Many people meet their partners at conventions, which is exactly what happened to XC and Zelly from Team Neko UK, as the duo combined their love for conventions and each other by tying the knot at Kitacon last month. I spoke to the pair about their big day and what was involved in planning a wedding at a convention!
How did you two meet?
XC: We met at Amecon 2007, in Leicester. I was a massive arsehole at the time.
Zelly: Yeah, he really was. For an entire year I referred to him as “that asshole from Ame ’07”. I really hated him. But then we met again a year later at Ame ’08 and I didn’t recognise him at all since he had grown out his hair and shaved off his beard.
He got on the same train as me to Leicester and we got chatting over the course of the weekend. We exchanged contact details and decided to keep in touch afterwards since we both lived in Scotland and got on really well that weekend. I didn’t actually realise that I already knew him until the Sunday night of the convention.
XC: Yeah it was a really amazing coincidence! My original train was cancelled due to flooding, and I was routed to Edinburgh, and managed to get onto the train there – later on we found out that it was the last train from Scotland that made it south of the border that day!
Zelly: If my train hadn’t been delayed by two hours due to massive flooding, or his train hadn’t been cancelled. Heck, even if he went to a different door to board the train, we would never have met each other again and he would STILL be referred to as “that asshole from Ame’07”
How did the proposal happen?
XC: At Gemucon 2013, we were talking to a whole load of people (Super Seekrit Stairway Panel!) about our relationship – how we met, our first date, what was coming in future – and Zelly said something like
“Oh, me and Tom will get married at some point” and I said “So… You gonnae marry me then?” and she replied “Eh…S’pose so.” Around a week later we sat down and decided that we wanted to bring the marriage into the near future rather than long-term planning.
What made you decide to hold your wedding at Kitacon?
Zelly: Conventions are such a huge part of our life. It was at a convention that I met Tom, it was at a convention that the proposal happened. So we figured, why not hold the wedding at a convention too? And Kitacon holds a special place in my heart since I’ve attended every one of them from the start. The committee are an outstanding lot too, and I love them all to bits. I knew they would take good care of us on the big day.
XC: We have a really strong connection to Kitacon. Kitacon 2011 was my first convention back after taking a break in 2010 and feeling like I didn’t want to be part of the scene any longer – Kitacon brought me back into the fold. What’s more, we know ourselves that travel to and from Scotland is a real pain so we wanted to make it possible for our friends to be there. Since most of our friends were planning on attending Kitacon already, it made sense to have it there. And finally, the Hilton is gorgeous!
What did your friends and family think of the idea, especially those not part of the anime/cosplay community?
Zelly: Everyone at my work wanted to come along to Kitacon just to see the ceremony! They all thought it sounded fantastic. When I told them about our plans they weren’t at all surprised. They knew I wouldn’t do the traditional white wedding.
However, we ran into a small difficulty when it came to getting married at the convention. It turns out that if you want to get married in England, then you need to live in England. I tried to find all sorts of loopholes to get around that, but was unsuccessful. I was devastated and thought that we were going to have to cancel all the plans we had made. But then our friend Dan Harris suggested just doing the legal paperwork back home in Scotland, and then having the ceremony at Kitacon for all our friends to see. This actually worked out really well and in our favour.
XC: The ceremony we held at home was very small and just for the immediate family since they wouldn’t have been able to attend the big ceremony at the convention. They were happy so long as we were happy.
As for our convention friends They thought it was a fantastic idea and were probably more excited at the idea than we were at some points.
What did you wear on your big day?
XC: I wore a black kilt because I don’t like suits – and I wore red vest because I’m Chinese and it’s auspicious to wear red. Finally, the Sgian Dubh was a last minute thought to complete the outfit, but it came in handy when we were ambushed by vicious cake! Zelly had no idea about it and was quite annoyed when she realised that it was a proper knife.
Zelly: I wore a big blue fantasy coat that I had wanted for SO long. The woman that makes them lives in America and everything that she makes is one of a kind, so there will be other similar styled blue coats, but none of them will be exactly the same as mine. It cost a small fortune though, but was worth every penny. I decided to wear a blue corset underneath, and a plain black skirt since you wouldn’t really see it with how long the coat was. And since I can’t walk in heels, I decided to treat myself to a pair of red converse to wear. I also made a hairband with little pac-man ghosts on it to wear instead of a tiara. It looked brilliant sitting in all my curls
What was the agenda of the day?
XC: We started letting in guests at 11.30, ceremony started at 11.45, and we had to be out of the room for 12.30 so they could set it up for the convention to use.
