Feature by Sarah Williams.
Welcome to Part Three of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender! In our final instalment, we talk to Claire Core and Craig McGarry, who got hitched at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. They’re huge punk enthusiasts and regulars at many of the big gigs around the country. Although they live only a few miles from Shout Louder HQ in Suffolk, I run into them more often at events like MPF, Wonkfest and Rebellion.
Craig’s originally from Rochdale, whereas Claire’s born and bred in Suffolk. They are one of the most heartwarmingly lovely couples you could possibly imagine; whenever I see then they’re utterly enamoured with one another. The story of how they got together is beautiful and, after meeting at a punk festival, it seems only fitting that they should get married at one too.
Firstly, tell me a bit about yourselves. How did you first get into punk?
- Claire: My sister and cousins got me into punk when I was 7 years old and it’s always been a big part of who I am. I have a huge love for punk in all its forms and really enjoy discovering a new favourite band. Current favourites include Pears, who never fail to exhilarate live, Pizzatramp, Direct Hit! and, of course, I’m a huge Wonker.
- Craig: I got into punk and metal when I was in high school, hanging out with friends skating and going to the odd gig here and there. There was a punk night locally that we went to regularly as getting served was a cinch. Loved it all since then. I’m a huge Misfits fan and an unashamed AFI devotee. I’ve also got a bit of a thing for most psychobilly as well as with celtic or folk punk.
You guys have had a fairly speedy advance through this love stuff. That’s no bad thing! Talk us through how you met.
- Claire: It was at Manchester Punk Festival 2016 after the bands at the Zombie Shack. Craig was bouncing around trying to make everyone have MORE FUN, as he is inclined to do, and I propositioned him. I liked his dance moves and his big daft face.
How did your relationship grow from there?
- Craig: Well, after spending a blissful long MPF weekend together, we kept in contact and met up a few times over the following weeks. It soon became apparent that we were both head-over-heels for each other. The long distance thing wasn’t going to be good enough for too long. We both recognized that we were each in the right place for a proper lovely full-blown relationship and didn’t want to spend time away from each other if we didn’t have to. So I packed up and moved down to Suffolk.
- Claire: Yep, you can’t sustain long distance without complete openness about how you feel plus an end goal to close the distance. We were originally expecting it to take longer for Craig to find a job locally but that happened really fast, and it just felt right. He moved in between Wonkfest and Rebellion!
When did you get engaged?
- Claire: Valentines 2017. Awwww, I know, right? My birthday is the day after, so I was nicely surprised that Craig treated me to a night away but I wasn’t at all suspicious. In fact a proposal couldn’t have been further from my mind. We had both admitted neither of us had any interest in marriage and I was all ‘marriage is slavery, antiquated nonsense…’ But then in a Gin Bar he was down on one knee with this diamond ring with little skulls on, trying to propose above the sound of me going, “What’s going on? What are you doing? Is this for real?” Then I said yes and started to cry and we got free prosecco with gin in it. Tasted rank but hey, free booze.
- Craig: This after months of me insisting “No, I never want to get married” and “No, I am never going to propose”. I really had to work to keep it a surprise. For the longest time it was the case that marriage wasn’t for me. But then I met Claire.
When and where was your wedding?
- Craig: 28 May 2017, Little Neon Chapel, Downtown Las Vegas.
- Claire: It was day two of the Punk Rock Bowling festival. The chapel was over the road from the festival and one block up from our hotel, in a skeezy little shopping area.
You’d planned to go to Punk Rock Bowling before you got engaged, right? When did you decide that you wanted to get married out there?
- Claire: Yeah, I’ve been to Punk Rock Bowling the previous two years and we booked this in the October, intending to celebrate Craig’s birthday. Following the surprise proposal we considered a few options but a Vegas wedding was always my preferred option, both because it was unbeatably cheap and so simple. I wanted to be married to Craig but I’d never wanted a wedding, if you see the difference. One day I was listening to The Lippies’ song Hot Air Balloon and they were singing ‘we’ll fly away’ and ‘fuck everything’ and it all became clear: Vegas was the only option.
Who else did you have there?
- Craig: We invited some folks Claire already knew who were out there for the festival, awesome Canadians Nat and Maria. We also invited a couple we met the day before while having a few beers and a mooch around Vegas; who we got on with famously: Candice and Devlin (also PRB attendees).
- Claire: Nat and Maria took me under their wing on my first trip out there as I was on my own and didn’t know a soul, so it meant a lot that they attended. Candice and Devlin are very much our kind of people; good hearted, fun and up for attending the wedding of people they only just met! Over the course of the festival we became firm friends
Talk me through the whole day – how did it happen?
