SALT LAKE CITY — As comic enthusiasts from across the country flooded downtown this past weekend for the annual FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, there was no shortage of extravagant costumes, celebrity panels, autograph signings and gaming competitions. But that wasn't all. This year, Chris and Jessica Payne took their fandom to the next level: a Star Wars wedding ceremony at FanX.
Utahn Chris Payne and Californian Jessica Schmidt first met while watching "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," and their bond grew from there. As avid members of two Star Wars costuming clubs — the Rebel Legion and the Mandalorian Mercs — Payne and Schmidt had met voice actors James Arnold Taylor and Anna Graves at Salt Lake's FanX convention in the past couple of years. Taylor is the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," while Graves voices the Duchess Satine of Mandalore.
Shortly after, the couple devised the idea of a Star Wars wedding.
After Payne created a Facebook event for the wedding, the voice actors caught wind of it through Twitter.
"We thought it would be really fun to kind of throw together a Star Wars wedding," Payne told the Deseret News. "We have the costumes, the characters and then when the voice actors found out about it, they contacted us and the convention and said, 'Hey we're coming and we'll … officiate."
But the Star Wars theme didn't end there. Not only did Taylor and Graves offer to officiate, but the two voice actors also involved a scriptwriter from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," Henry Gilroy, to help write the wedding script, which the actors read at the ceremony.
Although they had a more traditional wedding a month ago, Payne deemed this event the "party wedding" — and it proved to be just that. Draped in Obi-Wan's signature brown hooded cloak and adorned with an elegant headdress as Duchess Satine, two fellow comic characters escorted Payne and Schmidt as they entered the ceremony. They said their "I do's" while close comic convention friends looked on and cheered.
"What we initially thought was going to be … maybe a two-minute thing by the booths, turned into a massive event … and amazing ceremony because Anna Graves and James Arnold Taylor found out about it and they're some of our bigger fans because they love what we do, because we love what they do," Payne said.
This Star Wars extravaganza not only excited FanX attendees, but is receiving global attention online. "A friend actually messaged me from Italy today saying, 'Hey, you're trending on Reddit over here,'" Payne said. For Schmidt, it was the wedding she never expected.
"It's surreal. Honestly, I didn't think this would go that far."