Archive for April, 2009

Zero Gravity? How does that work?

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The first question people ask when I tell them about my wedding is: “Zero Gravity? How does that work?”

Apparently, not everyone has heard of the vomit comet. Starting in 1959, NASA ran flights which allowed passengers 30 seconds of weightlessness at a time. These were primarily research flights for scientists. The movie Apollo 13 was filmed in such a plane. In 2004 the Zero Gravity company started offering weightless flights to the public.

The passengers don’t achieve true “zero gravity” in physics terms. Apparently it’s referred to as microgravity or simulated zero gravity, because technically, it’s not zero gravity. Here’s a discussion of the terminology.

The plane flies in a series of “parabolic arcs,” which means it kind of flies in a roller coaster hill-like pattern:

So, just like riding a roller coaster, you feel weightless coming down the hill:

Why do you feel weightless at that point? I never took high school physics, and neither did Noah, but I learned a lot from 3-2-1 Contact, which is also where I first heard about the Vomit Comet. Astronauts in orbit are not really “weightless.” They have the same mass as always, but they don’t feel gravity. Astronauts are in a state of free fall, falling towards the Earth at the same rate as their shuttlecraft. They are still effected by gravity – Earth’s gravity keeps them in orbit.

What happens on a roller coaster, in the Zero G plane, and on a space shuttle is that the contact forces you usually feel are removed. Here is a really good article about contact forces. Basically, when you sit in a chair, the chair is exerting a force on you, and you are exerting force on the chair. If you and your chair are suddenly dropped from a great height, like on the “Power Tower” at Cedar Point, you and the chair are falling at the same rate, so you’re no longer feeling the contact force.

In the Zero G plane ride, the passengers and plane are falling towards the earth at the same time, so with the contact force removed you just float around in there.

Our scientist friends have cleverly suggested we could just get married while sky diving, because technically, it’s the same thing. However, lots of people have had skydiving marriages. We want to be the first couple to get married in simulated zero gravity. Besides, my dress is made for space, and this way the wind won’t mess up my hair.

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How much does it cost?

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I had always assumed it was crass to talk about the cost of one’s wedding, but because we’re getting married on the zero gravity plane, the cost seems to be the second thing people ask about, right after saying, “Zero gravity? How does that work?” – a question I will answer in a subsequent post as we build our FAQ.

Tickets on the zero gravity plane, information you could easily find at, cost:

$5,400 per person

The website says $5,200, but this is after tax. Noah and I need to pay for our tickets, and our officiant, a camera person, and some witnesses.

After talking with Zero G for several months, they came to the conclusion we would have to rent a whole section of the plane if we wanted to do a marriage ceremony (apparently there are three sections which can be closed off). A section is twelve seats, and we need to fill all twelve (or pay for them, at least).

Fortunately, another couple is planning on getting married on the same flight. They’re from Vancouver, and I’m sure I’ll talk about them more later. We decided to pool our resources and split the tickets. It’s possible Noah and I only need to buy six tickets.

However, if the Vancouver couple can’t fill enough seats or come up with their half of the money, we have to fill all twelve seats. So the total cost is:

From $32,400 to $64,800

So that’s the equivalent of one two years at NYU, or a couple of new cars. The average New York City wedding costs about $19,888 and $33,147 according to (Strangely it’s more expensive in the Michigan town where I’m from: $22,489 and $37,481.) Granted, the average cost includes the reception and rings and everything, and I’m only talking about the ceremony.

Originally, we were hoping to find sponsors. After one year of not making any progress on that front, we knew that if this was going to happen, we would have to foot most of the bill ourselves. We’re still hopeful that our officiant and/or cameraperson can pay some or all of their own ticket, but even sending a single cameraman was beyond the budget of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway.

Even though it seemed impossible, Noah found a way to pay for the tickets… but we would still love to find some sponsors. If you’re reading this and have a business you’d like to promote either in zero gravity or in the credits of our wedding video, which will surely be seen by millions of people on the internet, please get in touch by emailing

Our guest list is not final, but a rough list might look something like this:

1. Aza (Vancouver Groom)
2. Mel (Vancouver Bride)
3. Noah (groom)
4. Erin (me)
5. Officiant (An astronaut?)
6. Vancouver camera person
7. Our camera person
8. Vancouver wedding guest 1 (wedding guests can act as witnesses)
9. Vancouver wedding guest 2
10. Our wedding guest 1
11. Our wedding guest 2
12. Spare slot if one of us has an extra guest, we end up getting a fashion photographer, etc.

