Wedding Stories in the Metaverse

by Alphaville Herald on 09/09/07 at 5:44 am

by Katrina Eales

Wedding7.05 pm on August 22. Venue: Love Story Weddings. After months of meticulous planning Alleggra Whitfield’s big moment had arrived.

She was anxious to step down the aisle and take the hand of her betrothed, Bert Cramer, sealing the promise they had already made to live only for each other throughout their sojourn in Second Life.

Laden with anticipation, nerves stretched taut, Alle was hardly equipped to deal with a crisis but she had a feeling that something had gone terribly wrong.

The wedding was scheduled for 7 pm but there was no sign of celebrant, Alisha Appin, nor Love Story Wedding’s official photographer.

Alle could feel panic rising. All the meticulous planning for her SL wedding — the hours spent choosing her dress, writing out the guest list, organising flowers and planning the ceremony had come to nought, it seemed.

As if the anticipation of the long awaited occasion wasn’t enough to string her nerves as tightly as a high tuned violin she was now faced with fronting a crowd impatient to see her walk gracefully down the aisle to tell them that her wedding may have to be postponed.

By 7.15 pm she was under real stress, attempting to locate the celebrant and at the same time answer fast coming internal messages.

At that point most brides would have been clawing at their dress. Alle took a deep breath and after a quick word with her beloved, decided that nothing was going to spoil her big day. A frantic search through the SL directory failed to find a celebrant who could attend at short notice so the resolute couple resolved to marry each other.

The guests were directed to their seats in the chapel, Bert took his place at the altar and Alle stepped up to join him. A friend, Staci Merosi, a DJ well rehearsed in public speaking and sitting in the front row was co-opted to perform the ceremony.

All was well until Murphy, that troublesome leprechaun, already well known in Second Life decided to strike a second time and the bride disappeared from the altar while repeating her vows leaving the groom standing with the opportunity to utter some classic one-liners.

She was back five minutes later with a short speech………”When things go wrong there is always something to make up for it. And for me, Bert Cramer, it’s you.”

Said with style and dignity, neither understated nor overstated, it highlighted the occasion people were there to celebrate, not the trappings that we tend to put so much store on when it comes to our wedding day. Here was a celebration stripped bare highlighting the love of two people who met in Second Life and decided to marry as a seal of their friendship.

marrying in second life – but not real life

It’s hard to say whether Bert and Alle are representative of the typical Second Life couple. Both are convinced that their marriage is no more than an enjoyable progression of their game playing in Second Life. They are not planning to meet in the real world.

“It’s a line we do not cross,” Bert explained. “Alle is certain she wants to keep this relationship in SL and so am I. Nevertheless, we have a strikingly similar outlook on life – we complete each other’s sentences and often have the same thoughts. She has been caring to me emotionally and I have tried to provide both spiritual and material comfort for her.”

Bert admits that that he has personal feelings for Alle that bridge the gap between SL and real life but notes that the SL landscape is littered with lost souls who take the game too seriously. Can the playing of a fantasy game like Second Life leak over into reality?

“I think the answer is yes, sure it can. I can’t possibly tell tell you how I am going to feel about Alle in SL or RL in a year’s time. But I will tell you this – we have been very clear with each other that this is where the relationship stays.

“I am in love with Alle in SL and I am making a committment to her happiness here. It gives me fulfilment and allows me to play with the nurturing side of my soul. It’s like a good movie, except that it’s interactive.”

For Alle, marriage is part of the fun of the game. “It’s a celebration of the commitment you have to the game and the friends you make,” she says.

“I’ve always thought that internet relationships which involve more than friendship are pure drama. The easiest way to understand our relationship is that our avatars are in love and the real people in front of the screen just like to talk to each other and share SL experiences.”

Not everyone is as matter of fact about Second Life relationships. Queenie Moriarty, a marriage celebrant in both SL and real life says that love is love whether it is virtual or real.

love is love whether it is virtual or real

“I have come across couples very much in love and I have, for example, married people who are married to each other in RL but live apart, often for career reasons.”

