By Brownyng Borouk-LionHeart
Elanthia is a land of adventure and romance, and part of the thrill of this life of ours is in meeting that perfect soulmate, falling in love, and being wed. Weddings add tremendously to the social life of Elanthia, and are a wonderful way to affirm a relationship. There are two types of weddings in Elanthia: "gods-sanctioned" (i.e. run by a GameMaster) and "civil" ceremonies (without GameMaster assistance). Each can be equally beautiful.
This guide consists of a variety of helpful hints to help you plan a beautiful Elanthian wedding, whether or not you utilize the services of a GameMaster. However, it should be noted that there is no one "right way" to plan a wedding, in or out of Elanthia. The most important thing is that the bride and groom are happy with the plans. This is especially true in Elanthia, which is made up of our collective fantasies; we may have to compromise in our mundane life, but in our fantasy life, we should have the wedding we want, if at all possible.
Essentially, you need only two things to be married in Elanthia: a cleric and a ring for the bride. In fact, if you wish, you could even forgo the bride's ring. You can even forgo the cleric (especially if one member of the pair is of the clergy) and simply declare your intention to wed to each other and to the gods. You are as married as the bride with the entire entourage. However, we'll look here at those wishing a more elaborate ceremony.
Clerics are to be found throughout the Lands, and many are happy to do weddings. Some prefer not to, because of their religious affiliations or simply their outlook. If you're in doubt, ask. The clerics that do weddings are usually high-profile, and attending a wedding or two or asking a recent bride should turn up a cleric willing to do the job. It is always nice, of course, if the cleric knows the couple personally, and many are now requesting that the couple meet with them beforehand for some informal counseling before they will agree to perform a wedding ceremony. With the recent rash of marriages ending in divorce shortly after the wedding, this is a wise course of action, and if your cleric asks you to do this, I urge you to consider it seriously. Weddings and marriage should not be undertaken lightly, even in fantasy. There is no set guideline on whether or not to give a gift to the cleric, but I believe it is a nice idea if possible. You should give whatever you can afford, and whatever feels appropriate, with the elaborateness of the wedding and the amount of time the cleric must spend on it taken into account.
Simple wedding bands can be purchased from the jeweler's in Wehnimer's Landing, and any ring or band from diamond to pearl to mein can be purchased and used as your wedding band; you need simply declare it so. However, the jewel shoppe on Teras Isle does provide wedding and engagement bands in many metals and gems, from gold to glaes to sunstone to sapphire to diamond. If you are unable to make the trip to Teras yourself (one must be titled to buy a ticket for the boat, and the price is 50,000 silvers), there are usually people willing to pick up a set for you. Sets are also frequently sold via auction boards and the amunet.
In the following paragraphs, I will focus on the rules and regulations for having a GameMaster-sponsored wedding, but before I do, I'd like to post a few disclaimers. First of all, the GM in charge of weddings has been overcome lately by wedding requests, and her list may not be open. Also, due to this unprecedented demand, changes are required to keep up and avoid overwork on the GM's part, so the information here may not be accurate when you plan your own wedding. You will need to check with Miriani when you are ready to plan your wedding, but this should give you a good framework.
One note: weddings should never be used only as an excuse to get new clothes!! This is terribly selfish, for it wastes the GameMaster's time, and endangers the opportunity for couples who are truly in love to have their own weddings. Think seriously about your motives before contacting the GameMaster.
Once a couple decides to marry in a gods-sanctioned ceremony, they should contact GameMaster Miriani to reserve a date. Miriani will not schedule a wedding until BOTH members of the couple are titled, and again, her list is usually very long. Expect at least a three-month (real time) wait before you can reserve a date, and do not be surprised if you get a reply saying that she is unable to schedule you at this time.
Costs for a GM'd wedding as of this writing are as follows: the base cost for the wedding is 150,000 silvers for a wedding held in-town (the Wedding Glade and Dance Tent are considered in-town). An additional 50,000 silvers is charged if the wedding is held at any location outside of Wehnimer's Landing. There has been no word yet on how IceMule weddings are to be handled, though at this point I would budget the additional 50,000 if you plan to do an IceMule wedding. Better to be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly shocked. Also, keep in mind when budgeting that wedding rings and any special items needed may raise the price of the wedding.
