Oddly Enough

The bride wore dart launchers at Comic-Con wedding

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The bride and groom grasped one another’s dart launcher-clad wrists and stared into each other’s starry eyes.

Tenille Kuhlman, 30, and Thomas Kuhlman, 39 are wed by Tom Hutchens (30) , a 30-year-old IT professional and erstwhile Mandalorian preacher during a "Mandalorian" ceremony outside of Comic Con in San Diego July 25, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Fifty armour-clad guests, including several “Jedis” and a white caped “Elvis” in a rhinestone-studded ammo belt, stood reverently at attention. A couple of superheroes showed up late.

What better place to hold a “Star Wars” themed wedding than a green patch of grass just outside the famed Comic-Con convention where thousands of fans have congregated this week to revel in all manner of superhero and sci-fi lore?

Friday’s wedding ceremony, based on the language, costume and lore of a fictional Mandalorian race in the “Star Wars” movies, was the brain child of Tenille Kuhlman, 30, and Thomas Kuhlman, 39, avid fans who decided that the convention was a perfect place to gather far-flung members of their close-knit “Star Wars” fan club to celebrate their special day.

The couple met online two years ago, said Tenille Kuhlman, who said she was at first was hesitant to embrace the Mandalorian lifestyle. “When I met him I knew what every Joe Blow knows about ‘Star Wars.’ It just sort of turned into life for us.”

Last winter they married in a civil ceremony and settled in Yuma, Arizona, yet Thomas Kuhlman longed to receive a Mandalorian blessing of their union. “I said, ‘Hey, that’s never going to happen,’” Tenille Kuhlman said.

But according to clan creed, Mandalorians don’t make threats, they make promises. The wedding quickly began to take shape. Yet 10 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, despite her careful planning, Tenille found herself still wearing her “I Love Nerds” T-shirt, nervous and without makeup.

Friends stepped in to help. “Hey, come on guys I’ve got jobs for you to do!” one Mandalorian shouted. “Bounty hunters are all about jobs!” an eager warrior replied.

With that friends quickly set up a makeshift arch and helped the bride, blushing from the heat of the hot summer sun, into her homemade armour, which included metal thigh plates, metal collar, cape, belt, and plastic cuffs known as gauntlets which in movie lore, are capable of shooting darts.

The guests -- in full regalia including helmets, boots and jet packs -- formed two lines and created a light sabre arch leading toward the altar.

“I don’t have my fake gun!” somebody shouted. “That’s OK,” said another guest. “This is a wedding ceremony. I left mine in the car.”

The crowd fell silent as Tenille, escorted by armour-clad P.J. Reindel, a police officer from California who she met online, walked her down the aisle toward Thomas, who stood under an archway decorated with white faux roses.

The bride and groom held their helmets in their hands, a solemn sign of Mandalorian respect. As they grasped wrists, Tom Hutchens, a 30-year-old IT professional and erstwhile Mandalorian preacher, began the ceremony.

“Vodas,” he said, using the Mandalorian word for “friends,” “Outsiders, Jedis, everybody, welcome. This is a contract between two Mandalorians who made a journey and future together and bled together and will continue to bleed together until their last day,” he said.

After reciting their vows in both Mandalorian and English translation, the jubilant crowd shouted: “Oya!” which in Mandalorian language means “celebration.”

“I now pronounce you Mandalorian husband and wife,” Hutchens said.

Editing by Bill Trott