My book, role-playing and puzzle themed wedding!

August 24, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Family, Nerd Topics, Wedding by Kristina Horner

Joe and I have officially been married for almost four months now, which is amazing on two counts: 1. because that feels like a super long time and I still feel so happy and lucky and 2. because there were days I told Joe we were only doing some of our ridiculous wedding ideas so that I could write a blog post about it all later. The fact that I haven’t done it yet astonishes me, but on the other hand, I was so thrilled to be done with the wedding that it’s been hard to do literally anything else related to it.

Time and space have finally given me the energy I needed to put this together. Because if I’m being honest – we put on a damn cool wedding, and I literally can’t wait to see people’s reactions.

I’m not even sure where to start. So here’s a picture of Joe and I looking happier than we’ve ever looked on the actual day of the wedding:

I guess I’ll try to go in order.

The very, very first thing that inspired this wedding was my insane desire to have a book arch. You know that standard floral arch people often get married under? Yeah. I wanted mine to be made out of actual, literal books. I’m not high maintenance at all, guys. Joe’s dad was a saint and took it upon himself to make this dream a reality for me, and that jumpstarted us into hyperdrive for the rest of our wedding’s theme.

The second thing that was purchased was my dress. I struggled with my initial wedding dress search because I really didn’t know what I wanted. “Something that doesn’t actually look too much like a wedding dress,” I would say to baffled shop owners as I perused their endless racks of vaguely different white gowns. “Maybe something that makes me look like a wood nymph,” I said a few times, not even really knowing myself what that meant. “Sparkly?” I’d compromise, when my fitting attendant would start to look exasperated.

And then I found this:

Everyone always says that like, time will stop, and everyone will forget to breathe as a collective gasp encircles the planet, and I’ll be honest — I thought everyone was being a bit silly about ~the magic of dress shopping~. I tried on some nice dresses. I had a few options that I “could get married in, I guess”.

But when I walked out of the fitting room wearing this dress, a hush literally descended across Alfred Angelo. I think my mom immediately burst into tears. The group at the next mirror-station over even stopped what they were doing to stare at me, and said, “….wow. That’s the one.”

So we bought it. I didn’t try on a single other dress. And then we lost it, because Alfred Angelo is the worst and went out of business without warning anyone, bailing on thousands of orders. But – then we found another one just like it online from a second-hand dress shop. But that’s a story for another time.

Joe and I started our wedding day out with a ‘first look’ on the balcony of our suite in the Washington Athletic Club. It was a beautiful, elegant spot for us to capture this special moment, and oh yeah — I wore shark hands.

There’s a bit of backstory here, but I’ll shorten it just enough to say: the night before the wedding, Joe mentioned that with less than 24 hours to go before saying “I do”, the only thing that could possibly still be a dealbreaker would be if he found out I had sharks for hands.

So my bridesmaids and I used Amazon Prime Now to get these little devils delivered to our hotel the very next morning. And this is how Joe and I started the road to our marriage:

When it came to planning this wedding, I wanted to do something that really and truly represented Joe and I as a couple, highlighting the things we each love — but moreso the things we love together. It took a fair amount of ideating, and many Pinterest boards, but we landed on books (me) and role-playing games (him). The cross section of that was our shared love of escape rooms, which I’ll come back to later. The whole thing combined nicely into a larger “storytelling” theme, which was subtle and yet represented in every nook and cranny of the event, if that makes any sense at all.

First I’ll talk about the books. We incorporated them everywhere.

It started with our invitations, which looked like little novels. These were designed by the same lovely person who designed my website theme – she designed many elements of our wedding!

We had to hand cut those edges, people. The dedication started from day one.

wedding invitations shaped like a book

Then, in keeping with the theme, the very first thing guests saw upon entering the venue was this large book sign, welcoming them inside.

They were not invited to sign a guestbook, because guest books are boring and who goes back and reads them, honestly? Instead, we instructed guests to choose a figure on this giant framed picture, and color it in to look like them. They were now characters in our story.

We kept our guests busy before the ceremony with trivia we had included on the back of our programs. In hindsight, programs were one of those things I probably didn’t need to spend the money on, but how cute were they?

fun and nerdy wedding programs

And of course, when they went to choose a seat… there was no bride or groom side. We had our guests make a much more important choice.

