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Last night I was invited to be my friend’s Maid of Honour in her upcoming Second Life wedding. After I instantly and wholeheartedly accepted, I got right down to the serious business of Honour Maidening in Second Life Weddings.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit however, that despite my lofty appointment, I have never even attended a Second Life wedding! Talk about under-qualified! But being the intrepid woman that I am (at least in Second Life), I’ve jumped into the planing of one with both feet, figuring they can’t be nearly as complicated emotionally trying affairs as weddings in RL, right?
I like context, which to me means that I like to know something about the history and background of things before I attempt them. So I decided to a do a little bit of research into the Second Life wedding thing, because to be honest, I feel like I don’t even know what I don’t know.
I’m not talking about partnerships here, I’m talking about weddings. While I can’t seem to find any hard data (how reliably unsurprising), my diligent profile surfing over the past five years tells me that partnerships in Second Life are fairly common. Introduced in 2004, a partnership is “a vanity display for social purposes only (and) does not alter in world permissions, group abilities, support benefits, and so forth” according to the SL Knowledge Base entry on the subject. For $L10, you can effectively buy a license to display your partner’s name on your profile. Dissolving the partnership costs $L25. Being partnered however, doesn’t necessarily imply that you’ve had a wedding, or even that you’ve gotten “married”.
Clearly, Second Life Weddings are a big deal:
- A quick search on Google for the term “Second Life Wedding” generates over 57,000 results, including links to machinima YouTube videos, personal stories, and of course the usual “my husband’s/wife’s SL relationship broke up my real life marriage” listings.
- There is a magazine that focuses on the subject of SL weddings, complete with advertisements for venues, dresses, animations, accessories, and decor.
- There’s a Second Life Wedding flickr pool featuring over 500 images of of nuptial bliss.
- The Second Life Marketplace will offer you over 50,000 products related to “Weddings”.
- The most expensive wedding dress on the Second Life Marketplace I found is being offered for L$12,000 (that’s over $50 USD), so this stuff doesn’t come cheap.
For both men and women, a wedding can be one of the most memorable experiences in one’s life. I wonder how this vivid emotional experience compares and contrasts to its digital counterpart? Are these experiences similarly impactful or significant? Besides the obvious, is there anything missing? What’s augmented? Is it role play? Or does one actually come out the other end feeling “just married”? Does one’s self concept, or one’s view of a second life relationship change during or after the event?
I’m hoping to hear from other people who have had first hand experiences either attending Second Life weddings, or have had their own, so that I can pick their brains on how these things work – socially and mentally. So please, if you’re in that group, or have heard a few stories from a friend of a friend, or even if you simply have an opinion on the matter, do let me know. I’m all ears!