Karen & Ian's swords and boards geek-tacular wedding

December 1 |
Sword Arch
Photos by Anne-Marie Bouchard

The offbeat bride: Karen, Payroll Analyst (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Ian, Software Engineer

Date and location of wedding: The Baldachin Inn, Ontario, Canada — September 10, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: Ian and I met because of our mutual interest in City of Heroes (an online superhero game). We're both huge geeks, and among our common interests are comics, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, and sword fighting. We knew we wanted to incorporate those things into the wedding.

Proposal Picture

Smiles

Save The Date

I proposed to him using a picture I commissioned of our City of Heroes characters and our save-the-date cards were superhero-themed. We had Tetris-themed invitations and online-only RSVPs as well. I wore a red corset and skirt and carried a feather bouquet, while Ian wore a kilt, a bowler hat, and an axe.

Weapons

Our wedding party carried swords, axes, and daggers, and our wedding party gifts were hand-painted shields. We signed the legal paperwork ahead of time and our "officiant" for the ceremony was our Dungeon Master (dressed as the Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride).

Tetris

We had an armoured honour guard, Tetris blocks centrepieces, mini cupcakes with chocolate D&D dice toppers, and had our first dance to "Mario Kart Love Song." [Editor's note: here is an awesome tutorial for those dice!]

Photobooth

We also had a photo booth (Ian's laptop with Sparkbooth loaded onto it) and it was a huge hit. With Sparkbooth, we were able to print a copy of the photos immediately for our guests and save a copy to the hard drive.

Tell us about the ceremony: When we first started planning the ceremony, I told Ian it needed to be short and funny, and I didn't want to have to say anything if I didn't have to. I know that I cry at weddings (every single one I've attended) and when I'm crying, I get all choked up and can't talk. I'm also quite shy and it would have been pretty awful to have everyone waiting on me to say my lines, and the silence stretching on and on because I couldn't get the words out.

Mawwiage

When we put the two thoughts together, we immediately thought of our friend Craig to be our "Impressive Clergyman." We took the ceremony from the movie and added in some things that were uniquely "us," such as standing together against the zombie hordes. He did a great job and kept an amazingly straight face throughout. And there is a video:

We had originally been planning to walk in to the ceremony site together, but my dad had expected that he would be walking me down the aisle. We butted heads over this a bit (I don't like the tradition, but my dad had always imagined doing it) and finally reached a compromise: both of my parents walked me down the aisle together, then Ian's parents walked him down to meet me. It ended up working out perfectly. Our processional song was "Storybook Love." I'm not sure if that clued anyone in to what was about to happen. At the end of the ceremony, we walked out together to music from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Kiss

Our biggest challenge: Communication with the venue was a huge challenge. I would send an email with several questions, and only get an answer to one or two of them. I made the mistake of falling in love with the venue and putting down a deposit before I read any online reviews, and learned my lesson! It did all work out in the end, but it was very frustrating having to re-send the same questions over and over again to get them answered.

Walking

I also had a very difficult time finding someone to do my makeup. I had four different trials and contacted seven places in total, only to find out that they were unavailable on my date, already booked, or didn't do as good a job as I would have liked. The search was made more difficult by the fact that our venue is outside of the city and I wanted someone nearby or who could travel to the venue. I luckily found a place 15 minutes away the week before the wedding, and thankfully they were available and did a great job!

Applause

My favorite moment: Spending time with our guests right after the ceremony. We decided to do our photos ahead of time, rather than have a gap between our ceremony and dinner. Immediately after the ceremony, we spent half an hour mingling with our guests and it was so awesome. We didn't have much of a chance to talk to anyone during the photos, and I'm really glad we took the time. It was such a relaxed and happy atmosphere, and it meant so much to get to hug everyone and talk to them for a few minutes.

Ian loved watching everything come together in the end despite all the stress and problems we faced along the way.