I bought a heart-shaped paper-puncher and cut literally thousands of hearts from book pages, which we scattered all over the place.

book arch wedding

I had zero interest in paying for live flowers, so my bridesmaids carried “book-quets” instead, made out of beautiful classic books I purchased from Barnes and Noble. Any flowers you do see are fake ones I bought on sale at Jo-Ann and hot glued just about everywhere.

bridesmaids bouquets made of books

Even our wedding cake looked like a stack of books. And before anyone says anything – yes. We’re aware the cake shop got the name of the D&D Player’s Guide wrong. *facepalm*

book themed wedding cake

We had a number of desserts available, including the above cake, which included cake toppers that were little medieval versions of us painted by one of our bridesmaids.

Medieval cake toppers

We also had cannoli baked by Joe’s mother, which, unbeknownst to me, were unicorn-themed.

Unicorn themed cannoli

Next up was Joe’s inspiration. I’m almost more proud of the role-playing game elements of the wedding to be honest, because it’s all just so, so fun. My favorite bit was the boutonnières, which we made out of gaming dice. Honestly, out of everything at the entire wedding, these are the piece I still think about and just smile. Our wedding was so cool.

boutonniere made of dice

We supplemented the book decor with dice, using large paper ones we’d nicked from a nerdy charity gala months earlier, and actual D20s in our wedding colors that were scattered pretty much everywhere there wasn’t already a paper heart or a book.

wedding dice D&D

Not to mention the dragons and unicorns we slipped in wherever we could. Because it’s us.

unicorn wedding

We gave our wedding party different role names, because everything about weddings is so formal and weird and we wanted to fix that. Our officiant was the “Wedding Master”, our parents were the “Elders”. Our flower girl and ring bearer were the “flower fairy and ring guardian” and we treated our wedding party like an actual adventuring party, giving everyone party roles.

Wedding party is adventuring party

dungeons and dragons wedding

I gave our flower fairy two options for her headwear. We made her a flower crown, and at the last second, we also made her a unicorn headband.

She chose the unicorn headband.

She also dropped more of those paper hearts from her little basket instead of flower petals, because obviously.

Our ring guardian was way too young to perform the actual duties expected of him, so we gave him a sword and sent him on his way. It was a disaster. We (and the entire audience) loved every second of it. Here he is, going the wrong way:

ring bearer going rogue

We also veered pretty far from tradition and threw in a few of our own… like rolling for initiative to see who got to say their vows first during the ceremony. We used a giant D20 in our wedding colors that we had commissioned from on Etsy.

I rolled an 18, beating Joe and setting the tone for our entire marriage.

rolling for initiative at wedding

Most people would say this was probably enough. Fun thematic elements all over the place, plenty of crafts, many ways for our guests to be continuously delighted and engaged over the course of the evening.

Good job, bride and groom, on an excellent wedding!

…Have you met Joe and I?

This wedding was just getting started.

When our guests made their way to cocktail hour, they were greeted with this set of puzzle pieces. They were instructed to find their name, then take the puzzle piece with them to the table number they had been assigned to.

wedding puzzle seating chart

Once they arrived at their table and met their other table mates, they would soon realize that their puzzle pieces went together, creating a larger puzzle with strange letters on it. If they had assembled the puzzle correctly, these letters would give them instructions.

Following the instructions, which actually included deconstructing parts of the puzzle and putting it back together another way, gave guests additional instructions on how to use their seemingly innocuous table number to light up the random wooden box that had been on their table. Surprise! It was a lantern. I don’t have a photo of one lit up, but imagine it lights up.

escape room wedding

Then — if guests tried to lift the table number back off of the lanterns, they would find that they were magnetized, so this action would reveal a trick opening on top. Hidden inside the lantern (they were there all along!!) was a set of “quest logs”, which instructed guests to find a series of additional puzzles around the venue.

Every table succeeded in lighting up their lanterns, and some people dropped off after that in favor of chatting and drinking. We expected this. A very large handful, however, took the next stage very seriously. Joe had created four ingenious stations with various kinds of puzzles to solve, each one sending each “adventurer” further along a storyline we’d created. They had to play a game against an invisible foe, assist a wizard with making a potion of courage, and help a giant up a tricky set of stairs.

puzzle wedding, escape room wedding

puzzle room wedding

escape room wedding

escape room wedding

escape room wedding

escape room wedding

Each puzzle station gave them a code, which they’d then use to open a lockbox, which contained stickers for them to put on their quest logs. A completed quest log would have one final meta-puzzle to solve within in, which gave our guests the final code for the final lock box. Once guests were able to open this final box (thus completing their adventure and arriving at the wedding of Queen Kristina and King Joe), they were able to take a wedding favor as their prize.

