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

June 24 |

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!

  1. Awesome wedding! My sister had a Ren. inspired wedding dress years ago, and I still have a huge soft spot for women who marry in historically inspired garb!

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    • Thanks for your comment! ^_^ My first response when we were thinking of things to do for our wedding was, "I want to have a historical wedding dress."

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  2. OmG, this is totally awesome! You had the wedding I always wanted! We go to Renfest every year dressed up with season passes. However since we can't have a Ren wedding (too expensive for 200 relatives and friends)
    we're putting small Ren touches in it. Though our theme is 'act your shoe size' so it will still be fun.

    One question though, what does "genderqueer" mean? I take it to mean not being confined to the traditional gender roles. IE: women are emotional and like to cook. Or am I completely off?

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    • From wikipedia: "Genderqueer and intergender are gender identities other than man and woman. People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both man and woman, as being neither man nor woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary."

      That's the technical definition. Frankly, I don't know a better way to explain it than that (I know about it but can't really verbalize it well), but there is a GREAT website you can check out called http://www.genderfork.com that can answer a lot more questions for you.

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    • Vän, your wedding sounds like it will be awesome. Thanks for the definition!

      To respond to your question, Sheri, Gavin and I identify as genderqueer in two different ways. If you think of gender as two spectrums, "masculinity" (high to low) and "femininity" (high to low), where each person can have levels of both (or neither), I think of myself as high on both the masculine and feminine scales, and Gavin thinks of himself as lower on both scales. Hope that makes a bit of sense! ^_^;

      Also: Love genderfork, and our ASU group genderWHAT?! is also awesomely queer! :D

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  3. You guys look so happy, I loved this wedding.

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      • Thank you both for your sweet comments! I think our faces were both aching at the end of the end of the day from smiling and laughing so much. :D

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  4. You two are adorable! I cried reading your story, just wonderful! Sounds like it was so beautiful and fun. Congratulations!!

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    • Thanks, Carren! <3 We did have a ton of fun, and went back to the Ren Faire later in the season just to experience some of the events and atmosphere again.

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  5. Great wedding and awesome location. The AZ Renn Faire is one of my favorite places in the world!

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  6. You got the gold version of my crown! Aren't the people at that store simply amazing? They also made the gorgeous straps for my wedding dress. I recommend them to everyone a 1000 times over.

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    • They were great, and very responsive. They customized everything down to the individual stone shape and color. It took a little longer than I'd expected to get our crowns, though, so I was extra glad we ordered them ahead of time!

      Also, I commend you on your excellent taste in crowns. ^_~

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    • Thanks! But I tell ya, it was so hard finding wedding stuff that was compatible with gender-neutral/LGBTQ-friendly/genderqueer ideas. I am SO grateful for Etsy!

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      • Oh? what sorta stuff did you find? any recommendations?

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        • I think the best thing about sites like Etsy was the ability to find anything and everything, and to have made what couldn't be pigeon-holed into our wedding design! In writing our vows and ceremony, I went to sites like http://www.gayweddings.com and took gender out of the equation. It was much easier than taking non-LGBTQ suggestions and gender-neutralizing them. Barnes and Noble has a surprisingly good selection of LGBTQ-related wedding planning books! :D

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  7. Looks so fun! I love the outfits, love the ceremony….but man those are cute goblets! Now I know what I should be looking for for mine!

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    • Thanks! I highly recommend Ballena Bay Pewter (www.ballenabaypewter.com); they're the ones who made our goblets. They have some really cute dragon/Renaissance designs, and they're super nice!

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  8. Awesome! You two look great and happy in each and every photograph. I am getting married at AZRF next year and will be doing the joust package too. The folks at the faire are awesome and after reading your story I have faith that my wedding will rock too.

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    • Thank you! I will also be attending the Renaissance Festival next year, and as often as possible…maybe we'll run into you! Good luck planning your wedding, and I bet you guys will have a great time. There is just nothing like watching a bunch of sweaty people on horses fighting each other on your wedding day. :D

      Although we were shocked when one of the horses slipped on a turn and fell on its rider in the middle of the joust! O_o (Luckily everyone–including the horse–was alright. *whew*)

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  9. I love love love your outfits. They are just beautiful. Congrats to you both! and thank you to Van for posting the wiki definition!

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  10. Whoo, it's so awesome to see our wedding here on Offbeat Bride, considering how much we consulted the site during planning.
    Also, did anyone noticed that I was armed during the ceremony? (Just a small unsharpened dagger, and it was peacebonded, but still…)

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  11. Gavin, was the dagger in case she said no? Hostages will be taken! ha ha
    Just kidding. Once again I'm supremely jealous and you too seem like a cool couple to me. Stop by the MN Ren if you're ever up here in Aug or Sept!

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    • The dagger was to deal with wedding crashers. *wicked grin*

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      • Or haters! Also, wasn't it the best man's job (or in our case, best lady's) to make sure the bride didn't run off? And take hostages? Maybe that's why she was nervous at our wedding! XD

        Also, thanks again Sheri for your comment, and if we are in MN we will be sure to stop by. :D Thanks for the invite!

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  12. Hello Offbeat Bride! Thank you for featuring my daughter's wedding! I am so proud of Emma and Gavin. The day was wonderful and fun and everyone had a great time. Hurray for queer-friendly weddings. :)

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  13. Absolutely beautiful! I love it all. The queer-friendliness, the beautiful outfits, the faire, that hilarious skit… really, really wonderful. Congratulations!

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  14. What a wonderfully fun ceremony!

    Plus, I was admiring your gorgeous matching garb and was thrilled to see they came from Pendragon! L.O.V.E. my Pendragon!

    Best wishes to you both!

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