The decline of marriage has been a hot topic in media lately, but one area of matrimony that is on the rise: nerd weddings. As more folks marry for love and mutual interests (historically, reasons lower on the list of marriage requirements), new traditions are being forged along the way.
Read r-l; The wedding of mangakas Moyoko and Hideyaki Anno as seen in Insufficient Direction (Vertical, Feb 2014).
Women Write About Comics staffers share their experiences below, along with plenty of tips for those about to take the nerd wedding plunge.
Deciding on a Theme
Megan Byrd: Our family and friends are spread across continents between American and Australia, and we knew they would need time to save up for traveling no matter where we had a wedding. Since we were anxious to be married, my husband and I decided to first have a small ceremony with a few witnesses and then plan a destination wedding a year later. Knowing that our family might not be as excited as us about a fandom themed wedding, we made our small ceremony Star Trek themed. Four of our Trekkie friends joined us on Saturday, August 21st, 2010 on the bridge of Challengers Comics + Conversation in Chicago, IL while co-owner Patrick Brower performed the ceremony before a live webcam audience (family and friends watching from afar).
Ashley Schmuecker: Our theme is “geek chic” and the tagline is “all the fandoms.” Our colors are black, grey, and TARDIS blue. We are still in the planning process (our date is 5.10.15) and our venue for the ceremony is in the Star Theatre of the Science Center of Iowa. So, we are getting married in the geekiest venue we could find (apart from our local shop), complete with comic book posters, interactive rocket building stations, and a planetarium! The biggest fandom celebrated is Doctor Who, with ceremony influences from DnD, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Game of Thrones, Skyrim, and more. The wedding coordinator at SCI, Marti, is determined to get a flying TARDIS to make an appearance on the screen during our ceremony. My partner and I have no debate on which themes to include, so long as one of us super geeks out on it, we will find a way to fit it in.
Amanda Murphyao: We met when we were in high school, decided on the pirate and ninja theme shortly thereafter (or possibly before we started dating – this is debated), and stuck with it when we got hitched a few years later. After threatening everyone with the theme for years, they had clearly warmed up to the idea (based on nearly 100% participation, from babies to 90-year-olds). Moral of the story: obviously you should never regret decisions made for future you by your high school self.
Brenda Noiseux: When we decided to get married, my now-husband kept suggesting ridiculous wedding ideas. During that time, a friend sent us Firefly and from the start we loved it. Eventually one of us suggested a costumed Firefly wedding and we were all in from there. And by all in, I mean having all guests dress as Firefly or sci-fi characters, getting married by Princess Leia in front of a full-sized TARDIS and having guests chant “so say we all” during our ceremony among other fun things.
Balancing tradition with a nerd wedding
Megan B.: Having done both, I can say without a doubt that the Trek wedding was significantly easier to plan! There were no traditions to consider and incorporate, our friend and officiant Pat picked the readings and music, and the only real cost was in creating homemade starfleet uniforms. Of course less planning meant less of everything – no reception, no guests, and it was over in about half an hour. Our destination wedding was where we celebrated with friends and family while wearing the white and cutting a non-Borg cube shaped cake.
Ashley: Well, this is interesting because my partner is an atheist and I am eclectic, although many of my spiritual views align with Paganism or Hinduism. So, the readings from our ceremony will be comprised of quotes from our favorite literature, films, and video games (see listing of fandoms above!). Our vows we are modifying from this article on “relationship science,” and then adding a few of our own heartfelt and/or humorous lines at the end. For example, “I promise to remain more intelligent and successful than you.” I am still trying to figure out how my dad and step-dad will walk me down the aisle, since there is no aisle in our ceremony venue. The reception will be much more traditional with the first dance, dollar dance, bouquet toss, etc. Yet, each table will be decorated as a different theme (GoT, LoTR, Battlestar, Doctor…). Other specifics like rolling a D20 for the bride and groom to kiss rather than ringing bells and comic book favors will be geeky twists on traditional expectations.
Amanda: We did ye olde Catholic ceremony in a little church built on the south side of Chicago by Quebec bricklayers who stole busted up bricks from their place of work (go team!), followed by a pirate and ninja ceremony at a state park. The formal wedding felt more like cos-playing, even though I wasn’t the one who got to sport the top hat / gloves / cane accessories. Amusing side note: my formal white wedding dress cost $25 at a thrift shop, and the red velveteen for my Grandma-made pirate coat was $125 (buttons were extra!). Priorities!
