An image of a two couples kissing at their Second Life wedding

“3” by Curl Swindlehurst, click image for her page on Flickr

Last night I was invited to be my friend’s Maid of Honour in her upcoming Second Life wedding. After I instantly and wholeheartedly accepted, I got right down to the serious business of Honour Maidening in Second Life Weddings.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit however, that despite my lofty appointment, I have never even attended a Second Life wedding! Talk about under-qualified! But being the intrepid woman that I am (at least in Second Life), I’ve jumped into the planing of one with both feet, figuring they can’t be nearly as complicated emotionally trying affairs as weddings in RL, right?

I like context, which to me means that I like to know something about the history and background of things before I attempt them. So I decided to a do a little bit of research into the Second Life wedding thing, because to be honest, I feel like I don’t even know what I don’t know.

I’m not talking about partnerships here, I’m talking about weddings. While I can’t seem to find any hard data (how reliably unsurprising), my diligent profile surfing over the past five years tells me that partnerships in Second Life are fairly common. Introduced in 2004, a partnership is “a vanity display for social purposes only (and) does not alter in world permissions, group abilities, support benefits, and so forth” according to the SL Knowledge Base entry on the subject. For $L10, you can effectively buy a license to display your partner’s name on your profile. Dissolving the partnership costs $L25. Being partnered however, doesn’t necessarily imply that you’ve had a wedding, or even that you’ve gotten “married”.

Clearly, Second Life Weddings are a big deal:

  • A quick search on Google for the term “Second Life Wedding” generates over 57,000 results, including links to machinima YouTube videos, personal stories, and of course the usual “my husband’s/wife’s SL relationship broke up my real life marriage” listings.
  • There is a magazine that focuses on the subject of SL weddings, complete with advertisements for venues, dresses, animations, accessories, and decor.
  • There’s a Second Life Wedding flickr pool featuring over 500 images of of nuptial bliss.
  • The Second Life Marketplace will offer you over 50,000 products related to “Weddings”.
  • The most expensive wedding dress on the Second Life Marketplace I found is being offered for L$12,000 (that’s over $50 USD), so this stuff doesn’t come cheap.

For both men and women, a wedding can be one of the most memorable experiences in one’s life. I wonder how this vivid emotional experience compares and contrasts to its digital counterpart? Are these experiences similarly impactful or significant? Besides the obvious, is there anything missing? What’s augmented? Is it role play? Or does one actually come out the other end feeling “just married”? Does one’s self concept, or one’s view of a second life relationship change during or after the event?

I’m hoping to hear from other people who have had first hand experiences either attending Second Life weddings, or have had their own, so that I can pick their brains on how these things work – socially and mentally. So please, if you’re in that group, or have heard a few stories from a friend of a friend, or even if you simply have an opinion on the matter, do let me know. I’m all ears!

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Yordie Sands
Second Life avatar, entrepreneur, club owner, and social media socialiser. I photograph, film and write about the virtual experience: sex and relationships, virtual community, music, art and Second Life.
  • Yordie Sands

    /me blushes. I got married in SL once. My fiancee wanted it. I thought it was silly. He spent well over US$100 on it. And that didn’t include any expenses for the wedding or reception venues. It could have easily been three times more expense. But here’s the thing… erm, it was wonderful. It was magic. I know it sounds silly to some, but it was the best day I ever spent in Second Life. Jus sayin

    • Yordie Sands

      Ok, I see that VB pulled out her wedding pics, so here’s mine.

      Photographers Photos

      Geez, only 2010. It seems like an eternity has passed.

      • Ravanel Griffon

        Wow, I had no idea, Yordie! When I met my current boyfriend in LotRO (about 2 years ago), he wanted an in-game wedding as well. Just like you, I thought it would be a bit silly, but alright, since he wanted it… We actually had already organized a friend who would do the ceremony, maids of honour etc… but somehow we never pulled it off, and I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.

        I’m okay with it, though: instead my boyfriend moved in RL to the Netherlands and went living with me. Not much to complain about! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        (Weddings in LotRO don’t happen that much as in SL, though. I have never heard of one on my own server, where I know most people. It might be more usual on RP servers, )

        That said, I *love* your wedding pictures. And it’s cool to hear that it was such a special and wonderful day, even though you thought it would be silly. Perhaps I did miss something after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Yordie Sands

          Hi Ravanel… first, I found the LOTRO post to be fascinating. I have so little experience in other games, never really get past shoot’em up phase usually. Back in olden times I did, but not in the past ten years.

          Yeah, it seemed so silly when my guy proposed the wedding. I thought he was joking, which kind of surprised him. I think, in this way, guys are very romantic.