Queenie has presided over more than 500 SL marriages and believes that most were “genuine love matches.” The bride and groom generally seem concerned for each other – the groom often nervous and sweating, the bride apprehensive. I get the picture when people present themselves to me and are obviously being careful around each other, careful not to interrupt or talk over each other, and laughing at the same (sometimes inane) things and remembering when they first met and what they wore and what they said. That sounds very close to love to me.”

Queenie has also married couples who have different spouses in the real world. One woman told her repeatedly that her real life husband must never find out she was getting married in SL, even though the SL marriage seemed to be a love match.

Queenie says she makes no moral judgments. “I have no opinions on what morality means to another person whether in in SL or elsewhere. i used to leave ads for my services outside strip clubs and picked up a lot of business from quick marriages that way with the boys telling me to keep quiet about it.”

Queenie_moriartyQueenie believes that SL is a separate existence and that the two worlds don’t have to meet, much less collide. For example, she is not concerned about the possibility that a man marry a woman in SL who is actually a man in real life.

“In SL we take on a new persona and being committed to a partner here should not impinge on RL. In here we live out another identity and here a man can be a woman and he may be, must surely be, happier in here than he is in RL.”

While there may be confusion about which partner is what sex in real life Queenie says she has not witnessed a cross species marriage between a human avatar and and a furry.

“There have been plenty of marriages between humans and vampires, for example, but never across human and fur lines. It must be a line they draw for themselves.”

One of the most immediate and striking aspects of marriage in SL is the extravagance of the weddings and Queenie feels strongly that there is a very simple answer.

“They are extravagant because in SL people can afford to be extravagant. “I liken it to the movie, Muriel’s Wedding. There is no doubt that marriage in SL can be just as exciting as a real world event. The frock, the planning, the make-up, the reception and writing the guest list can take many hours. The brides get nervous and IM me every 10 minutes about a wedding that is still two weeks away. They get the jitters, change their mind and then change it back again. They decide they are too short, or too tall for their frock and buy a new one for another $1200 lindens.”

Strangely enough, in Queenie’s experience, most Second Lifers tend to be very much like their real life selves, despite SL being a world where people can look and live almost as they please.

“Some live like rock stars and have children, which is probably what they would be doing in RL if they had the money, but you know, I think most people are very much like they really are,” she says.

That is why Queenie loves the marriage game. “It’s very exciting because happiness, like love, is contagious.”

real life spillover

For many other people, however, love, sex and marriage in SL is not all gowns, wine and roses. In my short time as a Second Life resident I have encountered several women grappling with the problem of an SL relationship spilling over into their every day lives.

Before Kim discovered Second Life she was a happily married 28 year old with two young children. Then she met her SL partner, Burb, at a nightclub and has since sworn eternal love. She is terrified her real life husband will discover the affair but at the same is flirting with the possibility of packing up her young sons and fleeing her home in Australia to be in the arms of her California lover. The potentially disastrous impact on two young boys is neither a here nor there.

“At the age of seven and five they are young enough to get over it,” she says. “It is the potential impact on me that I am concerned about – for example Burb wants children of his own and I am not sure I want another pregnancy.”

And then there was the wife of an alcoholic husband who made a plea for help through the SL Catholic Church group. She wanted a priest to confess to.

Finally there is the woman who helped me when I was an SL noob. A church going Anglican in real life she has already had one SL relationship and has now moved on to a second – this time with a man whose avatar is the devil.

That is the nature of romance, love and marriage in Second Life – a mesh of the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Footnote: The mystery of the missing celebrant at Bert Cramer and Alle’s Whitfield’s wedding was explained three days after the event. Celebrant Alisha Appin was suddenly called away after her real life father was seriously injured in an industrial accident. Unbeknown to Alisha her back up had failed.

She has since refunded the full cost of the wedding and offered to provide another ceremony and reception free of charge.

