KAYLA DRAKE | Video Content Manager
Weddings typically include a white dress and tux, but not for one faculty member at Lindenwood.
Director of First Year Programs Sarah Leassner, formerly Sarah Tetley, was married by a scary clown.
The idea for the unusual wedding started two years ago, after the couple checked into the DoubleTree Inn in Williamsburg, Virginia. In a pub adjoining the hotel, they met Sid Haig, who plays Captain Spaulding in “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects.” Over drinks, Haig mentioned he married people on the side in character as Captain Spaulding.
“At the time, we had only been dating for nine months,” Sarah said. “Steve looked at me and joked — which sometimes I think he wasn’t joking — ‘This might be your only chance.’”
Haig was staying at the DoubleTree Inn for Scares That Care, an annual convention that invites authors and actors from the horror genre together for one weekend. All of the proceeds are donated to a different recipient each year.
Sarah and Steve weren’t aware of the convention previously, but after meeting Haig and Kane Hodder, who played Jason on “Friday the 13th,” they planned to attend it in the summer of 2018.
The event was especially intriguing to Steve, who plays “Slapshot,” a clown for the nonprofit Moolah Shrine Clowns.
In addition, the couple share an affinity for horror movies. So getting married by Captain Spaulding became an ongoing joke.
But the conversation didn’t get serious until July, a couple weeks before the couple planned to attend the Scares That Care convention.
“[Steve] said ‘No one is crazy enough to take me up on this offer,’ and I told him I’m in love with you enough that I’m willing to take you up on this offer,” she said.
Sarah’s co-worker, Penny Bryant, director of Student and Academic Support Services, said the wedding wasn’t a surprise given Sarah’s caring nature.
“This is somebody who would do anything for you, so because she is so in love with this man, and he is in love with being a clown and scary movies, she agreed to this,” Bryant said.
The couple did not tell family, friends or co-workers their plan to get married at the convention. The final step was working up the courage to ask Haig if he would do it. They popped the question after the couple arrived back in Williamsburg.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Haig asked.
The next day, Sarah and Steve gathered all the legal documents, bought rings and shopped for outfits.
“I asked Steve if I should wear a white shirt, and he said ‘Yeah, I guess.’”
The minor details were not important to Sarah because she said they were marrying the “love of each other’s life.”
On Saturday, Aug. 4, Sarah walked down the hotel hallway in a white shirt and blue jeans. Her hotel neighbor and recent friend saw Sarah without jewelry and said “That’s not how this is going to go down.”
Then, the woman gave Sarah her own necklace and earrings and bought Sarah a bracelet, something new and blue.
“That’s how this convention is; it’s like instant family,” Sarah said.
Then the couple waited at the end of Captain Spaulding’s photo-op line. Haig’s last fans of the day. There in front of the green screen, with Steve wearing knee-high Captain Spalding socks, the couple was married.
“We always joke, maybe we can put a beach scene and a lighthouse in the back because we were supposed to get married in Key West,” Sarah said.
The most common reaction from friends, kids, coworkers and family was “Oh, of course you did,” Sarah said.
“[Their reactions] make me feel great because it really represents us,” Sarah said. “It wasn’t one person pressuring the other. This was 100 percent how we were meant to be married.”
Christie Rogers, associate vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, who is terrified of clowns, said the thought of the ceremony “mortified” her, but it suits the couple.
“It really does fit their energy and what they appreciate out of life, which is the entertainment and being able to help and serve others, but doing it in a fun and vibrant way,” Rogers said.
That night, the DoubleTree Inn sent the couple champagne and a piece of cake topped with a Captain Spaulding Lego. Then at karaoke, the Leassner’s new friend sang their first song, “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra.
“It was all rock songs and all of the sudden this crooner comes up, and Steve and I start dancing, and the whole place went ‘Aw,’” Sarah said. “Then [everyone] started talking about what happened because this wasn’t planned or expected.”
The two travel often together, and Sarah said they love telling stories about their adventures, but this one surpasses them all.
“Even though it was nontraditional, everyone who was there really helped us celebrate in doing some of those traditional pieces, which made it all the more special.”