Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Please just get me to the church on time

April 6, 2006

Natalie Schmidt's dream day was almost ruined by weather.

Fortunately, the Baldwin High School counselor was able to move her wedding to Baker University, after the University of Kansas announced Danforth Chapel would be closed until August.

"I was definitely just happy to find a place, but (Osborne Chapel) is really gorgeous and very pretty inside," Schmidt said. "Going in there made me feel a lot better, with all of the space downstairs."

Danforth was damaged in the storm that hit Lawrence March 12. That forced KU to cancel all weddings until August.

Schmidt and her fiance, Jeff Konkel, received the news they would have to move their June 3 wedding on March 22, during Schmidt's spring break.

"I got a call that morning from KU and I kept the message for a while, because the message was very impersonal," Schmidt said. "I was kind of taken back a little bit by that."

Originally, Schmidt -- a KU graduate who lives in Lawrence and is in her first year at BHS -- wanted to keep her wedding in Lawrence. But, the bride-to-be couldn't find a place that suited her, so she turned to Baker University.

"I ran around for the rest of the week to scout out our possibilities," Schmidt said. "We were initially set on doing something on campus. When that didn't work out, we looked around at other places in Lawrence that had the same feel and were little.

"I had thought about Baker early on, but I thought there was no way that it's available," Schmidt said. "That day seems to be a popular wedding day. We called and left a message just in case. Luckily it was available. We kind of lucked out there."

Baker University minister, the Rev. Ira DeSpain, said he was more than willing to help those in need.

"I am really happy," DeSpain said. "The chapel here is to be used for the public good. It's a place for students to worship, but it's also available to the public. We are glad we are available to help."

Schmidt said Baker was very cooperative with her.

"Ira DeSpain has been really helpful in allowing us to have it there," Schmidt said. "They have worked with us on the fee. Baker has been very helpful and accommodating."

Schmidt's wedding is only one of many that has been moved from Danforth to Baker.

"We have picked up nine weddings, that are in the scheduling process," DeSpain said. "Those were to be at Danforth Chapel. The news report said they had to cancel 50 at Danforth, so we don't know how many of that total we will get."

DeSpain said Baker only had one problem with scheduling, but it was minor and easy to fix.

"We haven't had any trouble yet with double bookings or anything," DeSpain said. "Every day people have requested has been available. One wedding had to change its time, but it's still on the same day. We have been lucky so far with scheduling."

The wedding changes have even drawn the attention of a couple Kansas City news stations, which interviewed DeSpain and Schmidt.

"It was very nerve racking," Schmidt said. "I felt like I had to pick apart everything that I said. I really don't like being on television so much."

DeSpain said the damage to Danforth has benefited Baker in a few ways.

"There are a lot of things the university does and it's interesting that this gets coverage," DeSpain said. "The story is the storm damage at KU and Danforth Chapel is going to be closed for a while. They main interview was not with me, but with one of the brides who has been displaced and found us.

"Of course, we didn't plan the storm," DeSpain said. "The fact that this year is the 10th anniversary of the chapel on campus is special also."

The Lawrence Journal-World has also published two stories on the wedding changes, along with one letter to the editor that thanked Baker University.

DeSpain can be reached at the Osborne Chapel at (785) 594-4553.

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