“This will be a day long remembered,” – Darth Vader, A New Hope
I was really looking forward to the wedding rehearsal so I could see all of our ideas come to life. I love a good show so I wanted this to be as much fun for our guests as it was for Sarah and me. (There was a surprise guest that I was keeping close to the vest even from her.) To achieve this, we planned out a format that had a lot of moving parts and technical elements. In the end, our 20-minute ceremony took 3 hours to rehearse.
To help with keeping everything on track, we hired a wedding coordinator. I was adamant about our ceremony being full of surprises, so I needed her to be aware of the whole vision. I’m not saying I’m a control freak (I’m such a control freak), but I just wanted everything to be perfect.
We did a quick basic run-through which went smoothly. But then came the technical rehearsal and this is what ate a big chunk of time. I wasn’t worried about memorizing what I had to do, or even the pacing of the candle lighting ceremony. I was mainly worried about our ring bearer, R2-D2, rolling in a straight line down the aisle.
Victor Franco of the R2 Builders Club helped a year earlier when I proposed to Sarah. Now, he was back to help finish what he started. He primary concern was to maneuver his droid down a narrow passage all while blinded by the seated guests.
My surprise guest was also there at the rehearsal calculating his role. Luckily no one ever asked who he was.
Once we got R2’s pacing down we then had a new struggle. We’ve all seen R2-D2 roll over sand dunes, use his rocket jets to escape peril and even use his cunning to defeat Super Battle Droids. However, we’ve never seen him roll over a carpet lip before. Probably for good reason since it tends to knock him off balance.
Our friends and wedding party stood in their places and were good sports although they were starting to get a little annoyed. But, they’ve worked with me before and know how meticulous I can be especially when it comes to R2-D2.
I give a lot of credit to our coordinator for not cracking me over the head with her laptop. She was a get-it-done New Yorker and I was a detailed-oriented-control-freak Groomzilla (a name bestowed upon me by the bridal party on Facebook. I accept that).
At the 3 hour mark, the catering manager at The Grand Banquet Hall in Long Beach told me that we had gone a little past our allotted 45 minutes. At this point I realized I put everyone through enough and that we were a good 95% there. The rest was in the hands of the wedding gods.
Sarah and I had no intention of having a conventional Star Wars wedding. We didn’t want stuff like cardboard character cut-outs, posters on easels or anything like that. What we did want was a wedding that could’ve taken place in the actual Star Wars universe.
We spent months planning out every single detail. Sarah, who is a great graphic designer, couldn’t wait to get started and began designing the invitations to look like movie tickets.
I was also really excited and started to plan the structure of our wedding show (oops, I mean ceremony). We were really anxious to see how far we could push the envelope and come up with something no one had ever seen before.
Our wedding was held on October 25, 2009. It was our favorite time of year. Autumn was in full bloom with the chilly weather and the smell of pumpkins and wood fires in the air. The leaves on the trees had a beautiful Anakin Sith-eyed orange and yellow hue. This is what we wanted as the backdrop to our wedding photos so we set up a shoot at the Nature Center in El Dorado Park in Long Beach a few hours before the ceremony.
We got all the shots we wanted and they looked great! Everyone looked great (even R2 in his red bow tie). Now we were off to ‘The Grand’ just a few miles away to be blissfully wed. We got there a few minutes later and went to our separate dressing rooms for last minute touch-ups.
After a few touching personal speeches by my Best Man Dave (The Rebel Spy) Skale, we made our way down to the ceremony courtyard. As we reached the end of the hall, I saw Sarah and her bridesmaids looking into the reception hall. Sarah had been planning and sketching out what she wanted for months and was curious to see how close the room looked all set up.
This is where I almost lost it!
Here it is my wedding day and I’m seeing red. Not just any red, Palpatine-red! Why you ask? I had given specific directions to our coordinator and the staff at The Grand not to let anyone into this room or even look through the windows on the doors. And here was the bridal party doing just that!
It’s not that I was being a big control freak, it was because I had a big surprise waiting in there and now it was ruined! I was certain that Sarah had seen what I’d been secretly planning. So now I’m about to walk down the aisle and I want to Force-choke someone.
I knew at this point there was nothing I could do about the ruined surprise so I just remembered why I was here so I let it go. However, Sarah is a bad liar and doesn’t hide things very well. If she had seen my surprise I would’ve seen it on her face. Maybe she didn’t see it. Must let it go. Must get married pure of heart and let those feelings go of wanting to rip peoples’ arms out of their sockets.
We were now all in line ready to walk the red carpet to the altar.
It’s showtime! John Williams’ ‘Exultate Juste’ filled the courtyard. The concealing curtains parted. I was the first to walk down the aisle. I was so happy to see all my family and friends from near and far, and my new family which consisted of Sarah’s relatives. I was very calm and at peace.
