arriage. If you're like most people, it's something you do after years of courting, dating and falling in love. But David Weinlick isn't most people.

The U. of Minnesota anthropology grad student decided to do things backwards - he got married first and then got to know his wife. An untraditional way to observe tradition? You betcha.

It all started three years ago when a 25-year-old Weinlick grew frustrated with friends and family always asking him when he was going to get hitched. He decided then and there to pick a date - June 13, 1998. Too bad he didn't have a girlfriend, let alone a fiancée, when the big day rolled around.

In stepped his friends. They decided, with Weinlick's cooperation, to elect a bride for their pal. When the big day arrived, 25 single women arrived at the Mall of America (where the wedding was held), including an undercover reporter from the Minnesota Daily who was on hand to document the process. But it was U. of Minnesota pharmacy grad student Elizabeth Runze who took the cake.

"It was her mother who originally said to go for it," the groom says. And go for it she did. After saying "I do," Runze moved into the three-bedroom apartment Weinlick shared with two roommates. "People seem to think we're a warped, twisted couple or something," Weinlick says. "But we're leading a pretty much normal life. We're going to stay in school and get degrees and then one day raise a family and get a house."

Would he recommend an arranged marriage to others? "They'd have to figure out if it works for them as a person. They'd have to have a group of friends they really trust with the rest of their life. I'm lucky - I have a group of friends who understand and care about me," he says. "Even without getting married, that's the best thing you can have."

By Jeremy Taff, U. of Minnesota

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