In Oct. 2005, Elizabeth Grimm (GRD ’10) and Jacques Arsenault (COL ’01, GRD ’07) were married in Dahlgren Chapel. It was a beautiful, intimate ceremony with friends and family, followed by a reception in Copely Formal Lounge. As the night wore on, a group of uninvited guests joined the party. It included a pair of gorillas and a ninja turtle.
What else would you expect on Halloween weekend at Georgetown?
You may have heard an iffy statistic that 50, or 70, or even 90 percent of Georgetown students meet their spouses on campus, but there is little evidence to support this claim—it is likely a hyperbole, cooked up during NSO to titillate freshmen with the promise of companionship. The cynics among us may sneer, but the fact is that plenty of students do find love on campus. And when they decide to make it official (through marriage, not Facebook), many turn to Georgetown’s beacon of matrimonial bliss: Dahlgren Chapel.
Completed in 1891, the chapel was funded by John and Emily Dahlgren as a memorial to their deceased infant son, Joseph. It is the ninth oldest building on campus, and the first to be financed with private funds and given a non-Jesuit name. Though born of tragedy, Dahlgren’s simple yet elegant architecture and prime location in Healy Court has made it one of the most celebrated religious spaces on campus. It is this understanding of the space that has encouraged so many Hoyas to marry there.
As a corollary to the Hoya-cest factoid, there is another misconception that the chapel’s wedding wait list is obscenely long—multiple years long. This is another exaggeration, said Dr. Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault, as she’s now known.
“We found the process to be wonderfully handled. We were engaged in October 2004 and had no problem reserving the chapel for our wedding in October 2005,” Arsenault wrote in an email.
So, college Casanovas can relax. For Hoyas who have an eye on a fellow student but don’t plan on popping the question just yet, there is no need to put money down now. There’s no harm in planning ahead, though. That’s exactly what Kevin Mahoney (MSB ’06) did, a few weeks before proposing to now-fiancée Ashley Darcy (NHS ’06). Having heard the urban legend that there was a long line for reservations, Mahoney called ahead to ask about available dates, and was surprised at the number of options. Not too much later, the two were engaged and now are anxiously awaiting their big day in April.
The same romantic catalysts had a hand in bringing these couples together: Georgetown basketball and evening Mass. The Arsenaults, who still live in D.C. and have season tickets, make a yearly trip to see the Hoyas play in the Big East tournament. Mahoney and Darcy never dated in college, but found each other again while working for alumni committees and going to games.
“We reunited through Georgetown basketball,” Mahoney said.
As for Mass, Jacques Arsenault sang in the choir for the 8:30 p.m. Mass (since moved to 7:30 p.m.), which made returning for his wedding all the more special. A few years later Darcy was coordinating the 8 p.m. mass, and developed a spiritual relationship with Dahlgren.
“It felt like it would be most appropriate for me to complete the sacrament of marriage in the place where I feel the most Catholic,” Darcy said.
This, however, calls attention to the major restricting factor of marrying at Dahlgren. Even though the excessively long wait list may be a rumor, there’s no getting around the fact that one of the engaged parties must be Roman Catholic. Georgetown allows marriage services for all other religious persuasions in St. William’s Chapel in Copely Hall.
If marriage is a symbolic act designed to demonstrate a couple’s love, a Hoya marriage at Dahlgren is extra special. It represents shared experience and years of growth. Put simply, located at the heart of Georgetown, Dahlgren Chapel is the ideal location for those who want to keep Georgetown in their hearts.