Emmalyn & Gavin's gender-neutral, LGBTQ-friendly, Renaissance Festival wedding

By on Jun. 24th

On the fourth day of Pride Week, we will travel to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Where Emmalyn & Gavin, who identify as gender queer, celebrated their nuptials with a joust! – Coco

Bubble celebration!

The offbeat bride: Emmalyn, Social Work Student

Her offbeat partner: Gavin, Mathematics Student

Location & date of wedding: Arizona Renaissance Festival in Apache Junction, AZ — February 14, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We both identify as genderqueer in one way or another, and we go to the Renaissance Faire every year…so this was perfect for us! We dressed in period costumes, and so did many of our family members (we encouraged 15th-17th century wear, but didn't expect such a great response). Our family and friends continue to surprise us with their generosity and love.

The whole goal of our wedding was to have fun, and help our guests have fun too. I think we succeeded, since two months later that's still all we ever hear about! Before the ceremony, we had a joust, and Gavin and I were the guests of honor in the King's box. Then we had a short outdoor ceremony, a half-hour break (with bubbles!), and then a sit-down dinner with a show. We didn't dance, and we walked down the aisle together, to a lovely O'Carolan song called "Planxty John O'Connor" (sometimes just called "John O'Connor") played by our lovely harpist, Sarah.

Watching the pre-ceremony joust!


I wrote our ceremony with a fun little skit in the beginning (Mike, Gavin's dad, helped a LOT) to lighten the mood. We didn't say "bride" or "groom" at all, just "partner" and "lover," and we wrote our vows too. It was the most fun I think I've ever had, and I'd do it again in a second! Since we had two and a half years to plan, we didn't stress out too badly, and it was so wonderful to see our family/friends again.

Tell us about your ceremony: We didn't feature any readings, nor did we have any cultural traditions to use in our ceremony. But here's a bit of the skit we did at the beginning of the ceremony to announce it:
The two of us
Mike: My name is Michael, owner and Master of the good ship Valintyne, bound from Bristol to the farthest reaches of the seas, which hath sailed the seas since the year of Her Majesty 1535. For I be a ship's Master, I have the authority to perform this ceremony today. On behalf of the Lady Emma and Lord Gavin, welcome and thank ye for your presence.
Dissident 1: But stay, good captain! We are not on the sea!
Mike: Well, then, 'tis lucky I brought some of the sea with me! (pulls out a bottle of murky water and shakes it about)
Dissident 2: (bad accent): But yew ain't got a ship!
Mike: But I do possess a ship! As I told ye, she's called the Valintyne!
Dissident 1: But you have not got it with you!
Mike: Aye, but I hast this plank – (a boy drags out a wooden platform) – that was once used to knock unruly crewmembers into the plunging waves! (stomps on platform for emphasis)
Mike: Any further questions?
Dissidents: (silence)
Mike: Nay? Back to business then. Emma and Gavin are thrilled that you all are here today to share in their joy during this wonderful moment in their lives…

Henna hands + bouquet = GORGEOUS!


Our biggest challenge: I think that my biggest challenge was my tendency to be a perfectionist. I can be a control freak when I get stressed out. So, I had to learn to step back from wedding planning and take a lot of breaks, and remember to tell myself (and Gavin) how happy I was to be getting married, not just having a wedding! Reading the Offbeat Bride Tribe helped, too, since I saw that I wasn't the only one struggling with trying to make this wedding OUR day, not THEIR day (*coughTheKnotcough*)!

Having been an event planning intern helped, too, since I had learned from that experience that I need to keep a careful eye on my calendar and set up reminders for myself at regular intervals. That way, I don't stress out over possibly forgetting something, and I also don't try to do too much at once!

Dragon toasting goblets!


My favorite moment: The most striking part of the ceremony that I remember was when my normally strong and confident father-in-law was reading our ceremony (he was our officiant) and his hands and voice were shaking. It was very sweet.

Although I didn't cry during the ceremony, I teared up afterward, when everyone was hugging us, congratulating us and giving us gifts. We bought bubbles for the waiting period before dinner, and a lot of us played with those and generally frolicked like little kids!

As we were driving home, Gavin and I gushed about how generous and sweet our relatives and friends were/are, and that made me cry. There was a certain poignant feeling that this point in my life had passed, and I wouldn't be seeing my relatives all together like this ever again. That's a part of the wedding that I hadn't anticipated, that the event would bring our families closer to us, not just closer to each other. Although not much had changed between Gavin and I, the wedding affirmed our relationship to our loved ones and let them express how happy they were that we were happy. Who wouldn't cry about that?

Cutting the cake

My favorite moment: Everything was funny. Hilarious, even. We laughed all the way through the rehearsal walkthrough because we felt so silly! Especially at dinner, when I kept knocking my bench over with my hoop skirt. Then I got a rock in my shoe and couldn't get it out by myself because of my corset. It was great.

My advice for offbeat brides: My advice is to start early, and keep a good, clear calendar. Also, keep your sense of humor! Anything you can do to reduce stress and have fun is good. Gav and I giggled through our rehearsal and told jokes at dinner, and that made all the difference. I could tell that some (okay, many) of our friends were nervous about being in our wedding–and a few were brave enough to tell us so. A few family members expressed concern about us getting married at such a young age (I'm twenty-two, he's nineteen…but we've been dating for almost five years). But our good humor, I think, helped to put them at ease and let them relax a little more than they might have if Gav and I had been nervous wrecks. Be sure to remember that although it's a big day, it's just one day, and if something goes wrong it will all work out in the end (and you'll laugh over pictures of it later anyway).

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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