One advantage to a GM'd wedding is, of course, a set of new clothes for the participants, custom-made to their specifications. There are limitations, however. The GameMaster will only create clothes for the bride, groom, maid of honour and best man. She can create ceremonial armor, but not regular battle armor, and she cannot create weapons, jewelry (aside from wedding rings), magical items, etc. She can only create new clothes; you will not be able to alter your 3x armor into your wedding gown.
Each participant should limit themselves to no more than four or five items. Usually, for a bride, this includes a gown, shoes, a pouch or bag of some kind, a bouquet and a circlet of flowers for the hair. However, one is not limited to these. Gloves, cloaks, handkerchiefs, etc. can all be created, but of course, you would have to exercise good judgment and not go over the allotted limit. Unusual items should be discussed with the GameMaster.
Clothing should also be limited in regard to the amount of characters in the description. Gowns and armor should be limited to no more than 140 characters; shoes, pouches, etc. should be kept to around 80 characters. It is my considered opinion that less is more; the most beautiful gowns and clothes tend to be the ones that are kept simple, and also have the advantage of being worn again. It seems wasteful to design a gown to be worn only once, though selling or lending it to a young lady who is not having a GM'd wedding is another idea, and a good one, in my mind.
There are a few things to consider when designing clothes. First of all, remember that Elanthia is a fantasy land with a medieval flavor. Many people design their wedding clothes with 20th century Western tastes in mind. While noone is going to stop you if you want to create a ruffled and backless wedding gown with a huge bow on the derriere, or a midnight black leather tuxedo, it might be more appropriate to look to medieval attire, or simply look at the clothes that you see everyday in-world, and expand on them. Also, remember that this is a text-based environment; as such, it is often difficult to describe exactly what you see in your mind in a way that looks good in a character inventory, and it is sometimes better to leave the details up to the imagination of the reader. Lastly, you will need to provide your own jewelry, and while you are limited to only a handful of custom-created items, you can wear as much (or as little) of your own things as you care to.
The advice about gowns applies equally to rings. Custom wedding bands and rings can be created by the GameMaster, for an additional charge over and above the 150- to 200,000 silver charge for the wedding itself. Again, it is my considered opinion, after seeing countless wedding bands, that the best ones are often the simplest. My all-time favorite (so far) is a pair of "ancient veniom wedding bands". Many of us like to joke about custom wedding bands, claiming to have seen a "stunning wedding band of some weird old metal featuring a pair of eye-piercingly bright moonstone lions surrounding the biggest gaudiest diamond you ever saw". It's a funny joke, but unfortunately, not too far from the truth in a few cases. Remember, less is more, and good taste never hurt anyone. Also, some wedding bands are created with a simple description in inventory, and then a longer and more elaborate description when the ring is shown to someone. This is another option.
A few other things regarding GM'd weddings. First of all, a reception is included in the price. You may choose from several different locations, which are discussed below. Food and drink, as well as dancing, is included in your wedding package price. Normally, the food on the tray is chosen by the GameMaster, but if there is something you just have to have, you can mention it to her. Likewise, if you really do not want something that is normally on the tray (chocolate bride and groom figurines, demon rum), you can request that it be left off.
Small jewel boxes can be created to hold the wedding rings, and are often given to the best man and maid of honour as gifts. Pouches can also be created for the honour attendants to hold the wedding rings during the ceremony, and be worn afterwards. Certain ceremonial items can be created as well (again, no weapons); my favorite so far has been a beautiful ivory silk cloth with gold threading, used in a handfasting ritual to catch the blood from the couple's wrists as they were cut, allowing their blood to mingle. Caution should be exercised here, and any ideas need to be discussed with the GameMaster. Finally, one advantage to the GM'd wedding is the opportunity for role-playing (I've seen some wonderful GM-created mood messages at weddings, with handsome rangers and playful squirrels attending the festivities) and for role-playing awards.
Naturally, a wedding without GameMaster assistance will be simpler, and will require more work on the part of the couple, but need not be any less beautiful. Again, one must locate a cleric and ring (or rings, if the groom chooses to wear a ring), and choose a date, and location. It is usually helpful to contact Miriani to make sure that the location you've chosen for your ceremony and reception is not being used for another wedding or function on that date.
