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My Big Fat Geek Wedding

Well it finally happened. With the increase of wedding-themed reality shows, it was inevitable that a geek-themed wedding would merit its own installment. We follow Julian Roman and Mandie Bettencourt, who met playing Final Fantasy XII Online; she was a human ninja, he was an elven dark knight. This is not uncommon, as I explained in The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games:

Informational disinhibition can lead to a tight-knit community, as players share information much more intimately and quickly than they would in a similar face-to-face setting. RetroMUD's community is so tight knit that it's been responsible for some marriages. At least three couples met and were later married as a result of playing on RetroMUD. This isn't unique to RetroMUD either: 8.7 percent of male players and 23.2 percent of female players have had an in-game wedding (Glenday 2008: 184). And of course, I met my wife over a MUD.

Questing led to hanging out, which led to a proposal at a renaissance faire in February 2013. The theme for the wedding is Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones. This is a literal theme, not an "inspired" theme, a fact that will become clear at the actual ceremony.

Phil, Mandie's dad, and Meredith, Mandie's stepmom are involved in the wedding -- so it's probably reasonable to assume they paid for it, since Julian's family is barely mentioned. The wedding planner is Kristin Banta, which really means this is essentially her show.

The first castle they look as is The Hollywood Castle, the second is Lobo Castle. Lobo Castle wins out. For my wedding we chose Medieval Times' Lyndhurst Castle in New Jersey.

Kristin then brings in her brother, Brandon Hillock, a "Themed Event Expert." Mandie wants her girls to look elvish, while Julian wants to look rugged and regal. My wife's outfit was custom made and my groomsmen made all their own costumes. The wedding party makes a surprise appearance at a costume shop to help choose their outfits, with the exception of the best man -- who is actually a woman! Brandon asks the question: Will Samantha wear female armor? The show cuts away without an answer.

For the bride, JoEllen Elam steps up to the plate to provide an elvish dress. Meanwhile, Brandon brings Julian to Sword & the Stone arms and armor shop. Archive Rentals sets the decor. For entertainment, they choose a silt artist and contortionist. Which is interesting, since the stilt artist is never seen again, and is instead replaced by a fire performance. Instead of a rehearsal dinner, the wedding party has a cosplay bowling party. Samantha shows up dressed as comic superheroine Jubilee.

Everyone at the wedding is in costume, elven ears are attached, and anyone showing up not in costume gets one. Samantha is fortunately attired in female-warrior appropriate attire, which is a plus given the constant references to "saving" Mandie -- an accomplished businesswoman, cosplayer, and gamer.

The bride and groom are married in a handfasting ceremony. It's worth noting that at no point is any sort of officiant even discussed on the show. Then a Khal Drogo actor shows up to interrupt the wedding. Another actor as Legolas engages Khal Drogo in swordplay, before Julian finally takes the stage. I went through a wedding ritual in which I was knighted and my wife was named the royal lady of the event. Medieval Times features knights battling it out for our entertainment, although I wasn't allowed in the arena (like some people think, thanks to the movie "The Cable Guy"). Of course, our event didn't feature an animatronic dragon -- we had to settle for a wizard who set aflame the roasted chicken for our guests.

Overall, this was an interesting if decidedly extravagant affair that glossed over the tremendous cost of a wedding on this scale. My wedding was far, far cheaper and featured most of the same components (sans dragon). It didn't hurt that Mandie's wedding took place in California near Hollywood, that the bride is a very well-connected geek, and that a reality show was likely helping fund the bill. It would be nice to have more transparency as to how much a wedding like this cost, and more details as to the challenges in arranging this type of wedding with family and friends rather than just focusing on the wedding itself, but you can only do so much in an hour. We'll see if Syfy picks up the pilot as a series.

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