COSPLAY DIARIES: These Are Not the Bridesmaids You Are Looking For


[I’d like to thank Robin Shepard, who submitted this story after I begged nagged encouraged her to share this adventure of her son’s Star Wars Halloween wedding.  Thank you, Robin! — Kammie]


In a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leia was led in chains by Darth Vader.  She looked up to see that Han Solo was already standing in front of the altar, where their sentence would be carried out by the Emperor.  As she approached, she and Han looked at each other, anticipating what was to come next: torture, death, or both?  The Emperor promised them this and so much more – in the form of a lifetime of matrimony.  This was part of the script for my son’s cos-play wedding.

Darth leads Leia to her impending “doom”

My son, Alex, met his fiancée, Nancy, at one of the more geeky universities in Missouri where they embraced each other and the geek culture with a full body hug.  They hosted a four year running game of Dungeons & Dragons. For Christmas they would request D&D books, player grids, and multi-sided dice. It was inevitable that when they announced their engagement, the two would want a unique wedding.

The Emperor performed the ceremony

I think the conversation started by choosing a date that Alex could never forget for their anniversary.  What better date than Halloween? And if you are getting married on Halloween then you HAVE to have costumes? Right?  I mean, do you even have a choice?  (That was the story I remember, I asked Alex and Nancy for their input and their comments have been added.)

When Alex broke the news to me – that they were serious about a Halloween wedding and they were going to have a Star Wars theme – he was scared of what my reaction would be.  Honestly, my first reaction was concern about the logistics.  Halloween was on a Thursday, which I knew would make it difficult for some people to attend.  AND more importantly, some of the people on their guest list – like all of Alex’s cousins and Nancy’s sister – had small children.  I don’t know about you, but in our neck of the woods, trick-or-treating occurs after sundown and is the favorite holiday for children, aside from Christmas.  I could foresee the guests having to choose between taking their children trick-or-treating or attending the wedding.

Nancy: “We did worry about that. For a while, we were going to have the wedding on the weekend after or before, but we really wanted it to be on Halloween. Everyone would still get to dress up and we’d make sure we had a lot of candy for the kids. I even considered putting bowls of different candy on each of the tables so the kids could sort of go trick-or-treating between tables instead of house-to-house, but I think the Death Star piñata was a better solution.”

The Death Star pinata supplied the Halloween candy for the kids, and some fun for the adults, too.

So it was settled.  The bride and groom would be Princess Leia and Han Solo.  Several people warned me that Alex shouldn’t be Luke (as if Alex would make that kind of rookie mistake).

Nancy: “Yeah, we got that a lot, too.”

True confession?  I am not a big Star Wars fan.  I mean I’ve seen the movies…once.

Nancy: “You know, I’m not even as much of a fan as you’d think I’d need to be. It was just too much fun to pass up.”

My main stipulation was that I wanted to wear a pretty dress and not have my face covered with make-up.  I looked at all of the beautiful dresses that Padmé Amidala wore, and liked the variety of wardrobe choices I saw. (Yes, I know she is Leia’s mother, not Han’s, but can YOU find a picture of Han’s mother?)  Padmé’s most well-known image is a red dress with white makeup, but Alex complained that the look was too iconic.  (I think that has to be the only time that phrase has been used in a wedding discussion.)  Plus, the full-face white make-up was asking a bit too much.  I decided, instead, to use Padmé as inspiration, rather than replicate any of her dresses exactly.  I found a long blue flowy dress (at the end of prom season) and Nancy’s mother offered to sew me a matching cape.  It was a powerful outfit, as you can see here:

Such power! If only this worked all of the time….

Nancy’s dad would go as Darth Vader, and her mother was Mon Mothma.

Nancy: “Apparently Leia’s adopted mother”

Mon Mothma, Mother of the Bride

Nancy’s mom worked the hardest on the costumes for this wedding.  In addition to my cape, she created her own dress, Nancy’s dress, and several Ewok costumes.

Soon the roles of the wedding party began to fill up.  They would be married by a friend who had been ordained online.  He played the Emperor, complete with rubber prosthetics.  The best man had to be Chewbacca (of course) and the other groomsmen were C-3PO and Luke Skywalker.

The guy’s side of the wedding party. Now you can see those fabulous Latvian boots!

Chewbacca’s costume was purchased, but C-3PO’s costume was truly a labor of love.  Alex, Nancy and their friends used a modeling style called PePaKuRa, which is a way to make 3D art with paper.  They printed out the pattern for C-3PO, cut out the pieces and glued them together into a 3D shape.  This paper model was epoxied, and as the pieces (each part of C-3PO was done separately) became stiff enough, the parts were covered with auto body filler, sanded, and  spray painted gold.


