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Guide for the Perplexed Wedding Guest

Hi! Welcome to Kathryn and Sean's wedding. Or rather, since you're reading this on the web and wondering why your wedding invitation included this page's URL, Kat and Sean's Wedding Website. You may be wondering why we wrote this little Guide for the Perplexed.

The main reason is that the wedding is not the only event in the hotel, or even the main event at the hotel. The main event is a filk (science fiction folk music) convention called Consonance. It's a convention that Kat has been going to almost all her life, and a favorite of many of her friends -- and many of Sean's friends, as well. The wedding is, in fact, on the schedule as a program item in the convention; it's not just happening at the same place.

If you're already a science fiction fan, and familiar with science fiction conventions and filk music, you already understand. Enjoy the con. If you're still perplexed, read on!

Note: if you're just here for the wedding, you are not expected to buy a membership in the con. But we do want you to enjoy it while you're here -- talk to Colleen (Kat's mom) and she'll make the necessary arrangements.

About Science Fiction Conventions

Science fiction fans like to get together for weekend conventions, called "cons" for short. Lots of things happen at cons: panel discussions, hallway conversations, workshops, ... and singing. Many cons have movies, book signings, costume competitions, and an art show, but this one doesn't -- it's specifically for music.

(If this is your first science fiction convention, you'll want to read the convention survival tips at the end of this page.)

Unlike Star Trek or comic-book conventions, which are often huge commercial affairs, Consonance is run entirely run by volunteers. You can expect things to be a little disorganized at times. You're unlikely to see many people in costume -- filk fans prefer casual comfort -- but there may be a handful of people in "fur suits" because Sean and Kat are active in the "furry" fan community, as are several other attendees.

Fans go to conventions for many reasons, but mainly to spend a weekend with people they feel comfortable with: people who understand their choice of books, movies, and music. People who know what it's like to be the unpopular bookworm in High School. People who don't look at you oddly if you choose to dress up as your favorite cartoon character, or as your Second Life or World of Warcraft avatar. People who, when you complain that you don't have enough bookshelves, understand that you're not complaining about having too many books.

A con is a good place to make friends, so its not surprising that some of those friends choose to get married at cons -- often the con where they met. Sean and Kat met at Further Confusion, but decided for a variety of reasons that Consonance was a better con to be married at. (Reasons include having more of Kat's friends at Consonance, not having to hire entertainment for the reception, and the fact that Kat's parents didn't think that most family members would feel comfortable at FurCon.) There will be an engagement party at FurCon.

About Filk Music

And that brings us to filk music, which is sometimes defined as the folk music of science fiction and fantasy fandom. (It's often been said that, if you ask two fans to define filk music, you'll get three definitions. It's probably more like five, but it's not worth arguing about. The Wikipedia article is a pretty good place to look for more information.)

Years ago, most filk music consisted of fannish lyrics -- often plot summaries of favorite books or movies -- written to "borrowed" melodies. These days, both the words and the music are mostly original, and on a wide range of subjects, from fantasy and science fiction to computers and cats. Since Consonance is a filk convention, most of the daytime programming will be concerts.

There will be singing at the reception after the wedding, too. Lots of singing. Everyone attending the wedding is invited to sing a song at the reception, if they have something appropriate.

Convention Survival Tips

Open Filking: After the concerts are over, the con switches over to "open filking". The filk community is one of the most friendly, welcoming groups of people anywhere, even if you can't sing. If you can sing, don't worry if you don't know any filk songs. And a lot of songs have easy-to-learn choruses.

The Interfilk Auction: One of the unusual features of filk cons is the auction to benefit Interfilk, an organization that provides "the means and opportunity for talented members of the filk community to attend filk conventions they otherwise [would] not be able to attend." Be careful, and go in with a definite budget in mind. It's easy to get carried away in the heat of a bidding war, and the alluringly-dressed "wenches" can be very persuasive (and a lot of fun to watch).

Food: The hotel's restaurant isn't usually open on Sunday; they may make an exception for the con this year, but if they don't you can always get food in the bar. The hotel is also very close to many good restaurants. Fen (that's a popular alternative to "fans") tend to eat in groups; the hotel staff is very used to dealing with multiple checks at a table.

The 6-3-1 rule: Get at least 6 hours of sleep, three meals, and one bath or shower every day. Sometimes given as the "6-2-1" rule. Your mileage may vary: it depends on what your body can handle. Filk circles run late; it's not unusual for (younger) filkers to get their 6 hours of sleep between breakfast and lunchtime.

Conversation: Fen are usually quite shy with people they don't know. Even some of the most enthusiastic performers turn out to be introverts when offstage, and will be grateful if somebody else starts the conversation. Fortunately, a filk convention always provides a lot to talk about. So does a wedding, for that matter.

Names: Fen are often better-known by their nicknames than by the names their parents gave them. Kat and Sean are better known as Chaos (or ChaosWolf) and Selkit; there are going to be people at the con who have known them for years without ever learning their "mundane" names. (The world outside of fandom is, of course, the "mundane world", and people who live in it are known as "mundanes". It's not meant to be insulting, but there's a strong implication that you're visiting fandom from a foreign country. You may find the local customs a little odd, but that's only to be expected.)

Costumes: A visitor from the mundane world may find the native costume a little odd, as well. Even at a "formal" event like a wedding, many fans -- especially the ones who are mainly there for the con -- will be dressed casually, but many others will make an effort to dress up for the event. Of course, this being a science fiction and fantasy convention, a fan's idea of "formal" might be a Renaissance gown, a Victorian tail coat and top hat, a 25th-Century mercenary's dress uniform, or something out of a Disney animation. Just tell people that your suit and tie are a "mid-20th-Century semi-formal costume", and you'll fit right in.

By: Steve and Kat Savitzky

Last modified: Wed Jan 2 17:59:53 PST 2008