King Richard

My funniest moment: Hands-down, my dad walking into the reception dressed as "King Richard VIII" to emcee. He had managed to keep it a secret and we were both shocked when he came in wearing his crown and robes. It was the perfect touch. My brother-in-law and one of my cousins were dressed as his court jesters. It was probably the hardest I laughed all day, and that's saying something!

Ian found the ceremony (especially the "split mad loots" line) to be the funniest moment. We both had a very hard time keeping a straight face. His youngest brother completely lost it during the ceremony because he didn't think we'd actually go through with the one we had practiced during the rehearsal.

The speeches were also touching and hilarious. We got rickrolled by my Maid of Awesome, and Ian's best man busted out Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." By the end of the night, my face hurt from smiling and my feet hurt from dancing.

Pamphlet

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was worried about what the older crowd would think of our geeky touches. My dad's mom did ask him after our ceremony if we were really married or not, but other than that, everything went off without a hitch. Our grandparents loved our photo booth and Tetris block centrepieces, and my dad made a point of sitting down to watch The Princess Bride before the wedding so he could incorporate lines from the movie into his speech.

Ian: The weather was a big concern for me since we wanted to do the ceremony outside. We had a backup plan in case of bad weather, but it was going to be much more impressive done outside than in our ballroom. Luckily, the weather was perfect. Those threats to the weather man finally paid off.

d20

My advice for offbeat brides: Look carefully at all the wedding traditions in your area/culture, and decide which ones work for you and which ones don't. Just because it's "always been done that way" doesn't mean you need to do it that way. You may need to compromise with more traditional family members, but make sure you sit down and discuss things with them so you can each explain your point of view and see if you can come up with something that suits you both.

Check out day-of coordinators. We ended up winning one in a draw, and Wendy was amazing.

Ian: Make sure you get involved and give input to as much as you can. There were lots of things for which I didn't give any useful opinions ("whatever you want to do" is never the correct response), and that just makes things harder. If you help out with stuff, you get to put your own personal touches on thing. You will never get everything you want so learn to compromise.

Crossed Swords

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? We're terrible procrastinators! No wait, I didn't learn that then, I already knew that. But I do wish I'd kicked my butt (and Ian's) a bit harder in the months leading up to the wedding. Thankfully, we were able to get everything done a few days before the wedding, but I was really worried that we'd be up all night trying to get everything finished.

Walking

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Hey! I live near Merrickville! And I'm getting married on (almost) your one-year anniversary (the closest Saturday to it for 2012 – Sept 8th). Cool!

    Awesome wedding, your dress is stunning, and I love the kilt!

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    • Congrats! I hope you have as awesome a day as we did. :)

      Thanks! We had a lot of fun and I loved how everything turned out.

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  2. My FH and I were actually discussing the idea of having our own Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride. We just watched the movie again last week and were joking about it. Yours was positively phenomenal! Kudos and congratulations to you both!

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    • Do it! :D It was awesome. I couldn't believe the great reactions we had to it, and Craig did *such* a good job.

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  3. OMG. I love everything about this. Awesome, awesome wedding. Your outfits & the venue are GORGEOUS and eeee, so many awesomely geeky touches. LOVE. =D

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    • Yay! :D Where do you play? I haven't been online in a month (I was doing NaNo in November) but I'm usually on Infinity. Though Skyrim (and Christmas) will probably be taking over my life for the forseeable future. And finishing my NaNo novel!

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      • i have a couple of toons sprinkled throughout the server list but my primary toons are on Champion.

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      • Karen, your wedding looks like it was so much fun! Love all the geeky personal touches :-) Your "will you help save the date STD" made me laugh so hard :-D. My boyfriend was one of the Skyrim game designers – I'm totally stealing the idea of those dice chocolates for our wedding!!! The Bethesda guys will totally dig them!

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        • I would love to see pictures if you end up doing that! Everyone *loved* the dice so much!