9 Responses to “Wedding Stories in the Metaverse”

  1. Ali

    Sep 9th, 2007

    What a smart couple.Finaly we have somebody who understands that SL IS JUST A GAME(or a “platform”,the new fancy name SL is called theese days,but that doesn’t make it more real or more linked to the real world)and WHAT HAPPENS THERE STAYS THERE(wellll…i gues with the smal ecseption of business…if ther’s real money involved)

  2. Victorria Paine

    Sep 9th, 2007

    It’s an interesting article. The quotes from the couple highlighted seem to contradict each other. For example, I’m having a hard time reconciling this:

    “I am in love with Alle in SL and I am making a committment to her happiness here. It gives me fulfilment and allows me to play with the nurturing side of my soul. It’s like a good movie, except that it’s interactive.”

    with this:

    “I’ve always thought that internet relationships which involve more than friendship are pure drama. The easiest way to understand our relationship is that our avatars are in love and the real people in front of the screen just like to talk to each other and share SL experiences.”

    Not quite the same perspective there, it seems to me.


    I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on these issues myself since becoming involved in virtual worlds a few years ago. My own view is that what happens in virtual worlds is “real” in the sense that you are really there emotionally and mentally. The key to the experience is how you choose to “really be there”. You can choose to be there as a “gamer”, with one eye on the television, a hand on your cellphone and just messing about — and undoubtedly there are many people who participate in SL as well in this kind of fashion. There’s nothing wrong with that at all – -it’s just a personal choice of how to experience the world based on what you want to get from it. However, you can just as easily choose to “really be there” in a more focused and concentrated sense, and doubtless many SL residents choose this mode of presence as well.

    What I think, however, is that the “mode of presence” that you choose determines the way you look at the kinds of issues discussed in this article. For the more “casual” participant, the idea of falling in love and marrying etc in a virtual world seems at best silly and pointless and at worst pathetic and indicative of a social disorder — precisely because these people do not view SL that way. For the more “focused” participant, who takes SL more “seriously” to one degree or another, there is a dichotomy as well between those who choose to have virtual relationships and those who do not, again based on personal preference — but the “no” people in this group tend to be more understanding of the people in the group who do choose to have relationships.

    My own personal experience, based on the way that *I* choose to interact in SL, is that the relationships I form there are very much real in mental and emotional terms — they are simply not real in material terms. Because I let my mind and my emotions be present in SL, I experience that mental and emotional connection — no material connection is needed (for me) to experience connections on these levels with the persona that the other typist is projecting into the virtual world. I entertain no illusions about this being a relationship with the other typist directly, however — and that doesn’t concern me. Why? Because I, like the highlighted couple, have no interest in importing SL relationships into my material world life. I have a satisfying and engaging material world life, and I prefer my material world relationships to be ones that have started there and had their formative stages take place there, rather than trying to transplant something that grew up in the very different virtual environment into the challenges of the material world. (Similarly, I do the same thing in the opposite direction: I have no interest in importing by material world friendships and relationships into SL, either.)

    So while I draw a strict boundary between SL and my material world life (the biggest spillover might be the occasional email with one or two SL acquaintances who are particularly close), I don’t think this means at all that the love I experience in some of my SL relationships is not “real”, or that it is a cute word for “friendship”. I know the difference between how I feel about a friend, and how I feel about a lover, thank you very much, and simply saying that it isn’t “love” but merely “friendship in a wedding dress” seems pretty pointless to me if you recognize the feeling as such — unless you are a very strict roleplaying actor, and have no more feelings in the mind and heart of your typist than an actor does in playing her role (bearing in mind, of course, that actors are falling in love with their colleagues on the set quite often ….). Having said that, you do have to exercise a lot of care in what you choose to do with your online feelings — simply importing them into your material world life as suggested towards the end of the article can be disastrously disruptive for no real material world benefit at the end of the day.

    So in summary, to each her own on these issues. It very much is a question of perspective, and how you decide to approach SL, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this kind of thing, it seems to me.