          I’ll bet you’d be surprised how wonderful an SL wedding or any virtual wedding can be if you just let go and hurl yourself into it. It does take a great deal of planning and saying your vows is a total nerve wracking experience, but if you love the guy, the experience almost has to touch you deeply. And hey, you can be more relaxed, in your jeans and a sweater, sipping a soda while it’s all happening. hehe

          Even now you two could do it. Just sayin’

          • Vaneeesa Blaylock

            Oh nice one Yordie!

            Now we’re gonna have to get LotRO avatars to attend this thing! ๐Ÿ˜›

            (if, like, we even get invited! O_o

            • Yordie Sands

              Like, if. Like, even. chuh, yanno?

  • Vaneeesa Blaylock

    Great post Becky, OH! and Congratulations you honorfull maid!

    You ask if an SL wedding is RP — hahaha — how is an RL wedding NOT RP!?!?

    Just 14 months ago, the shi shi event of the ages was held at Covent Garden, London, the Blaylock-Moo “UnWedding”:

    • Yordie Sands

      VB, those are amazing pics! Of course, you had an UN-Wedding! That is soooooo, Vaneeesa!! And wow, soooo many pics. Moo and you, such a cute UN-couple. (You continue to amaze as I discover the details of your life.)

      I have all my wedding pics on Flicrk but i’m the only one who can acces them (kinda says a lot, huh) but the blog has enough to give a feel.

    • Becky

      What an interesting idea.. that we are role playing in real life. Of course, you’re right. We take on roles all of the time – whether that be the role of daughter, sister, girlfriend, lover, wife, mother, employee, colleague, boss… hmmm… if you think of it that way though… when are we not roleplaying? And if we are always roleplaying, then life is nothing more than playing a neverending series of roles! Sounds like Shakespeare was right after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Yordie Sands

        I couldn’t agree more, Becky & Vaneeesa. Once you start looking at roles, you realize how many you play. This is why is cracks me up when someone who plays a DJ (for example) in SL is shocked to learn they are playing a role. They may be an insurance agent IRL with no expertise in DJ’ing in RL, but stil feel that they are not playing a role as DJ. I find this more and more interesting once you look at it. It’s all part of what this salon is about at its core i suppose.

        • Ravanel Griffon

          Totally agree, a wedding seems to me ultimate RP, even iRL. Everyone has certain expectations, there are all these set steps and traditions… it makes me shiver really. Somehow I can be a bit allergic to that kind of stuff.

          • Vaneeesa Blaylock

            gawd… to think… what would Bill have done with The Internet…

          • Becky

            And these expectations seem to be no less prevalent in SL! I’m finding that the many different people surrounding this event have just a many different expectations! (Honestly, I’m continuously suprised by my continuous surprise).

            My friend is a serious “family RPer” – a subject for a whole other post. Already, her various relations are displaying emotions and actions that are exactly what you might expect in RL. What a laboratory!

            I have to say I’m having an interesting time mapping RL wedding traditions to SL ones. I’m afraid to say that I really enjoy, and rely on, RL tradtions, and the intricate traditions involved in weddings are no different.

            One of those major traditions is that of roles in a wedding party. As tradition demands of an RL Maid of Honour, I’ve already assumed the dual role of half master organiser and half shoulder to lean on. I’m the back up for everything that may go wrong with my finger in ever pie. I’m also there to be the Bride’s big sister, to shoulder my share of the weight. And the weights are many: her anxieties in balancing what her family members wants and her own; her frustrations with the bridegroom who (typically) isn’t as interested in these kinds of things as she is; her conflictedness over who to involve – in the party itself, as guests to the ceremony, her hen night, bridal shower, and reception.

            What I’ve found though, is that tradition offers a helpful heuristic when navigating the minefield of human emotions. They can be an essential “what to do when you’ve haven’t got a clue” answer to nearly every question. In this way, tradition can be a helpful crutch: a handy get-out-of-jail card that you can pull out and say “see, this is why you can’t do that, so stop being so selfish and remember what’s really important here”.

            I know, how very conservative. How herdlike and how uncreative. But I guess, it may be why she chose me for this job? She wants the faery tale wedding, and who are we to judge that that is in anyway wrong or right? Personally, I feel somewhat relieved that young people today still want to enact those traditions that bind us to what is so beautiful and so artful about our past.

            And hell, she can always have a Pirate Wedding the next go around ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • Yordie Sands

              I just need to say this again. The one SL wedding I had, and the only SL wedding I’ll ever have, was wonderful. Regardless of all that happened in the following months, I can look at that day with a smile. Jus sayin

            • Eva Marie

              This is super interesting! The Boyfriend also mentioned that he thought an in-game wedding would be cool (we met on WoW, and I haven’t been around for a few days because he surprise visited for my birthday haha!)

              • Becky

                If you’re already together in RL, then a virtual wedding might be the ultimate dress rehearsal, short of the expense and time involved in an actual wedding. I would imagine that you’d have a much better feeling as to what to expect (between the two of you at least) and how you handle disagreements of this nature if you were to do that first. Good idea!

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