Have a Nerdy Wedding without Alienating Your Guests

Have a Nerdy Wedding without Alienating Your Guests

You’ve searched far and wide, and you’ve finally found a man who can beat the Tetris high score you’ve maintained since high school. Let’s say the lucky man has already gotten on bended knee and made you guess riddles, Gollum-style, until you found the precious ring in his pocketses. But before you start gushing about how you’ve always wanted a nude Betazoid wedding like the one you saw on Star Trek, consider that your friends and family members may not share your intimate knowledge of The Next Generation’s fifth season.

How do you reconcile your big day, which is supposed to be a celebration of your uniqueness as a couple, with the blank stares you’re likely to encounter from your gathered relatives as they’re issued lightsabers at the door? The answer lies in carefully treading the middle ground. First, you’ll have to accept that some of your references will go over your guests’ heads. As long as the nerdy references can be appreciated on at least one level, however, your guests will be happy. If you’re planning a tiered cake with platforms reminiscent of Donkey Kong, be sure the chocolate barrels are plentiful and delicious. If you’re walking down the aisle to a song from the Buffy musical episode, print the lyrics in the wedding programs. If you’re reciting your vows in Klingon, invest in an English translator. It’s only polite.

Most importantly when planning a nerdy wedding, keep a Teflon sense of humor at all times. You will encounter well-meaning relatives and friends who just don’t understand, and you may get sick of repeating why, again, you’d like your bridesmaids in Slave Leia bikinis. Remember that you are hosting an unconventional event, and be ready to accept a certain amount of good-natured ribbing. If you handle guests’ confusion and questions gracefully, and perfect your self-deprecating smile, it will help you to avoid feeling pressure to change.

Is your or your partner’s family paying for a large portion of the festivities? Unfortunately, in this situation, you may have to bow to many of their desires. Keep in mind, when personalities clash, that the family is giving you a generous gift because they want you to have what they perceive to be a perfect wedding. Head off potential arguments by enlisting their cooperation to find compromises that allow the family to feel satisfied, and that still give you and your partner the flexibility to make your event reflect your personalities. For example, if a wedding cake made of frosting “Legos” is off the table, so to speak, perhaps you can get creative with a smaller groom’s cake.

Look for aspects of your favorite nerdy pastimes that everyone can enjoy. Instead of handing your minister a full-body Totoro costume, for example, hand out small satchels of seeds with a note explaining how the movie character danced the seeds into sprouting. (Feel free to work it into a marriage metaphor while you’re at it; you’ll be sure to have your great aunt watering those seeds every day.)

If parts of your wedding will be referencing scenes from movies, edit those scenes into a short video ahead of time. You can project it during the reception and get everyone on the same page. If your wedding cake is a perfect replica of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, your guests can have the opportunity to all aim their proton packs in the same direction for the cake-cutting photo. 

When in doubt, go for edible creations. Since all people share a need for sustenance, food is a good place to start the search for common ground. Hand out chocolate Dungeons & Dragons dice as part of your wedding favors, or include cookies decorated like Mario mushrooms. Even if some guests need an explanation, they’ll still be able to enjoy a delicious snack.

Urge guests to participate, but don’t pressure anyone to leave their comfort zone. You’ll have the most luck with things that can be explained on the fly and don’t need any prior knowledge to appreciate. For example, start a “Katamari Dance” during the reception where the bride and groom run into dancing couples and “collect” them, dancing around in a bigger and bigger lump until everyone in the room is dancing together. Some of your less videogame-savvy relatives will never understand what happened, but odds are they’ll still have a great time.

The bottom line is: your guests came so they could be a part of your big day. If you can make them feel included, they’ll indulge what they perceive to be your eccentricity no matter how obscure it is. If there’s no way to explain the joke so everyone has an opportunity to appreciate it, however, it’s better saved for your honeymoon.