I married the love of my life, Elizabeth “Lizo” Medina-Gray, on the end of the world, May 21, 2011.
…Well, that’s not really true; apparently it was actually just supposed to be “Judgement Day,” with the much more exciting “Everyone Dies in a Fiery Blaze Day” coming later in the year. But that’s missing the point. The point is that I got hitched! It actually happened! And a little certain someone from GameCola’s past wanted to commemorate the occasion…
(Click the image for larger view.)
Yes, no less than Mr. Loafy Carl himself came out of his 2004 retirement to give us this comic as a wedding present; that’s how you know the Big Day really was a big deal.
Our wedding was held in lovely Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, a place which Lizo’s been visiting with her family (and now, me) since she was a little girl; there’s even a plaque in honor of her grandmother down one of the paths. Our videogame integration was a little more ham-fisted than Mike and Vangie’s classy approach. Going into the happiest day of our lives, we basically had two themes: videogames, and plants. The plant integration is pretty obvious (we got married in a garden) and was pretty easy to handle; but we had to get a little more creative to work in our favorite pastime together.
We outright stole Mike and Vangie’s idea of naming the tables in our reception after videogame locations, instead of the more common and traditional naming them after numbers:
We even had a table called—yes, Lizo actually let me get away with this—”Wright and Co. Law Offices.” (She wouldn’t let me name one after the world from BioShock, though. I wonder why…) Appropriately, that’s where we stuck our GameCola guests.
Of which there were many! Neal wasn’t the only GameCola staffer (well, former staffer—we still miss you, buddy!) in attendance. Nathaniel Hoover took the train down from Connecticut, Michael Gray flew in all the way from the other side of the entire country, which still blows my mind, and Mike and Vangie themselves drove in from…well, another part of Maryland, but it was at least forty minutes away. And that’s not to mention that my Best Man was Matt Gardner, and his self-appointed Assistant Best Man (and also official groomsman) was “Captain” Eric Regan. Or that my other two groomsmen, my brothers Rick and Dan, have contributed to the site in the past, as well—Rick was even voted as GameCola’s Reader of the Year in 2005. Heck, even the Maid of Honor, Lizo’s little sister Jenny, has appeared in GC before! It was a real GameCola affair.
Since there were so many of us in attendance—by far the most that have ever been in the same place at the same time—we had our professional wedding photographer take a picture of all of us:
From left to right: Nathaniel Hoover, Matt Gardner, Elizabeth Medina-Gray, Eric Regan,
Paul Franzen, Vangie Ridgaway, Michael Ridgaway, Michael Gray, Becca Clipper, and Neal
This is the first staff picture we’ve had of any kind since we were a bunch of high school nerds in 2003. (Bonus points if you can identify who appears in both photos!)
But back to the Big Day. During the introductions to the reception, we had our wedding party come out to an elegant version of Maya’s theme from Phoenix Wright (which some in attendance might have recognized from this edition of The Off-Topic Podcast), while Lizo and I came out to “The Power of Love,” by Huey Lewis and the News. Why “The Power of Love”? Do you really have to ask?
Also, the cake toppers…just check them out:
Maid of Honor Jenny made those herself out of clay. (The one on the left even has the same hair style that Lizo’s character always has in LittleBigPlanet.)
We tried to confine most of our videogame-related stuff to the reception; we figured that the actual ceremony should be more refined, and also not embarrass our parents. Though, there was a bit of an (unintentional) shout-out to nerd culture there, too, as one of our two readings (performed by former GameCola freelance editor Heather, no less) was a selection from Book 3 of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Here’s my favorite quote from it:
“I’ll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be bound so tight…”
(You can read the full selection here, in some random person’s blog.)
The thing I think everyone will remember best about our wedding, though, was the replacement we came up with for a “first dance.” I’m just going to throw it out there: we had a “first videogame,” instead. I’m totally serious: first videogame as husband and wife. Before you get all huffy and sorry for our poor family members who had to sit through us defeating Sepiroth together, though, hear me out. It wasn’t just some random level in some random videogame that had nothing to do with us personally.
Our Best Man, Matt Gardner, actually created an entire level in LittleBigPlanet 2 specifically for Lizo and I to play on our special day, as our first game together as husband and wife. His gift to us.
I believe the word you’re looking for is “awwwwwwww.”
I’m going to try to get the level up on YouTube later if I can.
After the Big Day, instead of a more traditional post-wedding brunch, we took everyone who wanted to go to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (don’t give us too much credit for that; the zoo’s free). It was here that we were able to sneak in one final bit of our favorite pastime together:
The shirts say “THIS WAS A TRIUMPH” and “JUST MARRIED.”
Actually, wait; I’m sorry. Before I wrap up, there’s one more final, final thing. For our honeymoon—a cruise down the fjords of Norway—we made sure to pack the essentials: namely, our Nintendo DS’s. We even each bought a new game just for the occasion.
And, the hell of it is…we actually played them. Both of us.
I’m glad the world didn’t really end.
P.S. About the “no dancing” thing? Here’s a video we made for our wedding guests to explain why we didn’t have any dancing at the reception:
P.P.S. I’m pretty sure the GameCola table actually podcasted my wedding; hopefully we’ll be able to get that out to you at some point.
P.P.P.S. You’re next, Hooves!
Congrats Paul and Lizo. A winner is you!
The wedding was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
No one ever posted who the people in both photos are! I KNOW THE ANSWER! Is the prize money still available for this?
Literally all of the prize money is still available.
The answer is: ME, Neal, and Doug! Also possibly Christina.
If you had only guessed Gina, I would’ve given it to you!
I’m not guessing Gina. I’ll guess “Golden Boy” Brian Vanek and leave it at that.
In other news, where is the Youtube video of your wedding level?!
I still have to come up with a proper name for the level!
UPDATE: Three months later, we’ve finally gotten around to publishing the level to the LittleBigPlanet 2 network! Just search for “Mr. Face Opposes This Marriage” to check it out. It’s the next best thing to marrying me yourself!
LULZ IM IN UR GARDENS MARRYIN MAH WIF – P. Franzen
Next on my archive-diving session: The video made me chuckle.
This was sweet to see. Just realizing that “Wow, these events were current at some point” is awe-inspiring.
Two questions (since this was long enough ago that “recent posts” isn’t relevant enough anymore): Did the wedding actually get podcasted/posted at some point? Also, has there been any video of “Mr. Face Opposes This Marriage” to the internet?
I said two, but here’s a third: this is titled “A Very GameCola Wedding 2”, so is A Very GameCola Wedding 1 just hidden under a different name, or is there a different reasoning as to why “A Very GameCola Wedding” doesn’t yield it as a search result?
D’Arvit! Ignore that last point, it was linked to in “Wed Hard with a Vengeance.” But it doesn’t pop up when I type it in the search box, so that point still stands.
For the first two questions, I’m pretty sure it’s no to both! I actually have the wedding podcast files…it was just difficult to edit and impossible to tell who was talking, and it’s more entertaining to people invested in it than to people on the site in general. Too bad!
Also, for the last one—keep in mind that the search will ignore “A” and give results for posts with the words “very”, “GameCola”, and “Wedding” anywhere in them…I imagine a lot of posts have “very” and “GameCola” somewhere. If you click on the “A Very GameCola Wedding” tag up at the top, though, you get all three!