Brenda: We weren’t too concerned about being non-traditional, as no one expected us to do the church-frilly-gown-plated-chicken wedding thing. The few exceptions we made were for my mom; like sending save-the-dates, albeit geeky ones, or my white wedding gown. I bought a sample gown off eBay for $20 plus shipping and changed into it for my barbecue dress, so as not to get my real wedding dress, Inara’s Jaynestown dress, messy. I surprised my husband, who said “What the hell is that?” when he saw me come out but my mom was beaming. Priceless.
Tips & Inspirations
Megan B: So many brides and grooms find the wedding planning process stressful because a lot of what goes into a wedding can feel obligatory. Loved ones are quick to offer opinions about what you should do and who you should hire. Chances are, very few family members will add their two cents in the debate deciding between original series and DS9 uniforms. Besides eliminating much of the unsolicited advice, a nerd wedding also makes a lot of decisions easier by default. Having a Trek wedding? Depending on the series, you’ll have a ready made color scheme, dinner menu, and plenty of decoration ideas. Those wedding Pinterest boards fill up fast when the sky’s the limit–a fandom themed ceremony can make it a lot easier to refine your vision. It also makes everything more personal when your decisions are based on your shared passions rather than what you think your bridesmaids will look good wearing.
Ashley: My inspirations are stored on my pinterest board (named for our new surname), “Grey.” Like Megan said, picking a specific fandom really helps narrow down decor ideas and color themes! Honestly, just type “geek wedding” in the search board of Pinterest and inspiration is everywhere. I am still in the planning process, so I don’t feel I have much to offer in the way of tips just yet. Although, Offbeat Bride is an excellent resource!
Amanda: It’s trite, but don’t worry–be happy. The only people who were mildly (or extremely) disturbed by the thematic reception were the very confused DJs and my grandma, who hauled off four of my cousins for a stern, pre-dinner talking to, because they were wearing suit jackets, of all things! My poor cousin Mike came over during dinner to apologize for their non-ninja outfits — but all was reconciled with Grandma when the dance floor opened up and the cousins appeared in full-body rented Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. (They wouldn’t have been able to eat dinner while wearing them, since the costumes included giant head component and huge furry green mittens.) We ended up with a TMNT-themed dance-off, as a few other groups had gone as turtles, and it was really fun! A wedding reception is just an elaborate, expensive party, so have fun. Anyone who tries to give you lip about it should probably be uninvited.
– We painted pirate boat birdhouses from Michael’s and attached plastic ninjas (ordered by the gross from Oriental Trading) for our centerpieces, and it’s still fun to find out who got to take one home when we see them in people’s living rooms. (By “we painted” I mean “I recruited my friends to paint” because the spouse was “busy.” By “busy” I mean “playing video games constantly.” Our marriage is rock solid.)
– Each table had a scavenger hunt form and disposable camera. This encouraged visiting amongst the tables (ie “go take a picture of all the nurses you can find at this wedding!” involved visits to multiple tables with nurses, and “get a photo of your entire table with the bride and groom!” meant we got photos with all of the attendees even though we didn’t hire a photographer).
– We had all ages games and party favors available for babies, kids, and the non-dancing set.
– For the churchy part, we used wooden roses so the bouquets and bouteniers were ready about 6 months in advance, and all of the bridesmaids had a party favor (in addition to the pirate purses I sewed for them because I am a glutton for punishment). The roses looked great in the photos and I still have my bouquet, too. (I got the idea for this when the flowers a friend had ordered from Brazil got stopped in customs and we had to spend the morning of her wedding running around to different grocery stores and assembling bouquets ourselves.)
Brenda: Have a focal point for photos. My husband built a full-sized TARDIS and that thing was a photo magnet; everyone wanted to get a photo in front of it. We have so many great geeky photos of everyone with someone specific to our wedding.
Set up a photo share site before your wedding and let guests know before the wedding; we sent a notice with our invites and ended up with over 2,000 photos.
When you’re stuck in a creative rut, never underestimate the power of a Google image search. There are so many great ideas already out there. Type in your thoughts and off you go. I also checked out Offbeat Bride, Pinterest and Etsy for added creative omph.
On dealing with other people’s opinions about your wedding: Figure out what you want as a couple and make that happen. The most important part for us was sharing our love and life with our family and friends. Every detail stemmed from that, from the free chairs I rescued for seating to the takeout food from all our favorite restaurants and to our walking together down the aisle. When you know why you want to do what you want to do, other people’s squawking and negative opinions don’t matter as much.