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A rivalry wedding: UND, NDSU families celebrating on game day

Matt Bonzer and Lexie Nims scheduled their wedding day for Saturday, only later to learn UND and NDSU scheduled a football game for that date. The couple's family have split allegiances to each school. (Submitted Photo)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Wedding guests are typically seated based on their relationship with the bride or the groom, but one local wedding will add a new twist to that tradition Saturday.

Matt Bonzer and Lexie Nims plan to seat guests based on their allegiance to the University of North Dakota or North Dakota State University football team, a nod to the unfortunate scheduling conflict that landed their wedding on the same day as the first game between the two rivals in 12 years. Bonzer and Nims both have degrees from UND and Bonzer's parents are supporters of UND athletics, but Nims' family members are NDSU fans.

"It makes sense to at least have a little fun with the idea," Bonzer said.

The snafu began more than a year ago when Bonzer and Nims were scheduling their wedding. One date, Sept. 19, seemed like a good one because they both like the fall and it fell between harvest seasons, which would help Nims' farming family. Bonzer added that it's easier for him to get away from work at Bonzer's Sandwich Pub when there isn't a UND athletics event in town.

"There was this date, Sept. 19, and UND didn't have a game scheduled, nor did NDSU have a game scheduled," he said.

Bonzer even had an expert consulting him: Grand Forks Herald sportswriter Tom Miller, who happens to be his best man. At the time, Miller thought it was unlikely that UND and NDSU would play that day, Bonzer said, so they planned for Sept. 19 in Grand Forks.

It was only some time and significant monetary investment later, and after NDSU's athletic director left for another job, did they learn of their mistake. Miller happened to be in a taxi in Las Vegas with the couple when he heard the news that UND and NDSU had scheduled a game on their wedding day.

"They were pretty cool about it," Miller said.

Indeed, the couple seems to be taking it in stride, as are their guests.

"I actually did get some crap from some close family friends who are also really big Bison fans who said, 'Oh we're not going to come to your wedding, we're going to the game instead,'" Nims said. "And their wives are usually hitting them on the shoulder saying, 'We'll be there.'"

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607
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