Gowns in many different colors and fabrics can be custom-made at the clothier's in Wehnimer's, and lovely cloaks and capes can be purchased there as well. Often, wedding gowns or other beautiful gowns, cloaks and other items that can be adapted to wedding clothing are sold on the auction boards and the amunet. Keeping an ear to the ground will often lead to wonderful finds; some friends may even let you borrow their beautiful clothing or jewelry. Remember, too, that you do not necessarily have to choose white; any color that you like and feel good in will do for a wedding, even black! Likewise, the groom should wear the best clothes he can find, though many wear their best armor, and look very handsome at their weddings.
Bouquets of various flowers, wreaths of flowers for the hair, and boutonnieres for the men can all be purchased at the Florist's shoppe in town. Please remember that there is a wait for the custom-designed bouquets, and flowers do tend to be expensive. If you want fresh flowers, you'll need to budget for them, in terms of both time and money.
Food can be purchased at any number of locations, from cookies and wedding cake at the baker's to fresh fruit and cheese at the grocer's shop. There are also places out of town to obtain food. However, receptions can be arranged for those not having a GM'd wedding, due to age or inclination. All that is needed is a 25,000 silver fee for the food tray, and a date that is open on the calendar for the reception location. Such receptions are arranged through the GameMaster, and are subject to availability.
Here are some frequently asked questions. Remember, the answers are my own opinions, and should be adapted to suit you.
"I'm overwhelmed! Where do I begin?!"
The best place to begin is with yourselves: the bride and groom. Think of who you are, and what you want to express in a public ritual (which is what a wedding is). Themes are often a good way to help organize your thoughts: Celtic weddings, High Magick weddings, Peasant weddings, Nautical weddings, Nature Weddings, Elven Weddings...all can provide good starting points for choosing sites, clothes, etc. Even a choosing a "feel" for your wedding can be helpful: light-hearted, serious or sexy. Color schemes can also be helpful, but in all cases (especially this one) I urge you not to be slavish to your theme. Use a theme or color scheme as a guide, but try to avoid a "matchy-matchy" or overly theatrical look.
"How do I choose a date? A time?"
With the recent bad weather, many brides and grooms are looking to "off" days and times to have their weddings. But the most popular days are still Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with the most popular times in the late evening (using Eastern time). Planning your wedding on or around a holiday has the disadvantage of being a busy time; however, it has the advantage of giving you a built-in "theme" to help with your plans.
"Where can I hold my ceremony?"
Anywhere special to you as a couple can be used as a ceremony site, though the Wedding Glade is still the most popular site. Shrines and temples are good locations: Kai's, Ronan's, Imaera's, Charl's, the Town Temple, even the Spider Temple! Monuments such as the Colossus are often used, as are areas in IceMule, River's Rest and Teras Isle. One consideration is how much "public" participation you want. If you would rather cut down on the amount of people coming to the wedding out of simple curiosity or to earn role-playing awards or be disruptive, then an out-of-the-way place will help achieve that goal. If you want big crowds, the site should be more accessible.
"Where can I hold my reception?"
Right now, I know of only two places in Wehnimer's where dancing is a permanent part of the room: the Dance Tent in the Wedding Glade and the Ballroom of the Silvergate Inn (which is available to rent to non-members and members alike). There may be more, but the permanent dance feature makes these two places the most popular spots for receptions. However, private Houses can also be set up for receptions, though you'll need to remember to arrange for the doorkeeper to be given the night off.
"How do we write our vows?"
Most couples have a combination of cleric-led vows, followed by vows written and spoken by the couple themselves. You may do whatever you choose: one or the other, or both. If you choose to write your own vows, remember to make them appropriate, but you should write what you feel.
"What can we do to make our ceremony stand out?"
Again, the more of "you" that you put into your ceremony, the more it will stand out. If you are bratty or magical or light-hearted or sexy, have your ceremony reflect that. Such rituals as handfasting, binding wrists with silken cords, and using spells to bless the rings and the participants will also lend uniqueness to your ceremony.
