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Eagles Down the Aisle: Some BC Alumni Return to Campus To Get Married

On Monday night, 4,775 Boston College students received an email with the name of a fellow student who the Boston College Marriage Pact survey determined was their other half. 

Of course, many of these students won’t so much as meet up for coffee, let alone walk down the aisle together some day. 

But some people do find their other half at BC. And among that group, an even smaller portion return to BC to get married—there are six different University-affiliated wedding locations to pick from. 

For many alumni, getting married at BC is an obvious choice. After growing up in a BC family and meeting her husband at BC, Erin Linnoila knew she wanted to get married at St. Ignatius. 

“It’s always been a very special place to me and my family,” Erin, BC ’11,  said. “I knew especially because we met at Boston College, that it was even more special. And I grew up Catholic, so I really wanted to get married at St. Ignatius.”

Adam Paggi, BC ’07, also married his wife, Kim Paggi, at St. Ignatius. He said the parish was very flexible during the planning process, allowing the couple to bring personal elements into their ceremony.

“They were awesome with us bringing in a couple of priests who were close to us, and then Kim had a nondenominational minister who came,” Paggi said. “They were just super accommodating, very, very open, and they managed to allow us to really customize the wedding to reflect the day we wanted it to be.” 

The staff at St. Ignatius were helpful in the wedding planning process while still letting Paggi and his wife cater the wedding to their families, he said. 

“We wanted it to be representing both our families and our story, and BC was super on board with that which was great,” Paggi said.

St. Ignatius has its own wedding staff separate from Campus Ministry, according to Ellen Modica, campus minister for Catechesis. 

“We take care of the weddings that basically happen at Trinity Chapel, although occasionally we’ll do a wedding at the chapel at the School of Theology and Ministry,” Modica said.

In addition to these options, BC Events Management holds weddings at 2101 Commonwealth Avenue, The Connors Center, and The Dane Estate. According to Modica, these weddings are not sacramental Catholic weddings and therefore aren’t organized by Campus Ministry.

“You, as a Catholic, could get married wherever you want, but it wouldn’t be considered to be a sacramental wedding,” Modica said. “So BC offers that possibility, but they’re not within the Catholic Church, so we don’t have any responsibility for that.”

Those who choose to marry in the Catholic church are required to first participate in a marriage preparation course called Pre-Cana. Because of this, BC holds a marriage preparation program of its own, led by Tony Penna, Associate Vice President and Director of Campus Ministry. 

“It’s open to members of St. Ignatius parish who are planning to marry and people who have an affiliation in some way with Boston College,” Penna said. 

According to Penna, two programs are held each year—one in the fall and one in the spring—each with 15 to 20 engaged couples preparing to be married within the Catholic Church.

During the program, Penna said that engaged couples learn from married couples who present on different topics such as finances, communication, sexuality, and spirituality.

“They take a theme and then they reflect upon it, how they have experienced living the theme in their own married life,” Penna said. “So they talk from their own personal experience. They tell their story and the engaged couples are invited to listen in.” 

The program takes place at the 825 Centre Street building on Newton Campus, according to Penna. Returning to BC for the marriage preparation classes is exciting for former students, he said.

“It’s kind of like homecoming in a way,” Penna said. “It brings them back to BC in a very wonderful way.”

Penna said preparation is a vital part of the marriage planning process. 

“There is no greater thing that Boston College can do for a couple that’s thinking about marriage than to support them in their preparation for marriage,” he said.

Erin, who completed the program with her husband, said it gave helpful insight into how to foster a successful marriage. 

“They had real couples come in … who share their stories of common things you may run into from marriage and how to prepare to have a successful marriage,” Erin said. “It was just nice to hear from real people, real stories and their experiences.”

A lot of planning goes into having a sacramental wedding through Campus Ministry, Modica said.

“The first question would be whether they’re having a full Eucharistic liturgy—they’re having communion consecrated and receiving communion—or whether they’re having a wedding ceremony, which is considered to be a liturgy but is not a Eucharistic liturgy,” Modica said.

If the couple decides to have a Eucharistic liturgy, Modica said the next step is to plan out how many people will be receiving communion and what vessels to bring. She also said she talks to the bride and groom about what paperwork needs to be done, what readings to prepare for the ceremony, and how the procession will go.

“What I want to do is, by the time the bride and groom get to the rehearsal, we have talked through all of the things that need to happen,” Modica said.

Maura Scheve, BC ’13, and her husband John had their ceremony through Campus Ministry in Trinity Chapel and their reception at 2101 Commonwealth. According to Scheve, they were only the second couple to ever hold a reception at 2101 after hearing about the venue from a family friend. 

“We just went to see it because obviously I knew that the campus was so pretty and I know the area so well, and it was beautiful,” Scheve said. “We got to put a tent right over that back lawn, so it was really cool. It was a really nice venue.” 

Scheve and her husband were also able to book BC’s buses for transportation from the Trinity Chapel ceremony to the reception at 2101 Commonwealth. 

“We were able to book the BC buses as our transport because the students were gone,” Scheve said. “They weren’t really being used, and transportation is expensive, so we did the BC buses which was hilarious. That was so fun. Everyone loved that.” 

When it came to the music for his ceremony, Paggi said the staff at St. Ignatius was especially helpful, finding an organist and a trumpet player whose music ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the event.

“It was very regal having Kim come down the aisle with the organ and the trumpet,” Paggi said. 

When she works at weddings, Modica said she helps prepare the bride and groom to walk down the aisle. 

“I get to see the groom and wish him congratulations before I work with the bride at the back,” Modica said. “I see the bride right before she’s walking down the aisle, and I say ‘Are you ready? You look great.’”

Watching the excitement of the bride, groom, and their families is one of the best parts of her job, Modica said. 

“I always stand in the back as they’re walking down so I can look at them and say, ‘Congratulations,’ and I can see their parents who are very excited about all of this,” Modica said. “I’ve hopefully done my job well and made them feel comfortable, and they’ve just had a sacrament, and they’ve just gotten married, and that’s to be congratulated.” 

Getting married at BC is a full-circle moment for couples who met on campus. Paggi said the memories he and his wife shared on campus made their BC wedding even more special. 

“We had so many memories of how we started together there on campus,” Paggi said. “So to have those memories and then be able to create these real new core memories in the same spot that was already so special to us, it was amazing.” 

Erin also said returning to campus for her wedding was a full-circle moment for her and all her BC alumni guests.

“We might’ve been only one of the few that got married back at Boston College, so it was especially fun for all our friends,” Erin said. “It was really fun to have an excuse to come back to the college. People went off and took pictures in front of Gasson.” 

Erin’s husband Robert Linnoila, also BC ’11 said his wedding brought up many memories from his time at BC, making the experience particularly special.  

“That was a huge experience,” Robert said. “We have all these pictures around with us and our friends in places that really mean a lot to us specifically, which I think is unique, not just a pretty picture in a random city.”

Erin and Robert both said that getting married at BC made their wedding more meaningful. 

“It’s such a special place to both of us and just to be married there was even more special,” Erin said.

February 14, 2024