While many students are away from campus during the summer, the Bone Student Center (BSC) hosts numerous weddings and receptions, reoccuringly for people who met here at ISU.
“Many tell us we are ‘the best-kept secret in town,’” Kimberly Ummel, food serving administrator for the BSC, said.
Weddings during the school year are restricted to five in the fall semester and five in the spring semester.
There are a limited number of days for weddings during the academic year because the Bone does not want to take away from student activities, Barb Dallinger, associate director of event logistics and life safety at the Bone, said.
“Summer is the best season for that,” Dallinger said.
Dallinger declared May to August as the season when the Bone is busiest with wedding events. The weddings are booked far in advance — some up to two years.
As recently as last June, the Bone put on at least one wedding every Saturday, occasionally up to three on the same day. Weddings and receptions are often held in the Prairie and Circus Rooms, the Brown Ballroom and Old Main — sometimes simultaneously.
“Most of our weddings are with alumni or friends of the University, so it is nice for the bride and groom to have an emotional connection to the building,” Sarah Johnson, event specialist, said.
Nearly all of the Bone’s wedding bookings come from referrals. Many of those who look to have their weddings held at the Center have already attended a reception there.
“The rooms totally transform themselves and it’s wonderful to stand at the front door as guests walk in,” Ummel said.
“Our customers and their guests are truly impressed. Our brides and grooms spend at least a year planning and when they walk into their receptions they can’t believe how wonderfully it all comes together.”
Johnson also noted the unique feel and different-sized weddings from each of the rooms.
“A lot of our couples are really creative and individualize the spaces to make them special,” she said.
Every couple gets the chance to personalize their wedding. Couples have asked for luxuries such as hot chocolate bars, taffy apple bars, mashed potato bars and signature drinks. One year a reception had goldfish races.
“We have had couples bring in bars made completely from ice, candy tables, a Rod Stewart impersonator, t-shirts for the servers, amazing centerpieces that are so large they barely get through the doorways, fence railing and a horse and buggy cart,” Ummel said.
“You take away a new idea from every reception,” she added. “It just helps us get better and better.”
For Campus Dining Catering, the first reception in the Bone was July 2002. The most recent reception was in the Brown Ballroom on Jan. 4, with a winter wonderland theme.
The Bone has been averaging 21 wedding receptions per year. The center also does two to three wedding receptions per summer at the ISU affiliated location of Ewing Manor.
Overall, the weddings have ranged from 400-person Ballroom weddings to intimate 50-person Circus Room weddings.
Ummel, who has been helping to create these events since 2002, recognizes all of the people she works with, and is grateful for them all.
“A great staff with an eye for detail and a willingness to really listen to help the couple bring their dream to life,” Ummel said.
“Everyone has their own vision and it’s a lot of fun to help them achieve it.”