  3. Len Edgerly

    Sep 9th, 2007

    I heard about this article on Twitter and am fascinated, first by the high journalistic quality of the story and second, by the richness of the discussion about SL v. RL. I particularly appreciate Victoria Paine’s “Mode of Presence” concept and how different modes lead to very different experiences in SL. Same for RL, of course. I can tune in with my full being to a conversation with my wife, or I can treat it as a game, with very different results. This, actually, is what I’m coming to see as the real value of virtual worlds. They give us a chance to try out beliefs and behaviors which can affect our lives in the “real” world. And the more I give myself over to my best mode of presence, the more I sense that these worlds are all unified, or at least linked!

  4. Kryss Wanweird

    Sep 9th, 2007

    What I found absolutely genius is the picture in this piece. Apparently, nothing wrong, just a cute picture of two loving avatars, who chose to proclaim their virtual love in a lovely Sl ceremony. But something just doesn’t look right, something just odd, misplaced, and alien. Wait… the groom’s hair, what’s that? It doesn’t belong in the scene, it’s too brutal. Just like this whole concept of virtual love.

  5. Angel

    Sep 9th, 2007

    >> “There have been plenty of marriages between humans and vampires, for example, but never across human and fur lines. It must be a line they draw for themselves.”

    Maybe they just don’t go to you Queenie? I’m not Furry but my mate is, to further blow RL norms out of the water he is also my brother and my collared pet. I have quite a few other human friends with Fur mates too.

  6. Jacko

    Sep 9th, 2007

    What stood out in this story for me was the confession of the marriage celebrant, Queenie Moriarty, who used to advertise quickie weddings outside strip clubs and did well out of it.

    Skilled journalism here. Including that in the piece was a clever slap delivered by the writer without being overtly moralistic, delivering the message and allowing the readers to judge.

    I thought Queenie came across as a hypocrite, talking about love one minute and spruiking outside strip joints the next. As for keeping quiet about people who might marry a different partner in SL, well, what can you say? If my wife was so smitten with some other guy in SL I’d be thinking there was something very wrong with our marriage. A big thumbs down for Queenie Moriarty.

    Wonder if she marries people in RL too? I have to admit I don’t understand virtual love or how it can be separated from love in RL. For example, is it possible for two people who loathe each other in RL to fall in love and get hitched in SL?

  7. Victorria Paine

    Sep 10th, 2007

    “For example, is it possible for two people who loathe each other in RL to fall in love and get hitched in SL?”

    It could very well happen, I think, because you have to remember that you are falling in love with the persona that the typist is projecting into the virtual world — that persona may be very much like the typist, or somewhat like the typist in bits and different in other bits, or rather completely different from the typist (although that is rare, it takes quite a skilled roleplayer or actor to pull off a persistent, convincing alternate persona over the long term without significant elements of their typist’s persona bleeding in). But it’s quite possible that the aspects of the typist that she is projecting into the virtual world, and which are the ones you may find attractive, are not the *only* aspects of the typist in the material world, or perhaps not the most prominent aspects either.

    Whether this matters to you depends entirely on whether you are willing/interested in having a virtual love affair with a projected persona (without diving in too much into their material world selves), or whether it seems pointless to you unless you know for sure what the other typist is “really” like in the material world. That’s a fundamental philosophical disagreement that divides SL’s community across the board on virtually all issues, really.

  8. Adam

    Sep 13th, 2007

    LOL E-RELATIONSHIPS! I bet that chick weighs 350 pounds, and the guy is at least 80

  9. Rich

    Dec 19th, 2007

    Hello, my name is Rich Knight and I work for a publication called SMITH Magazine, a site where we ask our readers for their own personal stories. Well, I run a section (and it’s my ONLY section) called Obsessed (, where we talk with people who are virtually obsessed with things online. We’ve handled wikipedia, we’ve handled eBay, heck, we’ve even handled the monolith of all things methodical, facebook. And now, we REALLY want to tackle Second Life, the virtual hub for everything personal.

    We’d really like to talk to someone who spends a great deal of time in the universe and would love to have an interview on our site. If you’re interested, please contact me back at We’d love to hear somebody’s story. Thanks and take care.


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