Zelly: We didn’t actually KNOW what was going to happen in the ceremony. Because we didn’t have to get a registrar out to the Hilton to conduct the ceremony, we asked our good friend Lizzie to conduct the whole thing for us, and she kept a lot of it a surprise. We WE’RE supposed to have our own wedding vows to say during the ceremony, but I had left the notebook it was in at home. And Tom, being Tom, totally forgot to write anything.
XC: Lizzie did a great job arranging the ceremony itself, corralling everyone and generally getting things done. Lizzie also surprised us with a wedding cake and little cupcakes for the guests, and our friend Daniel also brought along Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the guests. AND just before we finished up, we were treated to a special performance by the Tom Lehrer Memorial Singers!
Zelly: We were also asked to open our present that we received from the Gemucon committee, which was a brand new professional microphone for podcasting and ‘let’s plays’
What would you say was the geekiest part of the ceremony?
XC: We’re both massive nerds so I don’t think there was any single MOST geeky part of the ceremony. I was personally thrilled when Lizzie started by quoting The Princess Bride – but there were some great touches and moments. My favourites have to be the Wedding Conbadges we gave to everyone invited, and the Legend Of Zelda chest ring case – it made the noise and everything!
Zelly: I decided as soon as we got engaged that the theme of the wedding was going to be Video Games. So I spent weeks making these giant 8-bit flowers to have on display at the ceremony. There were little ribbons with 8-Bit sprites in the middle of them stuck to the back of the chairs. Our Best Friends Zack and Steph, who were the Maid of Honour and Best Man, dressed as Mario and Luigi at our request too. They looked brilliant.
I noticed each attendee had a special goody bag, what were inside these?
XC: We (Zelly mostly) worked really hard on those goody bags! We got them as plain paper bags and Zelly printed & pasted our wedding artwork onto each one, and we then decorated them with the hearts that were paint samples put through a heart-shaped punch.
Zelly: Those bags were a pain to make! I was so glad when I finally got them finished. I had paper cuts galore. We spent the afternoon before the wedding filling all of the bags (around 120 in total to make sure we had enough). Each bag had a glowstick necklace, a fortune cookie, 3 mini packets of Love Heart Sweeties and a tiny tube of bubbles that had a little love heart on the wand.
What was the best part of having a wedding at an anime con?
XC: The best part was being able to be ourselves and share the biggest moment of our lives with our friends.
Zelly: The best part for me was knowing that after the ceremony was over, I would get to spend a fantastic weekend partying with all of my friends.
XC: Carrying everything down to Birmingham from Glasgow – and getting the presents home again afterwards! We ended up with two huge suitcases stuffed to the gunwales as well as a dangerous amount of hand luggage. Fortunately we had our two best friends Zack & Steph helping us there and back.
Zelly: Yeah, transporting the stuff to and from Birmingham was the biggest issue for us, especially since I’m super paranoid that a courier would end up losing things. And I figured that we would have less stuff to bring home with us after offloading all the wedding favours. But we actually ended up with even more to bring home because we forgot that people were planning to bring us wedding gifts. Two of the gifts were so big that they took up one entire suitcase themselves. I’m just really glad we had Zack and Steph to help us back with everything.
Did you have any pre-wedding jitters over the weekend?
XC: Personally, I didn’t have time! As much as it would have been nice to sit back and enjoy the feeling, we realised that the time we’d spent on wedding planning was the time we’d usually spend on working out our plan of action for the weekend for Team Neko coverage. So once the wedding planning was all done and out the way, we then had to work out what we were doing for the convention itself.
Zelly: I didn’t really have any jitters right up until the last minute. It was when I was standing outside the door waiting for the music to start that I realised that it was all finally happening. Months of planning and stressing out were now over and this was the end result of all of that. And then I suddenly felt really nervous knowing that I was going to walk into that room, and everyone was going to be watching me. I got so worked up that I ended up running into the registrations room opposite and stealing a drink from one of the gophers bottle of water. It was a good thing that I had Steph with me to walk me down the aisle. I knew I would be fine with her there.
Would you recommend others to hold their wedding at conventions, any tips?
XC: If it’s right for you, it’s right for you, but be aware that it has its’ own difficulties. Like marriage itself – definitely not for the faint hearted!
Zelly: My tip would be NOT to have it early in the morning like we did. We wanted to make sure that the ceremony was done and dusted before the convention opening ceremony so that it conflicted as little as possible with the convention schedule. But that ended up adding some extra stress. And then a number of people couldn’t make it in the end because their trains wouldn’t get them in on time on the Friday morning.
Thank you for a great interview and I wish you all the best for your life together! Readers do check out Team Neko UK they photograph, video and blog about cons and the community from across the country!
Photo credits to Manga Girl, Pouncy and Team Neko UK for taking lovely photos from the big day!