My name is Sarah Romig-Smith, and I had the best geek wedding that a bride could ever ask for.
Our very own Annie Molenaar, AKA Celebrant Lady Love, had the honour of sealing the deal on Sarah and David’s big, fat geek wedding. When Sarah and David first met with Annie they were surprised to discover her excitement at the prospect of delivering their ceremony. This is because up until that point, their journey had not been an easy one. Finding vendors who were openly supportive, encouraging and like-minded had proven a challenge in itself. But it was more than just that, it was Sarah’s own emotional journey as she struggled to push back at the most critical voice in her life: her own. She shares her story with us below.
Everyone believed that we were going to have a geek wedding.
I remember when my husband proposed to me, the evening before PAX 2015. He took me for a dinner at the Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne – there, he got down on one knee and opened a heart-shaped box. He asked me to marry him. He asked me to be his Player 2, his couch co-op buddy, his badass warrior. Of course I said yes.
My Player 2 colleagues were the first to really celebrate it with me, on a podcast a couple of days later. Of course they had big plans for my wedding. It should be at PAX, right? You should have cosplayers as your bridal party. You should have your first dance to Skyrim!
Today, I want to tell you all about my geek wedding.
If anyone had asked me four or five years ago “what would your wedding look like?” I would have been definitive. I would have told them that I would be walking down the aisle to the theme from The Avengers. I would have told them that our first dance would have been slow, and sweet, to Mario Kart Love Song. I would have had my best friend at my side – someone who I admired and adored – and we would have dresses designed with embellishments reminiscent of Captain America and Thor respectively. I would have been honoured to share that day with people in the comics and games industries. They had all be so wonderful and kind to me, and while I knew they were probably there for my partner, I knew in my heart that they cared about me too. It would have been filled with all of the things that we loved.
I turned 30 and everything changed. Unkind men had used me, and manipulative coworkers fed on my need for acceptance as I turned into a workaholic. Mutual friends shared my private feelings with their colleagues, and laughed. One of them called me a “missing stair”. I dealt with years of hate, self-hate, threats, paranoia, and anxiety – to a point where I stopped feeling anything and started being angry just to survive it all.
So when people asked me twelve months ago “what will your wedding look like?”, I couldn’t tell them. The only thing left of the wedding that I had always dreamed of ... was me.
“It’s so great that you want to have a geek wedding!”
Our celebrant Annie is an amazing person, but like all of the vendors that we met initially, she was a bit overwhelmed by the terminology and jargon that was so embedded in our lives. David and I adored her as soon as we met her though. It could have been the cheese, or the common sense, but it was definitely that she promised to tell our story. It was just the start of some of the uphill battles that we had in creating the wedding that we wanted, to represent us and the commitment that we had to each other.
It didn’t help me when I received messages via social media. For months I had people sending me pictures of elaborate cosplay wedding dresses, Zelda-inspired engagement rings, Mario invitation templates, and Avengers wedding cakes. I always tried to respond, and laugh at how awesome it would be, and share in the common language of our interests because I knew they cared in their own way. However, I always cried a little afterwards. I could never say it, but it reminded me of that world where I still felt like I stood on the periphery. It made me ashamed that I was not trying harder to make this a geek wedding. I felt like I was disappointing everyone and not meeting their expectations.
I had one moment of clarity and ordered sixty 20-sided dice as wedding favours, because I knew I wanted our guests to have something to keep. We had sent out invitations telling people “THE GALAXY NEEDS YOU!” and to join us because it was “TIME FOR ADVENTURE!” But even that invitation felt disingenuous, like we were playing a part that people were expecting us to play.
We would dance in the car to the SCV Love Song, but then we flinched at the thought of using it as our bridal waltz.
Three months before our wedding, I started having panic attacks. David and I had sought out all of these people to contribute to our wedding, and they were all supportive and kind. They promised to reflect who we were, but I couldn’t explain to them what that looked like. David tried to calm me and tell me that everything was OK, and I didn’t believe him. Once a week, I would freeze up and text my friend Melissa because I was scared that my dress was not a bride dress, and there was not a Triforce to be seen.
Everything was there, but I could not see how it all fit together. There had to be something that made it fit. It could not be this ... amalgamation of things that made a wedding. And the things felt so typical. There were no Protoss pylons or Animal Crossing figurines. How could it represent David and I without those things? How would people know it was actually about us?
As the weeks got closer, I kept telling myself that I had failed, and that all of those horrible people who had called me crazy were right. I only allowed myself to eat two meals a day, and worked furiously at my day job so I didn’t need to think about all of the unfinished wedding tasks that waiting for me when I got home.
Simon Pegg once said “Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy, and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection.”
If I had looked up that quote before 28 October 2016, I would have saved myself a year’s worth of anxiety and heartache.
My wedding day started at 8:30am on Friday morning when I went to EB Games at Indooroopilly and picked up my copy of Skyrim. By 10am, I was sitting at the hairdressers as the two stylists Mandy and Steph delighted in playing with my hair. They were focused, but they were having an amazing time as we all drank champagne and laughed about whether my hair would actually curl or not.
It continued until high noon when the florist Kelly turned up to deliver my bouquet and my hairpiece. She nervously held up a bouquet with antique roses and delicate blue tweedia to match my wedding dress. She then told me that David had a message for me, and did the funny wave that David always does. It was perfect, not because it was what I imagined, but because Kelly was so excited to share her work with me.
When I ran late and didn’t get back to Mom’s place until 2pm, it was the photographer Andrew who was laughing as he caught me running up the stairs, wearing a tanktop and a pair of shorts and little else. During my delay, he had been busy taking photographs of my shoes, the wedding rings, and numerous pictures of my best little man, Pippin Tiberius the budgie. He directed me into poses, but then did everything to make me laugh. And it was so easy to laugh. He caught hilarious and subtle moments between me and my brother, my mother and my father.
When the driver (his name was David too!) saw me leaving the house to walk down to the car, he ordered me to stand still so that he could roll out a red carpet and offer me a tray of dinosaur lollies. After a ten-minute joyride, he drove Dad and I up to the venue, and Annie met me at the car along with Hillstone’s wedding coordinator Susannah. They asked me if I was nervous, and I honestly could not remember a moment of feeling nervous – I had been laughing and smiling nearly all day.
And when I walked down that aisle, I barely heard the theme music to The Wind Waker - I just held onto Dad’s arm and saw David smiling right back at me.
But the one moment that I knew that this was our wedding, the wedding of David and Sarah, was when we returned to the reception after our photograph session, and through the doors I could hear the genuine laughter of 40 people, most of whom didn’t know each other but had found amazing things to love about each other.
Somehow, by happenstance, I had created a geek wedding. But not in the way that everyone anticipated.
My geek wedding was not about swords or pylons. We didn’t speak a secret language. We didn’t have a wedding stylist that matched everything elegantly like the magazines. However, our geek wedding was an opportunity for people to express what they enjoyed, and reminded them to be proud of who they were. Our geek wedding enabled a collection of amazing professionals to be enthusiastic and proud in their artistry. Our geek wedding allowed thirty nine adults and two children to marvel in their extraordinary passions and interests, and we celebrated every one of them. We joked, we told stories, we danced, and we liberated ourselves to show all of our emotions once again. It was the most hilarious day of my life, and not anything like I dreamed it would be.
My name is Sarah Romig-Smith, and I had the best geek wedding that a bride could ever ask for.
Celebrant: Celebrant Lady Love
Venue: Hillstone St Lucia
Blooms: The Bella Bloom Co.