressed in a pale pink dress and a suit and tie, they toured around to see what had changed and explored old haunts together.

The elopement was especially important to Ding because it was a form of harm reduction.

“Weddings are expensive, and you have so many moving parts and vendors that there’s more at stake for the wedding to go wrong. You have to play host for a bunch of people and make sure your guests are having a good time,” Ding said.

However, with a 10-minute Kingston wedding, they didn’t need to worry about the logistics. There were no negative feelings or stresses associated with the start of their marriage; instead, the wedding was positive and warm.

“After almost eight years together, suddenly, we’re going on to this next step. We’re sort of making these commitments to each other for the rest of our lives, and that hit me really hard. And it was great,” Henry said.

Brittany Maines, the special events coordinator with Queen’s Event Services, explained the nostalgia of Queen’s weddings and the sentiment of alumni returns.

Queen’s Event Services offers three wedding venues of choice: Ban Righ Hall, the Isabel Bader Centre, and the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Center. These venues are offered year-round, but Maines said student and academic programming come first for campus-held events.

Maines’ favourite part of coordinating weddings at Queen’s is seeing the couple’s vision come to life. There’s a sense of beauty and honour in being a part of such a momentous process, she said.

“We technically work with brides or couples up to a year or more in advance, so we get to know them,” she said in an interview with The Journal. “Witnessing the venue when they walk in for the first time is awesome.”

Maines’ biggest challenge thus far has been with COVID-19 and the issues surrounding rescheduling and booking for wedding venues.

“We had to find alternative dates or years to move the wedding[s] forward,” she said.

Now the wedding season is back in swing, and the weather is warming up, Valentine’s engagements are shooting arrows your way.


love, valentine's day, weddings

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Queen's Journal

© All rights reserved.

Back to Top
Skip to content