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  4. The wedding program made me giggle. That is a great idea! I love all the personal touches especially those from The Princess Bride. Congratulations!

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    • That was all Ian. He did a great job with it – it was so hilarious! I really need to put it up on the web somewhere!

      Thanks! It was tons of fun. :)

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  5. "My dad's mom did ask him after our ceremony if we were really married or not."

    Aw, that is really kind of sweet! <3 Grandparents!

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    • She's very old-fashioned. She was the only person we invited who doesn't have a computer. But she had fun, even though it wasn't quite what she was expecting!

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  6. I love everything about this wedding!

    Quick question. I saw the ring pictures in the album, and saw that your man had both an engagement and wedding band. What was the conversation there? I ask because I'm proposing, with a ring, to my toyboy, and I have no idea what to do with the ring at/after the wedding! Just trying to get some fresh ideas on the issue.

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    • I proposed to him and it was a total surprise to him (and I beat him to the punch by a week, lol!). I had decided to get him an engagement ring but the wedding ring decision was a mutual one. For a while, we weren't sure if he was going to wear two rings or just use the engagement ring as his wedding ring, but he eventually decided he wanted two so we went out looking for something he liked.

      He was originally planning to wear one ring on each hand (he moved his engagement ring to his right hand after the wedding) but a week or so after the wedding he got a cut on his ring finger on his right hand and moved the ring to his left hand while it healed. He got used to having it there, and never moved it back, so now he wears both rings on his left ring finger.

      I'd suggest talking to your boy to decide if he wants two rings or not.

      Good luck with your proposal and planning! :D

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      • My boy's dad had an engagement and wedding ring (because they didn't see why she should get an engagement ring and he shouldn't), so my boy always assumed boys get engagement rings, too. I think it's awesome and makes total sense :)

        also, your corset. Damn. It fits so well!

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        • My corsetmaker is *amazing*. She frankened that corset together from three separate patterns and made it fit like a glove. I love it! :)

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  7. YAY OTTAWA BRIDES!! I *love* seeing local stuff on here, and I am totally checking out your photographer now. In fact, I am checking out all of your vendor links because I am loving on this wedding *so hard*.

    BTW – how did you like your DJ? Looking for a good one :)

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    • We loved all of our vendors! The only one we had any problems with was the venue, which I mentioned in the blog post above. Our photographer was awesome, and our DJ was really easy-going and great to deal with.

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    • Thanks! And thanks for doing the chocolates. They were a *huge* hit with everyone.

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  8. Your mom's dress definitely also deserves an honorable mention!

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    • That was all her idea, though I did help her find it. I thought she looked awesome. :)

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  9. That is the best save the date ever in the whole world.

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    • Thanks! Though I can't entirely take credit – I saw the idea on the Tribe and loved it.

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  10. Love your wedding! Especially your husband and his dad in kilts, your dad with his court jesters at the reception!! I love all your personal touches!

    Congrats!

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    • Thank you! Ian designed them, and we had them made locally. Everyone had their own design that reflected them (our family tartan for my dad, a fiddle for Ian's musician grandfather, etc.). I thought they were pretty fun. :)

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  11. This is pretty much my dream wedding. I… I can't even. So. much. awesome.

    Tetris block centerpieces! CoH! That amazing dress! How fantastic the groom looks (bowler hats FOR THE WIN, my man won't wear one now but I dream of the day), the "So you're going to sit through a wedding," the ceremony, and particularly the facial expressions throughout–it looks like you had an amazing day, and it looks like a really good time.

    Well played.

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    • Thank you! We had an awesome time, and everyone told us they had fun, so we must have done something right!

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  12. Oooh, girl! You are absolutely gorgeous – and the two of you together are *stunning*. What a beautiful, fabulous, and FUN looking wedding. Sounds like you had a perfect day. Congratulations!

