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CaffEineCraft & Setterspecs (Chicago, IL)

Photo: Payton’s Photography

CAFFEINECRAFT: This is the story of how Setterspecs and I met and how things came together for us to get married the day before Anime Central 2023 in Chicago.

I started going to cons in the 2000s, though never for more than a day and not every year either. I did not start attending more regularly until the 2010s, doing my first actual cosplay in 2011. From there I branched out, attending cons in different regions and expanding my skill set and the types of costumes I made.

SETTERSPECS: I got into cosplay right off the bat with my first convention when my sister had attended AWA in 2008 the next year, 2009 she invited me and encouraged me to dress up, she knew I would have a good time if I did. Next we encouraged friends to dress up. We were willing to go along with whatever group would make them comfortable, so 2010 AWA we did persona as a group and that was my first and only fully purchased as-is costume. AWA was still our only con at the time but we decided to do the Ouran Host Club and enter the contest. We did not win anything but received letters of feedback from our judges that really inspired my sister and I to keep making our own costumes. We both learned different skills at different times, and continued to learn and share with the friends we made through cosplay. moving up from hand stitching some ribbons onto a purchased dress, to sewing my first skirt to my first fully made cosplay.

CAFFEINECRAFT: We’d actually known each other on and off for several years – 2014 was when we first met down at her home con, Anime Weekend Atlanta. And from there we ran into each other several other times, both at Otakon and subsequent AWAs. Contact was touch and go, chatting a bit online but not too much past that.

Come 2018 and I had not spoken with her in some time, but one of her friends saw my ninetales build and spotted me on the floor at Otakon. From there we started talking again and Jordan and her friends wanted to build out costumes to match with mine for AWA.

The initial concept came with the retirement of another costume. I’ve always really liked kitsune myths and characters, and I’ve tried to have some costume with that theme in my rotation. As I was looking at retiring my Kaden (Fire Emblem Fates), I ended up going with Alolan Ninetails as my choice, both as a challenge and because I had a good idea what I wanted to do for a Ninetail rig. Originally I was paired up with someone else doing original ninetales, and while we did wear the costumes together at ACEN for one year, that was the one and only time we did before Jordan and her friends reached out to me.

It was incredibly fun to have a whole group of people wanting to go in on a build. As challenging as trying to pull together a group cosplay can be, it’s incredibly fun when it all comes together. The feeling you get when you have a chance to share your passionate hobby with other people is incredibly fulfilling.

We planned on having them debut as a group for 2019 and with that build going on we talked a lot more frequently, developing a much deeper fondness for each other through the course of the build. By the time the build and the event came together we were at the point of considering each other as a couple, though still distanced with her living in Atlanta and I living in Chicago.

When the pandemic hit she ended up furloughed and while I was still working remotely she made the decision to move up and join me in Chicago. We didn’t do much creatively during the shutdown, but we did get to know each other much more deeply and come to rely on and support each other.

SETTERSPECS : We had been talking for a while when the news broke about the national shut down. At the time I was in an apartmant situation in Atlanta with a friend and my ex. At the end of the lease I had been planning to get a new place with my friend, but when shut down happened I was furloughed and unemployment didn’t go through correctly so I had no income. not having any income, and limited funds to put a down payment I was going to either find other friends to stay with or move back home.

CaffeineCraft offered the option. I had visited him over new years before lockdown and had been charmed by the city. I will admit, deciding to do it was the most spontaneous thing I had ever done, but I need a fresh start. Two of them even road with me to take the first car load of belongings. I was very nervous and excited. My family members back in Alabama were scared and nervous of me moving so far and spontaniousely, but their love and support  showed as they  helped me with the uhaul and my last belonging. reminding me that they are a call away if I need them.

CAFFEINECRAFT: Our second paired set of costumes came shortly after things started to open back-up, a pair of Touhou costumes that we wore to several events. As we started to work on a much larger Monster Hunter build I’d started to have ideas about making things more formal. We’d both discussed getting married and future plans several times and had agreed that we didn’t want a very large or formal wedding, we wanted to keep things cheap, small, and intimate.

We actually got engaged after the ACEN masquerade, having entered our new monster hunter builds and winning the contest. An online community that I helped establish have been using ACEN as a meet-up event for many years and while we were out they decorated one of the back rooms of the suite we had gotten and I popped the question there.

SETTERSPECS: We had been working so hard to finish the Monster Hunter cosplays. We had planned to enter the contest. It was so down to the wire that I was temped to say it was good enough to get us rest but CaffeineCraft’s determination was our driving force. I barely noticed little hints he dropped leading up to the contest. I felt them more of uniting thoughts of what we were striving to acomplish.

The contest was in itself a nervous thing for me. I don’t have stage fright once on stage just right before the judging was at the last minute back stage but it was a great time and we made some new friends. So I of couse did not notice a thing.

We returned to our room, our friends cheered when we entered for our win and as we went to our room to get out of costume when I saw flower petals on the floor. Our friends that had been acting as handlers helped us put our props down then stepped out of the room. The adjoining room in the suite was decorated and lit with little candles where he asked me. I was so surprized and amazed at all the effort made it extra special.

CAFFEINECRAFT: While it wasn’t the costumes we’d originally met in, it was the set that brought us together. We’d had discussions already about remaking the costumes and given their general design and the fox’s wedding folklore it was the obvious choice for updating the pair and using them for our ceremony.

As things settled we quickly came to the idea of doing some kind of split event – one thing for just friends where our nerdy found family could be themselves and one for immediate family.

The idea of a friends wedding quickly became a cosplay one as since the community that we’d largely invite already all went to the con every year, we may well have it there so people don’t have to travel twice – and as a bonus we can have the ‘reception’ last all weekend.

We set about updating and remaking the costumes we’d initially gotten together in, revisiting the ninetales builds and having them fit more with a fairy tale kitsune wedding theme. All of the friends we invited were encouraged to wear costumes if they so choose and to just have fun with it.

Beyond that we actually didn’t do much planning, and I think it speaks volumes to the community we have around us. Our close friends wrote out the script for the ceremony, officiated, decorated, and organized everything.

There was a script! Though we only gave our friends a general idea of what we wanted and they kind of ran with it.I do have my friend’s handwritten notes from the ceremony that I could transcribe.

The blues brothers cosplayer is a good friend and fellow community leader who is a doctor. He’s a good public speaker and I asked if he could say a few words. He sort of functioned like an MC, doing the intro, telling a short story, and helping transition between parts of the ceremony.

The guy in the red is another good friend from DC, he was cosplaying as Lyle Lanley (Monorail guy from the Simpsons). His role in the ceremony was to work up the crowd and through a few plants in the audience, did a rendition of the ‘Monorail’ bit from the Simpsons but as ‘Wedding Day’

The last woman in red was our officiant for the actual exchange of vows and signing the marriage certificate. The cosplay wedding we had at the con was actually the ‘official’ one so far as having someone ordained and signing the paperwork. We did another short thing with our family this weekend (June 10th), that was more of a handing off ceremony and a backyard barbeque.

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