FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

When we tell people we’re getting married in zero gravity, they tend to ask the same questions. Here is a list of frequently asked questions:

Q. When and where are the two receptions?

Michigan Reception:
Sunday, September 20th, 2009, 4pm-9pm at the Ella Sharp Community Room in Jackson. Directions are here.

New York Reception: To Be Determined. We were thinking October of 2009, but we haven’t nailed down a location yet. At this rate it might not happen until December or January 2010. It did take us one and half years from getting engaged to having a ceremony.

Q. What about the honeymoon?
We’re going to have our honeymoon in Antarctica when we can afford it again. Despite the coverage on the Born Rich blog, alas, we were not.

*****Note to self: Update the FAQ to present tense!*****

Q. Zero gravity, huh? How does that work?
Q. How long are you weightless for?
Q. Isn’t that plane called the Vomit Comet? Won’t you throw up?
Q. How much does that cost?
Q. Who’s going with you? Are your parents going?
Q. Are you paying for your guests’ tickets?
Q. Are you going to film it? Or put it on the internet?
Q. Where is the plane flying from? And when?
Q. What is an “officiant”?
Q. Why is Richard Garriott your officiant?
Q. So you you’re having three receptions?
Q. What are you going to wear?
Q. If you’re wearing a dress, won’t people see your underwear?
Q. Wait a minute, that’s only simulated zero gravity! Why don’t you just jump out of a building or go skydiving? It would be the same thing!
Q. Will you be the first? Will you be in the Guinness book of World Records?
Q. Who came up with that idea?
Q. If you have that much money, why don’t you just buy an apartment?
Q. How high does the plane fly?
Q. How did you two meet?
Q. What do you two do for a living?
Q. Has Noah seen the dress?

Q. Zero gravity, huh?  How does that work?

A company called the Zero G Corporation flies an ordinary plane that’s been modified slightly – the plane flies in a series of roller coaster-like hills, and you’re weightless at the top of each hill.  You can read more about it on Zero G’s webpage, or my longer more detailed explanation of the physics involved here.

Q. How long are you weightless for?

The flight pattern is a series of 15 parabolas, and weightlessness lasts about 30 seconds for each one, so you’re weightless for a total of about seven and a half minutes.

We plan to perform most of the ceremony in 5 parabolas or less, in case we need to do second takes, then we’ll edit it into one coherent video.

Q.  Isn’t that plane called the Vomit Comet?  Won’t you throw up?

A lot of people throw up on their wedding day.  Most people don’t get sick from 15 parabolas.  In the old days, when the Vomit Comet was run by the military and scientists, they would do like 40 parabolas, and after 20 or so most people start to feel sick.

Q.  How much does that cost?

About $5,400 per person (after taxes).  You can read more about it here. Zero G made us buy 12 tickets in order to fill one whole section of the plane.  We didn’t plan on having a “platinum wedding,” but it is turning out that way.  Sure, we could have just bought 10 of our friends MacBook Air laptops, but those computers won’t last forever!

Q. Who’s going with you?  Are your parents going?

My parents are coming down to Florida to greet us when we get off the plane.  We offered to pay for my mom to go on the flight, but she’s afraid of roller coasters and won’t go. Here is our crew manifest, current as of 6/10/2009:

On the Plane (We need to fill 12 seats)
————-
1. Noah (groom)
2. Erin (me)
3. Officiant Richard Garriott / Lord British
4. Our (video) camera person through Zero G Corp
5. Our still Photographer TBD through Zero G Corp
6. Kari
7. Colin
8. Evonne
9. Johan
10. Matt (Erin’s brother)
11. Erin’s Mom
12. Erin’s Dad

Q. Are you paying for your guests’ tickets?

Noah’s paying about half the ticket price for many of our guests.

Q. Are you going to film it? Or put it on the internet?

Yes, of course. We’re anticipating local, national, and international news coverage on television and in traditional print media such as magazines and newspapers. Sometime this summer we’ll make a three to five minute cut of the ceremony video to put on youtube. At the time of this writing, a video of a 2008 Zero G flight has 17,000 views, and one 2006 wacky wedding video featuring Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has been viewed over 9,000,000 times.

We also intend to make a slightly longer cut of the film to screen at our New York reception, and at our more tradition Michigan reception.

Q. Where is the plane flying from? And when?

We wanted to fly out of New York, but there were no flights scheduled for New York this year. There was almost a flight out of Boston on June 13th, but it was canceled.

Our flight is out of Cape Canaveral, Florida on June 20th.

Q. What is an “officiant”?

An “officiant” is one who officiates. Instead of a priest or a pastor, it is possible to be married by a notary public or someone with a one-day designation to marry people. Laws vary by county regarding these regulations.