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    • Aww, thank you! :D We had tons of fun, and the day really was completely perfect. :)

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  13. I just have to say, this wedding is the one that finally forced me to post a comment. It was absolutely stunning and amazing, and I loved it.

    Also, YAY NaNo! I hope you won!

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    • You're going to make me blush! I'm glad you liked it. :)

      I did! I hit my 50,000 words on the 28th and finished with just over 53,000. I'm not done the story yet so I'm going to keep writing, but I'll probably take a break until after Christmas so I can get some other stuff done!

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  14. I would love to know more about the "So you're going to sit through a wedding" programs–I laughed my fool head off at the concept.

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    • I put a bug in Karen's ear to see if there was MOAR to see on that one. We shall see!

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      • Ooh, yes yes….would also LOVE to hear more about that :) I'm dying to see what's inside :-D

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  15. What an awesome wedding! I adore all the little touches that made it uniquely 'you'. And the Save The Dates. But the last two pics totally made my day! Swordfights and battle-axes? YES!

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    • The "sword fight" was totally impromptu. Our D&D group bought us swords for our wedding gifts, so naturally we needed to use them for a photo op!

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  16. We had such an incredible time getting to know Karen and Ian and photographing their wedding day. I knew when we first met back in 2010 that all the little details of their wedding was going to make it extremely unique and fabulous and it was exactly that. I'm so excited that they pulled off all their surprises and were thrilled to be a part of it.

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  17. Love everything about this wedding. Your dress is to die for.

    Lol, I'm from Kemptville so have been to Merrickville many times

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    • Thanks! I *love* the way the dress turned out. Gorgeous, comfortable, and totally me. :)

      I love the area – it's beautiful!

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  18. Oh man, just noticed this was in Merrickville!! I grew up outside of Perth, and this summer when my boy and I went to see my old house, we swung by Merrickville on the way back. We had an epic battle in the moat around the fort there (us with our pantomime rifles against the innumerable invisible foe) and then ate at the Dickens restaurant. Such a pretty town!!!!

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  19. Where did you get the hand-painted shields??? We've been thinking of doing something similar, but have no idea where to get them!

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    • We made them ourselves. We picked designs and used a projector to project the images onto the shields and draw them on, then painted them all and glued the leather around the edges. It took ages, but they were very well-received!

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  20. this is the most beautiful dress i have ever seen. ever. you look fantastic.
    (i can´t get over the fact, how BEAUTIFUL that dress is, did i mention that?)
    congratulations!

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    • Thank you! I am madly in love with my dress, lol. Robin did an absolutely amazing job!

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  21. I LOVE your wedding! It has so many elements that we're planning to have in ours. I also may need to borrow some ideas (if I can incorporate a large D20, I will be one happy girl ;) ). Also, thank you thank you thank you for the photo booth software suggestion. I've been wanting a photo booth but could not justify the $700 going rate. Thank you for sharing your special day. It makes a gaming geek like me all warm and fuzzy :-D I'm glad I took a break from SWTOR to glance through offbeatbride ;)

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    • Borrow away! We were inspired by so many things we saw on Offbeat Bride. :) We borrowed the giant d20 from a friend, but I believe it came from Think Geek originally. Good luck with your planning!

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  22. Love the engament ring for the guy. my awesome half wears one as well!! I absolutly love your dress, Im making some alterations to my mom's dress to create a more medival look to it!

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  23. I LOVE Tetris!!! I checked out the photos of the guests playing with the tetris blocks you provided and they look awesome! We're planning on having various games/activities available at the reception and I love these!!! Where did you get them or did you make them? And if you made them, any clues on how?

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    • We made them – we bought 8-foot-long 2×2 poplar wood boards and cut them into squares, then sanded and glued them together. Primer, paint, stamp (we created the stamp and ordered it from Staples), and seal. They were a HUGE hit, and it makes me so happy to see them at peoples' houses. :)

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      • Great! Thank you for sharing! Love your dress btw – You look gorgeous & so happy!

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