Little girls grow up dreaming of their big day, looking at the white dresses, and imagining their prince charming standing at altar, fantasizing about the way their dream dress will flow as they walk down the aisle toward the rest of their life. Senior Marie Thompson is experiencing the wedding process a little earlier than most soon-to-be brides: at age 18, she is marrying 21 year old, Navy Codey Whitney.
“Every time he comes home it’s seriously the best feeling. It makes all those months spent apart worth it. That’s when I realized I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. We just click,” Thompson said. With the average national marriage age at 27 for women and 29 for men, according to livescience.com, Whitney and Thompson will be nearly ten years younger than most U.S. citizens when they “tie the knot”.
The wedding will be at a friend’s grandmother’s property on Saturday, Jun. 14, 2014; the new Mr. and Mrs. Whitney will then drive to Virginia a few days later, and the distance between the couple will finally be over.
Thompson met Whitney when she was 13 and in the eighth grade. They started dating on Jul. 17, 2012. With almost two years under their belts, Whitney decided it was time to ask her to be his wife.
“My dad was so excited. My whole family really approves of him and they all love him. They all get I’m young; I get I’m young,” Thompson said. Whitney’s mother also agrees to their engagement and is very close to Thompson.
Whitney proposed over Facetime because he is currently in Virginia at Little Creek Naval Base, but he is going to officially propose when Thompson visits him in April.
As excitement, stress, and hope arises with wedding planning, Thompson has experienced a lack of support from some students at PRHS.
“People say I’m not gonna be able to enjoy my life or travel or anything but I’m like, ‘He’s in the military.’ All you do is travel,” said Thompson, who has spoken with Whitney about the engagement because of military restrictions, especially because they must be married to live together. “Even though I’m getting married young, I’m not ruining my life. I’m not pregnant, I’m not a partier, and I don’t do drugs. I’m getting married and moving. People think I’m ruining my life, but it’s just a beginning.”
Thompson’s maid of honor, senior Brylee Loya, has also seen students disapprove of the engagement.
“There has been so much negativity towards [the marriage] saying, ‘It won’t work out’ or ‘They’re too young,’ but they love each other and they don’t care… the [other students’] opinions aren’t needed,” said Loya, who is frustrated when people make comments. “My favorite part about them as a couple is that they act like best friends. I couldn’t picture with Marie with anyone else.”
Thompson’s close friends, seniors Alysa Hansen and Kayla Mcclintock, were very excited and happy when they heard about the engagement.
“[Marie and Codey] are so fun to be around…they are best friends. They aren’t that awkward couple; you aren’t the awkward third wheel and never see your best friend. They are two fun and funny people to be around, especially when they are together–they joke and laugh so much because they love each other,” said Hansen, who has known Thompson since she was born because their grandfathers and dads worked together.
Thompson and Whitney will be part of only 4.5 percent of marriages that occur in the ages of 18 and under according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but Mcclintock sees how Whitney and Thompson are set apart from other young couples.
“They are really strong, not like immature relationships in high school… They’re cute. It makes me smile just thinking about them; I’m so excited for them,” said Mcclintock, who has known Thompson since she moved to Paso Robles in November, and while she will not be in the wedding, will be wearing the same colored dress as the rest of Thompson’s closest friends.
While 2014 graduates are lighting off their summer, Thompson will be saying her vows, marrying the love of her life, and creating a new beginning.