Q. Why is Richard Garriott your officiant?

Noah and I had discussed having an astronaut officiate our wedding. Sea captains can marry people, right? So why not astronauts? Buzz Aldrin was way too expensive, so Zero G suggested Richard Garriott.

Richard Garriott was the sixth private space explorer – apparently NASA carefully guards who can be called an “astronaut.” Garriott’s father was an astronaut, and growing up his family lived in a suburb where everyone’s dad was an astronaut.

We’re excited to have Garriott as our officiant because we hear he loves Dungeons and Dragons. (Noah is upset that our wedding is interfering with our Tuesday night gaming sessions.) Garriott is the creator of Ultima, a popular multi-player online game which Noah played growing up. In the game, Garriott is known as “Lord British”.

Garriott used his Ultima fortune to travel to the International Space Station through Space Adventures Inc. Space Adventures bought the Zero G Company, and Garriott sits on the Board of Directors.

Q. So you you’re having three receptions?

No! Just two. Please read this. We’ll have one informal reception in New York sometime over the summer, and a more formal reception in Michigan, possibly after Labor Day. Our wedding video will be screened at each reception.

We’re having a luncheon in Florida for our guests, and that’s it. Then we’re going to Disney World the next day. Noah and I will have an official honeymoon when we can afford it.

Q. What are you going to wear?

I recently flew to Japan to obtain this space wedding dress by Eri Matsui. It was featured in New York’s Fashion Week in 2009. I will be the first person to test out the dress’s capabilities.

Noah is having a custom tux made by J. Lucas Clothiers.

Q. If you’re wearing a dress, won’t people see your underwear?

No, because the bottom half of the dress is secretly pants. You can’t tell from the still photos, but it’s really awesome.

Q. Wait a minute, that’s only simulated zero gravity! Why don’t you just jump out of a building or go skydiving? It would be the same thing!

Thanks, nerds in the audience. First of all, lots of people have had sky-diving weddings, so that’s not particularly special. Second, I’m terrified of sky diving. Third, that’s not an astronaut-like experience at all! Our whole wedding is space-themed, and we can afford a lot, but we can’t afford the millions for a low-earth orbit wedding or a trip to the international space station.

Q. Will you be the first? Will you be in the Guinness book of World Records?

We’re applying to the Guinness Book. The Zero G Corporation has had several marriage proposals but no weddings.

Q. Who came up with that idea?

Noah kept saying he wanted to get married in space. We probably won’t be able to afford to go to space for at least another 25-50 years (maybe for our anniversary?) so when the Zero G plane opened to the public, I suggested we get married on one of their flights as a compromise. Frankly, I need the health insurance. Noah loved the zero gravity idea, and we decided to go for it.

Q. If you have that much money, why don’t you just buy an apartment?

We didn’t really expect the housing market to collapse or the current financial crisis when we started planning our wedding in January of 2008. Yes, now is a great time to buy an apartment in New York City, and Noah has the money to do so. However, we anticipate that by this time next year it will probably still be a great time to buy an apartment.

In all seriousness, Noah and I are throwing a lot of money at our crazy wedding because private space travel is a cause we really believe in. We really think the future is space, and that private citizens ought to be able to travel there. We want to promote space travel as a positive thing. Basically we agree with this organization’s vision.

Q. How high does the plane fly?

Uh, check out Zero G’s website for all the really technical stuff.

Q. How did you two meet?

Noah and I met in the year 2000. He brought members of Columbia University’s Science Fiction Club to meet New York University’s Science Fiction Club, where I was a member. We were dating other people at the time. Our first date was in January of 2002, and we saw the movie The Royal Tenenbaums with friends from Sci Fi Club. Noah and I have lived together since July of 2003, and we got engaged on our sixth anniversary in 2008.

Q. What do you two do for a living?

Erin works in animation production, often as a coordinator. She has worked on Codename; Kids Next Door, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Click and Clack’s As the Wrench Turns. Erin also professionally reviews manga, anime, and comics, and does freelance writing about anime conventions for Otaku USA magazine and Publishers Weekly. Noah is a legal secretary at an international law firm.

Q. Has Noah seen the dress? (I assume so because of the internet photos, but I want to know.)

Did you know that in Japan couples shop for the dress together? I suppose keeping the dress secret is an American (or Western?) tradition that hasn’t been exported to Japan.  Eri Matsui was kind of surprised Noah wasn’t there for the fittings.  Noah could only afford to send me to Tokyo alone and pay for the dress – he couldn’t go to Japan and pay for the dress and the wedding, and our two receptions.

Anyway, there would be no way to keep the dress secret from Noah, because to get on the Zero G flight we have to pass through a TSA security screening, and I’ll be fully dressed at that point.  Also we live in a tiny apartment with no closets and just one shared wardrobe, so the dress is just haning up on the bedroom door.  Noah has never seen me in the dress.  Except in photos.