Love is in the air at Comic-Con. After all, shared passions bring people together, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people who are more passionate than Comic-Con devotees — not everyone is willing to wait in a line for more than24 hours to see the creators of their favorite TV shows and movies. Comic-Con has served as the impetus for countless relationships and marriages over the years, and this year, Orlando Jones, an actor best known for his roles on fan favorite TV shows like Sleepy Hollow and American Gods, decided to make Comic-Con an even more integral part of couples’ stories: He wanted to perform weddings and vow renewals for couples at the convention.
“For me, it’s the greatest honor ever to be part of the most special day in somebody’s life,” Jones says. “I mentioned it to the people at SyFy, and they said, ‘What do you wanna do at Comic-Con?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t wanna promote anything, I want to marry people,’ and they were like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Fans wishing to marry or renew their vows could send the SyFy Twitter account a direct message, and the SyFy team scheduled a bevy of ceremonies for Jones (who is ordained in the Universal Life Church) to perform. By the end of the Con, Jones will have performed eight or nine weddings and 25 to 30 vow renewals, but fans are still trying to fit into his already packed schedule. “I have a bunch of people on my social media every day that are trying to come down and get scheduled,” Jones says. “I don’t know how we’re going to fit all these people in, but I’m going to do my best.”
The ceremonies take place in a little outdoor wedding chapel, just off Fifth Avenue in the heart of the Gaslamp District. It’s a chaotic area during Comic-Con, with marching bands and boisterous bystanders aplenty. And of course, plenty of passers-by recognize Jones. “[There are] just people coming by, yelling random, 'Mr. Nancy!’ ‘I loved you on Sleepy Hollow!’ Like a heckler in somebody’s wedding is a little crazy,” Jones says. But he takes his job seriously and tries to give each couple the best experience possible.
“Some people are really nervous, because it’s a wedding, and there are so many cameras and people, and some people are geeking out because it’s me doing it. Everybody had a different reaction,” Jones says. “The one that was the most difficult to get through without crying was a couple yesterday who wrote their vows. And the vows were just beautiful. And when you read them and they repeated them, they started to get emotional, so I started to get emotional, so suddenly all of our voices were cracking, and I was like, ‘OK, if I fall apart, she’s gonna go, so I’ve gotta hold it together here.’”
Before each vow renewal ceremony, Jones meets with the couple and brushes up on their story — how they met, how long they’ve been married, a cute way in which geek culture is a part of their life. He recounts those details to the audience (usually a mix of the couple’s friends, strangers off the street and, of course, members of the press) before launching into the ring swap. The rings are, invariably, geeky, which fits nicely with the bride’s bouquet made of comic book pages (the bride and groom can select costume pieces from an array SyFy has provided, including the ever-popular Lego bowtie). The couple kiss, then Jones sends them on their merry way, toward cupcakes and photo opps.
It’s heartwarming to see love in so many different forms. Some renewing couples had been married for a few years, while others were reaffirming their love for each other decades after they originally married. All share a deep love for Comic-Con and geek culture and — most importantly — each other.
Joshua and Francheska Buonocore, from Orlando, met their friends, Marcus and Kathryn Lubich, from San Diego, in the line to get into Hall H at Comic-Con in 2009 — both couples wanted to see the Twilight panel. The Lubiches weren’t married at the time, but the Buonocores (who have been married for 16 years) flew out to their wedding last year. Fittingly, they were all in Hall H again before their joint vow renewal ceremony but had to bow out early this year. “We left Hall H to come here to do this, we left Hall H early,” Joshua Buonocore says. “It’s fun.”