Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Willard Straight Memorial Room on Sept. 9, 2021.

November 16, 2022

A Big Red Love Story: Alumni Hold Vow Renewal Ceremony On Campus 

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Rebecca Bisland ’10 and Matthew Bisland ’09 met at Cornell as fellow students in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. They were married in a small ceremony after graduation but decided, over ten years later, to return to Ithaca and renew their vows.

On Oct. 22, the Bislands held a vow renewal ceremony in the Willard Straight Memorial Room. The weekend and the ceremony were full of Cornell touches from a performance by The Cornell Hangovers to a surprise appearance by Touchdown the Bear.

“We had always wanted to do a Cornell wedding and I remember seeing brides on campus when I was a student,” Rebecca Bisland said. “It seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our marriage.”

The Bislands were originally married in 2010 and planned to hold a vow renewal ceremony at Cornell in 2020, but had to reschedule due to the pandemic. 

According to Matt Bisland, it was important to the couple that their vow renewal ceremony occur close to their actual anniversary date.

“It’s more common to have weddings during the Fall Break,” Matt said. “Our anniversary is Oct. 24 so we wanted to do [that] weekend.”

Cornell’s Ithaca campus is a popular wedding destination, with some of the most popular venues being Sage Chapel, Anabel Taylor Chapel and Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room and Terrace, where the Bislands held their ceremony.

The Bislands said they were excited to use Cornell’s other iconic locations for photos, especially since they had never been to any of these locations all dressed up. 

“We had a lot of fun doing photos around campus actually, we did some at A.D. White library, which is just such a beautiful place,” Rebecca Bisland said. “We had a lot of fun traipsing around, me in my dress and Matt in his tux and then all of the students dressed casually for class!”

In addition to the vow renewal ceremony in the Memorial Room, the Bislands hosted other gatherings throughout their wedding weekend to celebrate, including a welcome reception at Argos in Ithaca Commons and a brunch at the Statler Hotel.

“When you’re on campus and walking around every day, there are so many beautiful things that you just walk past them because you’re on your way to class or you see them every day,” said Rebecca Bisland. “Coming back after being off campus for a few years, you start to appreciate things in a different way.”

Although the weekend was particularly special for the happy couple, it was also a chance for their Cornell friends to enjoy being back in Ithaca. 

“We have a number of our Cornell friends coming and some of them have been coming back and some haven’t been back on campus,” said Matt Bisland. 

Rebecca said the couple was lucky to host the ceremony during such a beautiful time of year in Ithaca. 

“If you’re going to choose a time to come back to Cornell, at the end of October when all the leaves are changing is really absolutely spectacular,” Rebecca Bisland said. “People were amazed by just how beautiful the campus is.”

In addition to the venue, the Bislands incorporated Cornell touches through every element of the renewal — including some that were a surprise to their guests. 

“My favorite part having Touchdown come in, I don’t think anyone expected it,” Rebecca Bisland said. “People really got a kick out of that and he danced with us and took some photos so I was really happy with that.”

In addition to Touchdown and The Hangovers, the ceremony’s Cornell theme included a red and white color scheme, a McGraw Tower-shaped cake and a performance by the Cornell Chimesmasters as guests walked into the Memorial Room. 

The Bislands said that it was important for them to return to Cornell to celebrate their marriage.

“[Cornell] is where we met our best friends in the world, where we met each other, where we fell in love, and where we started our adult lives,” Rebecca Bisland said. “So I think for us, Cornell will always be a very special place and we’re always so happy to be back on campus.”