“Across the Stars” faded in. Sarah, on the arm of her father, floated down the aisle. She was absolutely beautiful. I melted as I saw the huge happy smile on her face. Her father was beaming and never looked so proud.
We chose my dear friend, Alma Carey, to be our officiate. It felt very comforting to have someone that is very close to you performing such a personal task. (I must add that I did briefly consider having a Yoda puppet perform the ceremony. That idea was rejected.) We had other friends read passages, sing songs, and recite lyrics from one of my favorite songs, ‘You Just May Be The One’ by The Monkees (of whom I am a huge fan).
Now, it was time to make this official. Alma asked for the ring. I turned to get it from Dave. He didn’t have it. My face dropped. His face dropped. He searched his pockets and came up empty-handed. The audience began to look uncomfortable on Dave’s behalf. There was only one thing left to do.
“R2!” I called!
The curtain parted to reveal our ring bearer and everyone’s hero, R2-D2. Guests gasped and cheered when our little ring bearer beeped and chirped happily down the aisle.
“Over here!” shouted my special surprise guest. Everyone looked up to see the protocol droid, C-3PO shuffling right behind R2-D2. (I’m literally getting goosebumps just remembering this.) The crowd was in shock. Sarah’s jaw dropped. No one but a select few, not even those in the wedding party, knew of my surprise. Cameras were whipped out and the room lit up with the succession of flashes.
This was my surprise that I suspected Sarah and the whole bridal party had seen when they looked into the reception hall (I thought Sarah had seen my C-3PO actor, Ian Martin, getting suited up. But as it turned out she hadn’t seen a thing because of the “L” shape of the room).
R2-D2 continued down the aisle (in a perfect straight line) carrying the pillow with our rings attached. He whistled and beeped his electronic wedding march as C-3PO spouted several lines of dialogue (my DJ, Alan Wilson, played film bytes through the sound system). When they reached the end of the red carpet, the droids moved to stand beside the groomsmen.
We were closing in on the end of the ceremony. My excitement was overwhelming as we were about to become husband and wife. Alma asked our guests if anyone objected to this marriage.
“I object,” a man yelled out.
He stood up to make his point heard. He was getting scathing looks as he rattled off a few of his points when two Imperial Stormtroopers immediately rushed in and sat him back down. My friend, Jim Skaggs, quickly rethought his objection.
Now for the final moment where Sarah and I recited our vows.
I told her that “with our future before us, I only wanted to spend it with you, my soul mate, my princess, my one true love, my forever. And, this offer leaves the table at midnight.”
Sarah replied with, “you are my sexy scoundrel, and a nice man. Even when our steps grow weak and slow, I promise to love you truly, madly, deeply.” (So many references! Is there any wonder why I love her?) And, just like that, we were now officially husband and wife. We were announced as Mr. and Mrs. and we walked back up the aisle underneath an archway of glowing Lightsabers held by our Jedi-robed ushers.
The reception was a blast! Dave kicked it off with his best man speech that consisted of a power point presentation that ran through a background check on Sarah, the names of our future children (I’m still not ruling out Count Chokula) and what these children would look like through a Photoshop composite.
Everyone had a great time dancing, schmoozing, cheering as my nephew did his best Michael Jackson’s dance moves to “Billy Jean.” Sarah and I had our first dance to ‘Fly Me To The Moon’. We awkwardly danced the way you did when you were teenagers at your first middle school dance. Jim Skaggs again stood up and yelled, “boring!”
Record Scratch. Awkward silence.
The song was quickly changed to a jive version of Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf”. Sarah and I broke out into a swing dance routine of lifts, pushes, twirls and spins (rehearsed???) The crowd loved it.
Then Sarah had her daughter/daddy dance then her dance with R2-D2 (I’ve never seen him so happy).
The party had gone into the wee morning hours. It was now time to start wrapping it up. We were told by the catering manager that the wait staff were jockeying for position over the last month so they could work our wedding. Most had been there for the rehearsal and saw the production we were planning. And it was quite the amazing party!
We left the Grand and headed to the Disney Grand California Hotel.
The next morning we met our families at the Disney’s California Adventure for a day of post wedding fun. Honestly Sarah and I don’t remember much of that day, but, we were told we had a fantastic time.
Sarah and I are so fortunate to have such great family and friends who came from all over world to be there. We want to thank them all for their love and support. We love you all.
Click here to hear the companion Podcast Episode about our wedding.
Click here to hear R2-D2’s side of the story with Victor Franco.
Many of you Star Wars Insider readers may have already read about our wedding in issue #117 where we were the featured article in the Bantha Tracks section.