Is anyone interested in knowing how much the dress cost? Because I’ll tell you, I just assumed it was rude to talk about it.

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Sudden Change of Date, Location

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The hardest part of planning our wedding so far has been not having a date. We’ve been in talks with the Zero G company since the beginning of the year, and at first, it seemed like they might do a flight out of New York later this year. That fell through, and then we were going to buy tickets for an unannounced flight out of Boston on June 13th.

Today the Boston flight fell through, so now it looks like we’re getting married on June 20th in Cape Canaveral, Florida. That was one of our possible locations before I went to Japan, so it’s not totally unexpected. It is troublesome, because Boston is a $30 bus ride from New York City, whereas Florida is a $200+ flight, and we have to rent a car, and so forth.

The number one question people ask when you tell them you’re engaged is “So when is the wedding?” followed up by “Where?”

My wedding is unusual in many ways, but with just two months to go, I still don’t have a definite date or location. I thought we were buying the Zero G tickets yesterday, for sure, but our purchase still hasn’t happened yet. My dad has been asking me when the zero gravity flight will take place for over a year, and I still don’t have a definite answer.

Here are some pictures of the final dress, although very small:

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Registries Added, and a Dress Preview

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My mom keeps asking for pictures of the dress, so here is a sneak preview!

Today I added a bunch of registry information to the site. Noah and I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment with no counterspace and exactly one cupboard, so instead of physical gifts, we would much prefer if you bought shares in our honeymoon or our ceremony using Honeyfund, or more contributed more directly via paypal.

If you’re more traditional and prefer to give us physical gifts, today I registered at Bed Bath and Beyond, (I need how many place settings?!), and I will be adding to my Amazon gift registry until all the receptions are complete. Apparently the Bed Bath and Beyond registry will be open for two years from the date of the ceremony. My regular amazon wishlist is here, but that’s not the same as the gift registry.

The absolute best gift we could hope to get at this point is an addition to our wedding party. If you’re reading this, and you’re available the weekend of June 13th and can be in Boston and pay for at least half of the cost of a ticket on the zero gravity plane, by all means, it would be an honor and a pleasure if you could join us. Email us at noahanderin (at) gmail (dot) com.

This image below is of one of the dress makers working on the rough dress. There are more images of the rough dress here, it’s not made with the final material.

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The Story of the Ring

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I knew I was going to propose to Erin by mid-2005, but I also knew that the ring was going to have to be special… I couldn’t bear the idea of going in to a jewelry store and buying one… it’s just too… ugh. It’s not like there are any heirlooms in my family, so instead I started to research the wedding ring tradition and all the many various different types of rings from all over the world since it started in ancient Egypt. I’m sure I looked at thousands of different examples, in books, at art museums in New York and different on-line galleries on the internet, and eventually I narrowed it down to a particular style from the Byzantine era. I guess that was maybe the end of 2006?

I started looking through different lots of ancient rings on on-line auctions, and pretty soon I knew exactly what I was looking for: it was a style of engagement ring made of bronze with a man and a woman holding hands carved into the face. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find *exactly* what I was looking for, and enlisted the help of a few antiquities specialists who dealt in ancient Greek and Roman rings. Finally, in mid-2007, a contact-of-a-contact found one, in just about Erin’s size, in precisely the style I had hoped, from around the 5th Century AD.

Unsure of what the right time to propose might be, I carried it in my pocket for about six months. Around December of that year, Erin started to bug me for some kind of ring, something to signify she was taken… and I figured it was probably time to propose. I promised we could get one on our anniversary, and we went to a bunch of stores, but I demurred on every ring she suggested… I think she was kind of disappointed. I still didn’t know exactly how to pop the question… and Erin hates to be the center of attention, and I didn’t want to embarrass her, so eventually it was the end of a long anniversary dinner and drinks… and I took out the ring and asked her to marry me. I didn’t get down on one knee because I knew Erin would be mortified… unfortunately, this is perhaps more than a formality, so your soon-to-be-betrothed knows that you are serious serious, because the exchange went something like this:

Noah: Will you marry me?

Erin: What, right now?

Noah: (suddenly uncertain) Uh, yes. Will you marry me?

Erin: You mean really? Do you have the ring and everything?

Noah: (really nervous now) Uh, yes – I have it right here. Will you marry me?

Erin: Well, yeah; I guess.

So with the immortal words, “well, yeah; I guess,” the deed was done. It’s not like there was really any doubt as to her answer, but still. So stressful.

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