- Craig: I was watching infomercials and strange TV in our hotel room, trying to ignore the knots in my stomach and waiting for Claire to get ready.
- Claire: Curling my hair took ages, and I’d kept the dress a secret from Craig so he’d be surprised. Craig had been a tiny bit pukey the night before so I expect he was hungover.
- Craig: After being blown away by how gorgeous she looked, we had a big cuddle and a mad dash down to the chapel. Whilst nervously waiting, we posted a cryptic message on Facebook about how people might want to check out the chapel’s page in the next few minutes. They were livestreaming our ceremony and most people didn’t know we were getting married.
If you want to see it for yourselves, you can still watch it here (they get started about 1 minute in): https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleNeonChapel/videos/1903353146610755/
- Claire: After the ceremony we had photos taken, then went with Candice and Devlin to a bar at The Golden Nugget, where we had mimosas and shorts to toast our wedding. I think we must have gone to the festival right after that. After the festival we returned to a different bar at the Golden Nugget where we had many drinks, including a mix of Rum Chata and Fireball whiskey that make Craig excuse himself for a quick vomit. Then we drank tequila until I felt my brain start to burn.
What did you both wear?
- Craig: Claire had hinted that there may be green involved and I may want to dress myself accordingly, but assured me that whatever I wanted to wear was fine. So I opted to stick to the brief and went for a lairy green tropical shirt – you know, cause of the weather – and a pair of 501’s. Claire had also given me a splendid silver pin with a bee on it as a present that morning, which I donned with pride.
- Claire: I was in a green satin and black lace tea dress from Lindy Bop, Irregular Choice shoes from Ebay, a vintage bracelet and a very cheap and cheerful silver choker. The whole lot came in at under £100, of which I am very proud! The shoes hurt like fuck though, so I changed into my cheap generic trainers after a few photos.
Did you have any of your own music / entertainment or did the music festival cover that for you?
- Craig: We were going to have Silly Voices by Wonk Unit for the ceremony (after weeks of consideration) but we didn’t plan it at all well, and forgot up until we were asked what we wanted. We instead had a few stock Elvis songs provided by the chapel, which were fitting enough.
- Claire: Having the Elvis playlist actually was really good because, well, Vegas equals Elvis. Craig had selfishly vetoed my request for the wedding package where the ceremony is performed by a small-statured Mexican Elvis. The rest of the day’s music is somewhat of a blur, but I remember The Real McKenzies, Dickies, Bouncing Souls, Choking Victim and Fidlar. The night was rounded off by Bad Religion. Seeing them for the first time on our wedding day in Vegas was ticking off a punk-rock bucket list item in the best possible way.
What traditional elements of the wedding did you keep?
- Craig: Vows, rings, ummmmmm, we didn’t do much that was traditional
- Claire: Traditional Vegas Elvis songs. Being madly in love is quite traditional I guess?
How was Punk Rock Bowling itself? Who did you see?
- Craig: Punk Rock Bowling was very fun, very hot and Bad Religion were a highlight. The Club Shows (indoor shows at various bars after the festival each night) were a blessing and a real laugh. The show of the weekend was Tartar Control’s set. They were out of this world.
- Claire: It always interests me to see how super excited our transatlantic punk rock cousins get about bands like The Adicts and Cocksparrer. Iggy Pop played, I guess that’s worth a mention. But Tartar Control were so funny, fast and fucked-up, they were a highlight. And I loved seeing Pears and Direct Hit! albeit in a frankly terrifying biker bar staffed by the most sexually aggressive female bartenders you’re likely to encounter. Pears are so intense in a smaller venue, and Direct Hit! made me sing and dance their entire set.
What was the reaction of the people at Punk Rock Bowling to the fact you’d just got married?
- Craig: We had lots of congratulations and friendly smiles but people were not phased because it’s Vegas. There were lots of other newly-weds knocking about even at the festival.
- Claire: Disappointingly few free drinks, damnit!
Is there anything you would change or do differently?
- Craig: Absolutely nothing. It was a perfect day.
- Claire: Shoes. I’d get shoes I could walk in. And I hadn’t written my own vows because I assumed Craig hadn’t. It turned out he had, and I felt like a bit of a dick when it was my turn and I just kinda went, “Oh. Yes. Very well done.”
What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?
- Craig: Do it on your own terms. Think about yourselves first and foremost and make it as fun as possible.
- Claire: Elope. Seriously. Buy a package that covers the whole shebang. Time it to coincide with a festival and you have a built in reception and a whole heap of drunk new best friends to share it with.
What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?
- Craig: Spending a special and manic day with the woman I love.
- Claire: I was gonna say seeing Bad Religion but now I seem like a dick.