"At the last wedding I attended, a bard performed. Do I need a bard? Where can I find one?"
Bards are not necessary, though they do lend a wonderful touch to a ceremony. Most bards ask that you write the song that they will sing, though many will do it themselves, or will adopt poems, hymns or sonnets for the occasion. A good place to find a bard willing to sing would be Harper's Hall, the unofficial bard's guild. The guild and its leaders will be able to put you in touch with bards willing to perform at weddings. Of course, having a bard that you have a relationship with sing for your wedding is especially nice. If you are unsure whether a bard will perform, ask; many don't, but some will perform for friends. My own husband, Lord Enegue LionHeart, sings at weddings only rarely, and will do so only for people that he is close to.
"Do I need to be 'given away'?"
Not at all. If you choose to, you can, but you should not feel obligated to grab someone from the crowd for this ritual. If you aren't that interested or can't find anyone that you would really want to give you away, skip this.
"I'm having a GM'd wedding, and I can't stand the dress my maid of honour has designed. Help!"
This is definitely a delicate situation. On one hand, your maid of honour may be looking at this as an opportunity to obtain a gown she loves and that fits her personality to wear to parties and special events. On the other hand, you may feel you have the right to have the wedding you want. My suggestion is to provide a "template" when you're deciding on gowns: give the attendant some color choices or fabric choices; tell her you'd like the gown to be simple but the cloak to be elaborate, or whatever. Don't dictate, but do provide direction. Working with your attendants on clothes that everyone is happy with is infinitely better than forcing an attendant to wear something she hates, or to have her look incongruous and not match the rest of the wedding party.
"I have three sisters, two best friends, and an adopted daughter. How can they all participate?"
There are many ways for people to participate, from being bridesmaids, to dropping petals, to carrying the rings, to singing, to conducting a special ritual, to giving a short speech. Be imaginative. If you'd like to have eight bridesmaids, there is no reason that you shouldn't, though you will need to coordinate their outfits and find them yourself. Don't feel that you have to have "matched sets" or force your friends into set roles. Have the people you want in your wedding in your wedding, in whatever capacity you feel comfortable with.
"Does the best man have to be a man?"
Not at all. The bride's and groom's honour attendants should be their closest friends, whatever gender or race that might be.
"How can I get people to shut up and sit still during my wedding?"
Weddings are private events, and therefore cannot be "silenced" by a GameMaster via an Assembly. Clerics can often be counted on for crowd control, and some larger weddings have used a "master or mistress of ceremonies" for this purpose, as well as to announce the wedding party. Out-of-the-way locations help, too. However, understand that weddings are considered good events at which to earn role-playing awards, and a certain amount of "showing off" is inevitable. Try to keep a good sense of humour about it, and don't let it get to you.
"What about invitations?"
Invitations are up to the bride and groom. If the wedding is a GM'd one, it is often announced in the News section, and sometimes in-game right before the start of the wedding. Invitations can be sent out via e-scroll, and can be anything from simple text letters of invitation to elaborately drawn artwork. There are many talented artists in Elanthia willing to perform this service; ask around.
"My friend is getting married. What should I give he and his bride as a wedding gift?"
Wedding gifts are not necessary, but most of us want to express our happiness for the couple with a tangible gift. I myself prefer to give money, because most older couples already have lockers overflowing with items, and younger couples often have things they'd like to purchase, and giving them the funds to do so on their own is often appreciated. "Disposable" items such as imbedded amulets (Invisibility and Call Familiar are universally popular) are also nice. I do discourage you from using another's wedding as a way to unload some of your "junk", though.
"How were you and Lord Enegue wed?"
We chose to elope, and a few hours before Silvergate's huge Winter Gala in December, we slipped away to Moot Hall. We chose to be married in the House Clerk's office, since so much of our courtship had been spent there, inducting members. Wearing our dancing clothes, we were married by Enegue's cousin Soulsaver, witnessed only by his brother Lord Caretaker and the House Clerk, Anthius. Afterward, we attended the Gala, where we made the announcement that we'd wed. It was private, quiet and -- for us -- simply perfect.
~~Here's to the hope that your wedding will be the perfect one for you, as well!~~