They met playing "Halo" in 2004, and in January they'll get married by a guy wearing Master Chief armor.
Desirai Labrada, 29, and John Henry, 26, are having a "Halo" wedding.
And it was her idea.
Desirai and John are big-time "Halo" players. She games under the name SickNDeHed. He plays as PsychoVandal. They met when she lived in New York and he was in Florida. She'd become Xbox Live friends with his roommate, and they slowly started to play games together, regularly. When he didn't show up online one day during the time they usually played, she sent him a message and her phone number.
"I was drawn to her laugh," John said in a phone interview with MTV News earlier this week. "I had made her laugh a few times and thought her laugh was kind of cute."
They played "Halo" as teammates. As they were falling in love, they tended to protect each other a lot, watching each other's back as lasers and grenades fell around them. And in an act of sacrifice only possible during a blossoming romance, Desirai agreed to take Dramamine so she could last through three-hour binges of campaign mode on "Halo 3" with John without getting motion sickness.
That's true love.
They met in person in 2005. John picked Desirai up at the airport and got her over her apprehension about a first kiss by kissing her right in the terminal. She moved down to Florida to be around John and enrolled in a graphic-design program at Full Sail University. And in January of this year, as she was waiting for John to pop the question, she had an idea pop into her head: a "Halo" wedding.
" 'Wouldn't it be cool if people at my wedding could play games?' " Desirai remembered thinking. "I kept coming up with ideas of how I could bring 'Halo' into it."
She told John. He wasn't fazed. "I thought it was a cool idea," he said. "I love 'Halo'; I love her." Asked during his MTV News interview which he loved more, he paused a moment, and then blurted, "Her."
Desirai and John knew they'd need help for the wedding. They'd be paying for it themselves. Desirai had graduated from Full Sail and started talking to the school about staging the wedding there, maybe in 2010. She started a Web site with John, AMatchMadeInHalo.com, and planned to solicit sponsors. Full Sail's administration kicked in. They helped find a florist to provide flowers (which will sport their "Halo" Spartan colors of crimson and royal blue, of course). They helped find a jeweler (which unfortunately didn't have enough time to make rings shaped like "Halo" halos). They helped find a baker (which will make a "Halo"-themed cake). Microsoft and "Halo" maker Bungie Studios haven't weighed in yet, but it's assumed they'll be happy about this event.
The concept of a "Halo" wedding doesn't mesh with all family traditions. John floated the idea to his family, whom he described as being "along the redneck side." Some of them got it but remain perplexed as to what they should wear. It seems that some guests think they have to dress in "Halo" fashions. They don't. Desirai's family is so "very old-fashioned Cuban" that she hasn't told them about the gaming theme. "I figure the less they know about it, the less they can protest," Desirai said. She's telling herself that it won't be a big hassle anyway, because her wedding will be a subtle affair. Many people won't realize that the emblem on her wedding dress is her "Halo" emblem, for example. They won't realize that, instead of the "Bridal Chorus," the song playing is the music that plays on the "Halo 3" menu screen. But the officiant dressed in the Master Chief armor might be the giveaway that there's something different about these nuptials.
There have been some scares leading up to the wedding. There was the crisis when the matron of honor expressed confusion as to who Master Chief is. That's been cleared up.
Another small crisis: Full Sail suggested that the wedding get moved up to early 2009, to be held during the school's Otronicon tech and gaming convention in Orlando. The problem was that the wedding date wouldn't fall on any of the "Halo"-themed dates John and Desirai were considering, like the "Halo" launch anniversary in November. Full Sail's plans called for the marriage to commence on January 17. Desirai and John accepted this non-"Halo" element. And then, a magical moment occurred. "At one point, I'm typing in the URL that has the date, the number 117," Desirai said. "And I said, 'John, what's Master Chief's Spartan number?' He said: '117.' " Saved!
So the wedding will be on January 17 at Otronicon in a hall in the Orlando Science Center. The wedding ceremony will be private, but the bride and groom will make an appearance for convention attendees. After their wedding, instead of a first dance, they will host a Bride vs. Groom "Halo" tournament that is open to the public.
By the way: Desirai considered dressing up as Cortana for the wedding (John would have been Master Chief), but she nixed it. "I'm too much of a girl," she said. She wanted to wear a real wedding dress.