Newly engaged couples often feel overwhelmed by the traditions and expectations that go into planning their wedding day. But the truth is that you can break away from tradition, while still creating a special event that your guests will love attending. JeriLyn and Randy are the perfect example of a couple that made their wedding day truly their own, in a way that both celebrated their unique hobbies and loves (comic books, cosplay, gaming, superheroes), while still honoring and actively involving their family and guests. JeriLyn and Randy were awesome enough to share the details of their wedding day, and even some DIY and cost-saving wedding planning tips.
How did you come to select the theme for your wedding day? Why was this important to you?
Randy: "Instead of a traditional wedding where you buy/rent clothes and supplies that we knew we were only going to use once before throwing in a mothball-ridden closet for years to come, we decided we wanted to do something we could reuse. Because we are both so heavily inspired by comics, movies and games, and attend MANY pop-culture conventions in a business and pleasurable capacity (as well as a lot of our friends and family) we felt doing a sort of 'cosplay' themed wedding was ideal. People could dress up as their favorite characters/people and the costumes could be reused. We now use our outfits as our 'cosplay' clothes at conventions we attend."
(JeriLyn and Randy make amazing collectible art glass pieces. You can catch them at the upcoming Phoenix Comicon on May 25 - 28th, 2017 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Visit FireChilde Glass Studio for more info.)
How did you encourage guests to participate?
Randy: "It didn't take too much encouragement as a lot of our friends and family are as quirky as us and really enjoyed the experience. An added bonus was that Halloween was a week and a half prior to our special occasion, which made the costume-building process as difficult or as easy as people really wanted to make it. Also, the promise of free booze helped a lot."
Describe any personal or handmade touches that you incorporated in your wedding.
Randy: "We had made flower bouquets (including the bride's) out of paper flowers we painstakingly made out of comic books that were repurposed from our comic shop, as they were just titles the shop had amassed but couldn't really sell. (Fun fact: the more violent the comic book, the prettier the flower... because blood.) We also used some of our favorite comic book titles as table decorations for people to read and look at while dining, and to take as party favors."
"We also wanted to avoid having a traditional wedding cake as they're not something people typically go gaga over anyway. It was actually suggested to us to do a big stack of donuts, which were a big hit with our guests (out of 8-9 dozen, we walked away with a small box of 6 donuts at the end of the evening). It definitely was a fun addition that we feel was better than a traditional cake."
Tell us about the design of the wedding dress. Did JeriLyn make it herself? What inspired her? What were the advantages of doing a custom-designed dress versus purchasing from a chain store?
Randy: "The wedding dress was basically made from pieces and parts we'd found from different vendors at the conventions we attend. The inception was from JeriLyn's love for Superman... so she dubbed herself the 'Bride-of-Steel,' and we worked around that. The outfit consisted of a black leather corset, a black skirt with white petticoats, a Victorian-era high collar, white button-down shirt with frills, a leather Victorian-era riding hat (that we emblazoned with a silver and black Superman logo), black and white 'spat'-esque boots (later exchanged for black Chuck Taylors for dancing later), and a silver Superman pendant on a silver chain."
"The main advantage of doing a custom designed outfit was really the fact that we were able to help out a lot of the other vendors we attend conventions with, and not throwing money at a big chain store that wouldn't consider my ideas but would rather show me the dresses worn by a hundred other brides that day alone. It was a treat to spread our joy around to independent artists who we've known for years. We also have the opportunity to mix-and-match aspects of this outfit into other designs in the future for other fun events."
Tell us about the design of the groom’s suit. Did Randy make it himself? What inspired him?
JeriLyn: "Randy's "Bat-Groom" outfit was inspired by his favorite character Batman (obviously). The relationship between Batman and Superman over the years has been (what we describe as) a 'Bro-mance.' They always have one another's back and rely on each other in times of need. His costume was a little less elaborate as it consisted of a regular black button-down shirt, a black vest with silver striping, black jeans with a Batman belt buckle, black Chuck Taylor shoes and a giant top hat with the Batman logo on the front. It was simple, but matched the overall fun-aesthetic we were going for."
Were there any special traditions that were a part of your wedding day?
Randy: "The only semi-"traditional" aspect was we had decided that we wouldn't see each other as soon as we hit the venue until the moment of the ceremony. Other than that, we were making it as easy-going and stressfree as possible. Throwing tradition out the window allowed us to really cut loose and not adhere to a bunch of rigid guidelines that'd sap the fun out of the whole process. The only real stress was being the center of attention and making damned fools of ourselves in front of our most cherished people ... and even that was great."
What were some of your favorite moments from your wedding day?
JeriLyn: "As generic of a statement as this is... the vows. We had them written for us by one of our best friends who knows us to a "T". Being able to speak words that were funny and eloquent to my husband-to-be was a great feeling because normally I just stare at him slack-jawed and drooling on myself wondering how I got so lucky. But honestly, the whole thing feels like a quick blur and I loved every moment."
Randy: "As JeriLyn said, the vows were my favorite part. Talking about superheroes and cats and bad comic movies right before getting hitched was a good laugh for us as well as our guests. My other favorite is that David Orr piled us in his vehicle right after the ceremony, and we went down to our comic book shop (about a block away), and we had a good time goofing off and having pictures taken."
How did you come to select the location for your wedding? What was special about this place to you?
Randy: "We wanted to be in an area we frequent fairly often. Regency Garden is about two blocks away from the Mesa Arts Center where JeriLyn works and also really close to our comic book shop we frequent as well. We found Regency kind of by chance. The well-deserved awesome reviews, located in an area we know and frequent, with extremely nice employees and they already had David Orr working as their photographer (which we didn't know until our initial visit when we all bumped into each other at the venue the first day), and the fact it was fantastic looking with reasonable pricing and all inclusive... it felt like it was meant to be."
What advice do you have for couples who are planning their wedding? (Best ways to incorporate a theme, tips to keep costs down, pitfalls to avoid, etc.)
Randy: "Simply put, walk in with a bit of skepticism. Wedding magazines, bridal expos, traditions being jammed down your throat, et cetera ... these resources are meant to sell you something that was already used a hundred times over. There's no need to spend tons of money on customized party favors that guests are going to toss in the trash the next month or that big elaborate stark white dress that will never be seen after that special day. So what if it's 'tradition' to do this, that or the other thing ... whose tradition? This is your day. You or someone you are close to are the one footing the bill. Why would you want it to be the next generic one sold out of an overpriced catalog? You be you--don't let tradition get in the way."
JeriLyn: "You know those folks who are hired with the venue typically? The 'wedding coordinators' ... listen to them. There's no need to micromanage since these folks do hundreds of events a year. They'll certainly know what is unique, what is overdone and what is possible ... and they'll be the first ones to tell you. Also, keep things simple. The more elaborate it is, the more expensive, labor intensive and stressful things become. As much as I want a hundred pure white doves to be released over my head from a hot air balloon with me and my husband's name on it ... it just seems like a lot of unnecessary work for something that people will say 'huh... that was cool. Okay, where's the bar?' "
Come see David Orr speak on the Phoenix Comicon wedding panel "Geek Weddings on a Budget": Friday, May 26, 2017 at 12noon at the Phoenix Convention Center.