SANDESTIN — At The Beach House — a galaxy not so far, far away — a Mary Esther couple tied the knot in a surprise "Star Wars"-themed wedding that would make even the dark side believe in true love.
Gary Sellers, a registered nurse at Bay Medical in Panama City, and his now-wife Selenia, a licensed optician, were childhood sweethearts who reconnected in 2010 and got engaged about a year ago. Gary, a lifelong "Star Wars" fan, said he and Selenia had been planning what he thought would be a traditional wedding.
“I was just trying to make it all about her,” Gary said. “As we were planning for this wedding, I said, ‘This is for you, I’d be happy going down to the courthouse, but I want you to have this fabulous day that you’ve always wanted.’ ”
Knowing Selenia was not a big "Star Wars" fan, Gary said he expected a simple wedding.
“I had 'Star Wars' pins on my tie that I was trying to hide from her,” Gary said. “And she gave me some 'Star Wars' cuff links, and I was all happy. I was like, 'Oh, wow!' I was happy to have some small 'Star Wars' things during the wedding.”
But after Gary walked down the aisle to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” and stood waiting for his bride, the DJ said there were “technical difficulties” before a song very familiar to Gary began playing.
“ ’The Imperial March’ started playing and then (a stormtrooper) came down the aisle, and when I first saw it, my jaw just dropped,” Gary said.
Unbeknownst to him, Selenia had been secretly planning for a year to incorporate "Star Wars" into their wedding.
“The biggest challenge was planning the wedding he thought we were having, and then going behind the next day with the wedding planner and doing the whole 'Star Wars' thing,” Selenia said. “It was double the work, but it was so worth it.”
The "Star Wars" characters Selenia commissioned were part of the 501st Legion in Pensacola, a group of "Star Wars" fans who dress up like the characters from the movies. The characters also gave an “Empire toast” at the reception and told the couple that the Empire was pleased to be a part of their wedding.
Selenia also incorporated "Star Wars" elements into her wedding bouquet, centerpieces and flowers.
“The wedding cake had the Millenium Falcon crashing into it, and all of the flowers had either a stormtrooper or his favorite character, Boba Fett,” Selenia said.
Gary said Selenia’s surprise was special not only because he loves "Star Wars" but because it made the day about both of them.
“She turned what is traditionally a bride’s day into our day,” he said. “It wasn’t just her dream wedding, it was mine, too. Just to know that she loved me like that, to make it our day ... ”
Selenia said Gary’s reaction was everything she had hoped for and more.
“I was a little concerned that he was going to be more excited to see Darth Vader than he was to see me,” she said. “But it was exactly the reaction I was hoping for.”