Marriage at UT: Students Marrying Young

Cara Spoto walks down the steps of Plant Hall with her husband for the first time as husband and wife. | Photo courtesy Cara Spoto

“My husband is my travel companion, my study buddy, my rock, my number one supporter and motivator,” said Eliza Turrill, a senior English and writing major who said “I do” last March. “I can’t imagine being without him through all of these transitions in my life.”

Turrill met her husband, Alireza Bahramirad, who graduated from UT in 2012, during her freshman year in Residence Hall Council, and they have been together ever since. He is currently finishing his master’s degree in Chicago and Turrill said the distance has only made them stronger.

Though many have confronted Turrill with negative comments that college students have not reached the maturity level to have a conventionally successful marriage, Turrill thinks otherwise. “A lot of people don’t believe that you can ‘find yourself’ alongside your partner,” Turrill said. “A marriage is between two people and no one else. I try my best not to take in any negative comments about ‘being too young.’”

Ryan Chacon, a 22-year-old in the graduate business program, also got married last summer and describes being a young married couple as “so much fun.”

“I wanted to get married because I knew I loved her, and our relationship had stood the test of time and distance and hardship,” Chacon said. “It’s awesome and totally worth it.”

Chacon is a full time grad student, working 40 hours a week as a graduate assistant. “Life is crazy and it’s hard to balance, but it’s super fun,” Chacon said. “We are very happy and enjoy being married and are so happy we waited for each other.”

Chacon and his wife, Andrea, met in St. Louis during the summer of 2010 before he started college. They dated long distance for two years while he attended Florida State University. Andrea moved from St. Louis to Tallahassee while Chacon finished his final semester of college and they got married the following summer.

As a traditional man, Chacon asked Andrea’s parents before proposing, who gladly gave their blessing.

Chacon often undergoes judgement because of his young age but stands by his decision. “People think its pretty weird when I tell them this stuff,” Chacon said. “They think they are young and there’s so much more to life. They are respectful though, and you can tell they want something similar.”

While these newly wed college students are seen around UT, it also happens to be a beautiful wedding venue, attracting many alumni back to have their special day at UT. “We still get friends and family telling us how beautiful our wedding was,” said Cara Spoto, a UT alumna who works in business services as the Spartan Card coordinator at UT. “Our out of town guests stayed at the Sheraton and everything was conveniently located or within walking distance.”

Since both Spoto and her husband Sean Spoto are UT alumni, it seemed only natural to hold their wedding at UT.

The ceremony was held at the Plant Hall East Verandah directly on top of the stairs in front of the front fountain, where the rails were draped in fern garland and two ferns made up the alter.

“I think that UT is a great place to have a wedding because there is so much history. Each room in Plant Hall, whether it’s the Grand Salon, the Music Room or Fletcher Lounge, has its own unique beauty and character,” Spoto said. “Even the Vaughn ninth floor offers an unbeatable view of Downtown Tampa.”

Spoto’s 120 guests enjoyed a cocktail hour off to the side of the verandah, and the reception was later held in the Music Room of Plant Hall with all of the windows open. White table-cloths were on each table that were scattered throughout the inside and outside, and guests enjoyed a plate of chicken chardonnay. They later danced on the Music Room stage, set up as a dance floor.

Spoto was eligible for the employee rental rate and was only charged one rental fee for the two places she utilized. There was still a reservation fee for both rooms and a cleanup fee for facilities.

She did not receive any type of discount for being an Alumna.

Marcia Romero, also a UT alumna, held her wedding reception on the ninth floor of Vaughn in December of 2005. “I had my sweet sixteen at UT, my high school pictures taken at UT, I got my bachelor’s at UT so it just seemed natural to have my wedding at UT,” Romero said.

After looking around at various locations, Romero toured the ninth floor of Vaughn and fell in love with the large, open windows and the city views. “Since our reception was going to be around sunset, the views were spectacular,” Romero said. Romero also had about 120 guests at her reception.

Impressed by the fluency of the planning, cooperation with Sodexo and the beautiful settings, both Romero and Spoto highly recommend others to have future weddings at UT. “It was a great experience and made great pictures,” Romero said.

Kirby Jay can be reached at

Editor’s Note: When published Eliza Turrill and Alireza Bahramirad were married, but have since divorced. The article was updated April 19, 2018.

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