D20 dice wedding favors

The night happened in a blur. I am so, so thankful for our incredible photographer and videographer for capturing the event in such detail, because I hardly remember even being there. I do remember feeling incredibly happy — because I knew the whole experience was almost over, but also because the joy we could see on the faces of our family and friends made all the stress and work of the last year feel so completely worth it.

This wedding would not have been possible without the incredible support of our friends and families. I cannot tell you how many hours of their time people gave us to make this as incredible as it turned out. I honestly don’t know why we have friends anymore at all. But apparently, they like us a lot, because they helped us pull off this ridiculous, gargantuan thing and they still want to hang out with us today.

There were even a few surprises from some of those amazing people, including warm milk and cookies that showed up late into the night from our friend Katrina, and the t-shirt slingshot that was brought out during our best man Alexander’s toast. Yes. I’m serious. He flung out t-shirts that said “I went to Joe and Kristina’s wedding and all I got was hit in the face with this shirt.”

A lot of people say your wedding won’t be the best day of your life. That it won’t be the day you’re the most in love. That many things will go wrong, and that you’ll laugh, and you’ll have great stories, and you’ll move on and do many bigger and more important things with your life.

…I dunno, man.

slow motion book pages wedding picture

We had a pretty excellent wedding.

Pink haired bride, dyed hair bride

And I think for both of us, seeing the culmination of all the hard work we were both respectively putting in, for months, and how happy we’d made pretty much everyone we know… I think we fell in love all over again that night.

dyed hair bride

I know there are amazing things on our horizon, and doing things like having children and creating a home together and growing old will definitely all be amazing things, and I know we’ll love each other a little more every day.

mopop wedding, dyed hair bride

But our wedding was really, really goddamn cool.

All I wanted – my mission statement throughout this entire process – was for people to say they’d never been to a wedding quite like ours before.

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that was repeated to me, verbatim, at least fifty times over the course of that night. I’ve never smiled so hard in my whole life.

nerdy wedding

Even though this wedding made me crazy for many months… I wouldn’t change a thing.


14 Comments

14 Comments

Sarah says:

This has me so inspired for my own! It looks amazing Kristina! My fiance is convinced he wants something small and simple but I still want it to be interesting and fun.

I totally think both are doable! Good luck with everything!

Jennifer says:

I’ve watched you both on youtube for a while and this is totally the kind of wedding I would expect from both of you creative geniuses. I m only envious that I could not go, but I’m so glad you shared pictures. Because I am totally bookmarking this as inspiration for a wedding (or at least a huge party) I will someday have.

Haha that’s so sweet, thank you!

Anne says:

I love it! I’m in the middle of wedding planning myself and maybe I’ll use some of your stuff for inspiration! The puzzle quest is incredible.

Please send photos if you end up doing anything similar to us!! Good luck with the planning!

Brittany says:

This is, without a doubt, the absolute coolest wedding I’ve ever seen! I love love love so many of your ideas and decorations (and that dress!). I’m so glad that the day was everything you imagined, and I’m so glad you decided to share it with us. It looks like it was beautiful and magical and fantastic!

gah, thank you so much! <3

Kelly says:

I love it! Well done on pulling off something that incredible and elaborate. Xx

Deanna Frost says:

YOU ROCKED IT! Congratulations to you both! First, for integrating your passions; Second, for going all out to make novelty and joy for your friends! I wish you happy homecomings, forever.
Deanna (Coral’s mom – Village Theatre – Issaquah)

Thanks so much, Deanna! That is all very kind of you to say.
Also, I’m tickled that you still follow what I’m up to. 🙂

Oh my goodness, you were not kidding! The puzzle element of your wedding sounds incredible! I love that you guys rolled D20’s for your vows. Amazing<3 And you look beautiful!

hahhaa I knew you’d appreciate it!! <3
Thanks, friend!

Lydia says:

Amazing! First off, congratulations! I couldn’t think to wish either of you any better than this. Very wonderful. The pictures look absolutely stunning and and of course, thanks to the combined brilliance of you both, completely unique. I’ve been trying to check up on how you’ve been doing on and off ever since the start of the good ole hypercube days and I’m very glad you are doing so well. Keep kicking butt.

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