The Rise of Zombie Weddings: Why Do Love and Death Mix?


Chillicothe Gazette/Brent LewisAn Ohio couple took the notion of “til death do us part” very seriously by tying the knot in a zombie-themed wedding.

Tina and David Fox, both fans of the television show “The Walking Dead,” wed Saturday in their hometown of Circleville in a zombie-themed ceremony. Tina, a 48-year-old hairdresser, wore a long, white thrift-store gown, which she streaked with fake blood; carried an orange-and-white floral bouquet; and painted gashes on her face with costume makeup. Groom David, a 49-year-old sales representative for Frito-Lay, meanwhile, donned a tuxedo stained with fake blood and bore fake facial bruises.

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The couple staggered down the aisle to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music while their guests (also dressed as zombies) cheered them on. Even their priest got into the scary spirit, performing the ceremony while decked out with faux scars and bloody gashes. After the nuptials, guests filed into the couple’s barn where they dined on chili (“It was the grossest-looking meal we could think of,” Tina tells Yahoo Shine) surrounded by glass jars of floating heads purchased from a local beauty school. Later, everyone enjoyed a cake topped with hand-painted zombie figurines.

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“A client of mine knew we loved 'The Walking Dead,' so she suggested that we throw a zombie wedding,” says Tina. “We loved the idea so we went for it.”

David’s son, Michael, told Chillicothe Gazette that he thought David and Tina were “a little crazy” after learning their plans. “But now I’m glad they did because this is the most fun at a wedding I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to conform to any social expectations of a wedding, and I’m having fun.”

These days, the notion of a classic, traditional wedding seems quaint, if not completely obsolete. Whether it’s the proposal, engagement photos, or nuptials, couples are getting more creative with their wedding plans. (According to a recent study conducted by the wedding website TheKnot, 24 percent of couples threw a theme wedding in 2012, a small but significant increase from 2011.) And the “horror wedding,” a trend hooked on the popularity of television shows such as The Walking Dead, the film “World War Z,” zombie burger joints, and zombie survival camp for children, is more popular than ever.

“Weddings are becoming more personalized and inventive, almost like mini-Hollywood productions,” Diane Forden, Editor-in-Chief of Bridal Guide magazine, tells Yahoo Shine. “Couples don’t feel as bound to tradition as they once did and are more likely to incorporate personalized themes that reflect their joint interests.” As a result, there’s been a rise in ‘gimmick weddings,’ interactive productions that involve guests as participants, rather than spectators.

One reason behind the trend could be classic peer pressure. “Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter evoke a sense of competition in many couples,” says Forden. “Even if you weren’t a guest at someone’s wedding, social media is a virtual invite and gimmick weddings are likelier to go viral.” Plus, as couples approach their 30s, their peers often get engaged in droves. It’s not uncommon to attend several weddings in one short time span with mutual friends in attendance. Wedding fever might motivate some couples to make sure their nuptials stand out in a sea of taffeta. 

There might also be a financial component at play. When the recession hit, the wedding industry experienced a huge DIY movement and brides began scouring flea markets in the hopes of hunting down that vintage wedding topper or 1930’s veil. “As a byproduct, weddings became more distinct,” says Forden. “The zombie trend, for example, may be a natural extension of creating a unique wedding.” Also, modern-day couples usually fund their own nuptials, rather than ask their parents for help. And when couples work hard to foot the bill, they’re more likely to express their personal interests.   

And finally, it could be a generational thing. Today's couples are getting married later than ever before. One recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the median age for first marriages is 28 for men and 26 for women. According to Forden, older couples (especially ones entering second marriages) are more likely to forgo tradition in favor of plain old fun.

But while weddings should reflect a couple’s distinct style, there’s no getting around that guests also need to be factored into the equation. Convincing Aunt Millie to paint her face in bloody wounds or your future father-in-law to wear a goblin mask, might not fly when families come together. “It’s important to remember that while it’s your day, it’s also one that you’ve asked your loved ones to witness,” says Forden. “Pledging your commitment to another person is a serious event, so treating it with respect is key.” You can still  add personalized accents — say, zombie cupcakes or asking your guests to post photos using creative hashtags — but, Forden cautions that tastes change over time. "In your golden years," she asks, "do you really want to flip through your wedding album and see blood?"

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