A fall wedding – especially in the South – often means a few disgruntled college football fans missing a game, but one Aiken couple found a way to combine their love of football and their love for each other and were married at the Clemson football game on Saturday.
Bill Stephens and Vickie Desourdy tied the knot during halftime of the Clemson versus S.C. State game on Saturday. The wedding took place at the couple's tailgating spot behind Memorial Stadium in front of at least 60 guests, including their two children, with the roar of 83,000 fans and the strains of “Tiger Rag” in the background.
“He graduated from Clemson, and we both really love football and knew that we wanted to get married in the fall,” said Desourdy, a graduate of Penn State University. “We didn't want to interfere with football season.”
A friend of the couple who is a lay minister performed the ceremony.
Desourdy and Stephens wore orange Clemson football jerseys with the names “Bride” and “Groom” on the backs.
The wedding spread included barbecue and ribs, tiger paw cookies and a Clemson-themed cake complete with tiger ornaments, all surrounded by purple and orange decorations, Desourdy said.
After the ceremony, some went back into the stadium for the remainder of the game, which Clemson won 52-13. Others stayed and tailgated.
The couple originally wanted to have the ceremony on the sideline of the football field, but the athletic department denied their request. The tailgate was the alternate plan.
“We like football, and we just wanted everybody to come and have a good time. That was the goal, more than anything,” Desourdy said.
The S.C. State game would provide less complications with travel and parking for guests compared with other larger games at Clemson this year, such as the season opener against Georgia.
Desourdy said she and Stephens, who are both former military, met two years ago at a function for military officers. They realized they were both at a Clemson game before Stephens graduated in 1984.
“We sat pretty close to one another,” she said. They talked about a football wedding for about eight months and spent the last two months planning the festivities.
Angela Nixon, a spokeswoman for the university, said it's not often people get married at Clemson athletic events.
“We have people get married on campus at different places, but this is the first time I can recall it happening at a football game,” she said, adding that she has been at the school for 12 years but couldn't speak for the athletic department. “We've had people propose in the stadium. We wish them well, and we're happy for them.”
Desourdy said she and Stephens go to every home Clemson game.
Their game day wedding plans were met with surprise and enthusiasm.
“They said, 'Are you guys crazy?'” she recalled. “After that, everybody was really on board with it, and they're all football fans as well. They were wondering how we were gonna pull it off, but it worked out well.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
Submitted photo Aiken residents Vickie Desourdy and Bill Stephens bow their heads for a prayer during their wedding, which was held outside Memorial Stadium during Clemson’s game against S.C. State on Saturday.×
Submitted photo Aiken residents Vickie Desourdy and Bill Stephens exchange rings during their wedding ceremony, which was held outside Memorial Stadium during Clemson's game against S.C. State on Saturday.×