C-3P0’s torso in the making

The construction took months; I know because it occurred in my garage…right next to the construction of the Emperor’s throne.

Nancy: “…and took a lot of work to clean up. Never again will we sand Bondo outside of a specialized workspace.”

Unfortunately, C-3PO didn’t make it because he couldn’t get the time off work to travel to the wedding.  But he was there with us in spirit: in a stroke of genius, they gathered his pieces, stuck them in a back pack and they were carried in by Chewbacca.

Chewie makes a big entrance with C-3P0’s parts

Alex: “My best man took it on himself to spike the head when we were called into the reception.”

Nancy: “We also made a bunch of centerpieces for the tables using PePaKuRa.”

Alex: “We still have a paper TARDIS and Stargate in our basement. The general amount of time we spend putting together PePaKuRa was intense – Though we did inspire one of our friends to take it up as a hobby.”

Even though I do not sew, I wanted to contribute to the costumes, so I studied Han Solo with excruciating detail (Hello, young Harrison Ford.)  I decided that I could try and locate boots for Alex.  I found that there are two places to find a black, knee-high boot with no buckles:  a horseback riding accessory store (for $600), or a Soviet Army Surplus store (for much less — thank you, Google).   I went online and bought a pair of Soviet officer boots from Latvia.  As I type that sentence I still can’t believe I did that.  A couple of weeks later, a burlap package was actually delivered to my door.  Within it was a “Wal-Mart” type plastic bag, complete with Cyrillic writing, containing a pair of soviet officer boots.  I may not be able to sew but I do have some mad internet skills!

I was so excited about the bag from Latvia that I didn’t even get a picture of the boots!

My other contribution to the groom’s costume came just before the wedding day. Alex had let his hair grow for months so there would be plenty of “material” to work with.  Two days (TWO DAYS!) before the wedding he asked me if I thought the guy who cut my hair would mind cutting his — otherwise he was just going to go to Great Clips.  (Take a deep breath, all you Moms out there — just take a deep breath.)  Here’s when my years of experience and sage wisdom kicked in.

Me: “No son, you can’t go to Great Clips the morning of your wedding.”

I called my hairdresser, Jon, who owns a hair salon with his wife, Orene, and left a desperate voice mail. Coincidentally, they were also married on Halloween, and are usually closed on Halloween to celebrate their anniversary.  By some stroke of luck, she had planned to go in that morning for another client, and agreed to help Alex, too.  Or perhaps it was the panic in my voice that appealed to her sympathies.  Whatever it was, I owe a big shout out to Orene and John at A Company of Two in Brentwood, MO, for saving the day – and making Alex the most handsome Han Solo ever.

Alex: “I still go back there. These guys are awesome”

Happily ever after….

The bridesmaids were Imperial Guards.   It’s amazing what you can do with black chef’s uniforms, some knockoff Nerf guns, and some judicious application of black spray paint.

Leia and the Imperial Guardswomen

Some of the details of the rest of the family’s costumes:  My husband, Kevin, was Obi-Wan Kenobi, wearing a cloak sewn by his mother (I did mention that I don’t sew, right?)  Alex’s brothers also got into the theme.  Josh was a storm trooper, and Jake had an unusual request (unless of course you know Jake, then you would understand it was not unusual at all): he wanted to be a character who was shirtless.  We researched all of the Star Wars characters and finally settled on Starkiller from the Star Wars video game project, The Force Unleashed.  Thank the Force for costume rental shops!

The Shepards: Jake, Kevin, Robin (that’s me), Alex, and Josh

I was most worried about my mother’s reaction. She has some very definite ideas about what a wedding should be and what a wedding should NOT be.  As luck would have it, some of her “friends” told her that the idea of a theme wedding was awful, which kicked mom’s innate rebelliousness into full gear.  Out of sheer defiance, she proclaimed that it was going to be the “best wedding ever” and informed her friends that they were just getting old (or something like that; I’m fuzzy on the details).  She decided to be a royal queen – a decision made from watching The Price is Right, which just goes to show you that you never know where inspiration might come from.

Halloween night turned out to be rainy and cold.  Parents and kids alike were happy to be inside, where the party was rocking and the treats were plentiful.  Between the horrible weather and the amount of fun and candy, the children thought that this was a really special Halloween.

Nancy: “I think everyone did. I lost count of how many people told us it was hands down the best wedding they’d ever been to, or thought they would ever go to.”

Because this wedding was so different, the bride and groom were able to dispense with the traditions that didn’t make sense for them.  I have watched every Star Wars movie and even some of The Clone Wars, but I can say without a doubt that this was the Best Star Wars Episode ever!

Looking for R2-D2?  He was the cake!
Looking for R2-D2? He was the cake!

Wedding photography by Shira Photography, St. Louis, MO.




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