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Love Amongst the Jawas

Why this year's Fan Expo was surprisingly romantic.

“Fan Expo” and “romance” aren’t words that traditionally go together.

It’s hard to imagine a couple opting to spend their first day of wedded bliss amongst Star Wars jawas and steampunk enthusiasts. It’s equally difficult to envision finding one’s future partner next to a giant Dalek. But both of those things happened this weekend.

Nerd Speed Dating was first introduced at Fan Expo last year, and was a massive hit, with dozens of people left on waiting lists. This year, the expo’s organizers brought it back with more sessions, as well as “genre-specific” speed dating for horror fans, anime enthusiasts, and other interest groups.

Ragna Stammler is the owner of 25 Dates, a company that hosts speed-dating events. She and her crew were brought in to organize this year’s edition of Nerd Speed Dating. Stammler said the dates at Fan Expo differed from the norm in a few key ways.

“It’s a little more chaotic at the beginning,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of people sign up beforehand, then not show up, and other people showing up without registering.” Many participants showed up in costume.

Despite the chaos, daters still managed to find connections. Amber Fall of Toronto signed up for Nerd Speed Dating because she’s “a nerd, single and lonely.” She said she was generally impressed with the calibre of her dates.

“The people were all pretty normal. No stereotypical ’80s-type Revenge of the Nerds nerds or anything,” she said. “I actually liked a lot more people than I didn’t.”

While the speed daters were searching for their nerdy soulmates, another pair of sci-fi enthusiasts were tying the knot a few rooms over. Rob Bridges and Amy Banman are long-time Fan Expo attendees who opted to get married during the event, in front of friends, family, and a hundred or so cosplayers.

Fan Expo programming director James Armstrong admits that the expo’s organizers weren’t entirely sure that the couple was on the level at first.

“We had to make sure it was legitimate, that it wasn’t a prank, that we had a wedding license,” Armstrong said. “Once we had that, we started putting it all together fairly quickly.”

The groom was escorted to the altar by a phalanx of Star Wars storm troopers, while the father of the bride looked slightly confused when he walked his daughter up the aisle as people dressed as anime characters looked on. Their vows included references to Spider-Man and the Green Lantern. Banman referred to Bridges as her “knight in Jedi robes.”

As the wedding ended, the couple walked out to the strains of “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You,” while Bane hugged a Jedi and Tank Girl cried a little. At that moment, Fan Expo was quite possibly the most romantic place in the city.

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