[Archive] A very special diorama

Thommy H:

“Hey, Thommy, I know one thing we haven’t organised yet �?” the little people on top of the cake! I’ll phone the lady who’s making it and see what she has available and how much it’ll cost…"

“Hold it right there, Emma. Ain’t no hack confectioner providing any little people for my wedding!“

The Long Defeat

That conversation is not at all what really happened, but the sentiment is the same �?” when it comes to providing miniature people, there’s nothing any baker, confectioner or caterer could do that would look better than something I could put together myself. So, in seventeen days time, this diorama will be sitting on top of our cake stand at our wedding. Let me explain what it’s all about:

  • The bare tree motif has been repeated throughout the wedding �?” it’s on the invitations and the place settings and underpins the central theme and colour scheme. Since it’s a late-Autumn/early-Winter wedding, the idea is that natural world is in decline. We’ve asked all our guests to wear pale, light colours, while Emma’s dress is green and I’m in a dark suit with green accessories. So, while everything else is gripped by Winter, we represent a splash of life and colour. It’s sort of the philosophy behind the Christmas tree tradition. Obviously the snow fits in with this Winter theme. It was made with a mix of bicarbonate of soda and PVA glue.

  • Not all of our invitations featured the tree so prominently �?" for some of our friends (and family members whom we thought would get it) we made some silly invitations that turned the wedding into a schlocky fantasy narrative about a pair of barbarian heroes bringing together a party of diverse heroes (based on our close friends and family) to fight an ancient evil breaking free in the frozen north of the world. This is another, sillier, rendering of the same theme of life opposing death, and you can see where the two figures fit in. Both models are available from Hasslefree miniatures. They’re good people, and we chose them on purpose to provide the raw materials for this.

  • Nature is the wedding’s fundamental theme �?" not only in terms of the decor and the colour scheme, but also in a number of other details. Our tables are each named after an endangered species, and instead of gifts, we’re asking for donations to a conservation charity. The hokey swords-and-sorcery invitations and this diorama follow the same narrative: the heroes are defending the tree against an unseen foe. They fight back to back, united in their defiance of winter’s chill. The tree perhaps represents the last specimen of an ancient forest, or the central shrine of a noble nature cult, now under threat. It is the final stronghold of beauty, order and good, under siege from without.

  • The female character represents Emma, and is painted to look like her (note the freckles). Her outfit is the same colour as the dress. Note also her shield, which features the same tree motif and replicates the design on the invitations: given this uniform, she is obviously some sort of official guardian of the tree, perhaps the last of her formation?

  • The male character represents me (muscles not to scale) and he has no such uniform. Evidently he’s some sort of wandering vagrant who’s become caught up in the fight and has made the cause his own. This represents the fact that conservation was traditionally Emma’s thing (she’s a former zookeeper), but she brought me around to her way of thinking.

  • The most important thing about this diorama for me is that the tree is already dead. That’s why it’s called The Long Defeat. I considered putting a single leaf or blossom on it, to show there was still hope, but I feel the message is stronger if the battle is already lost. The tree is dead, and the snow has fallen, but the characters continue to defend it nonetheless. Their dedication to the cause goes beyond reason �?" although in fact, the only rational reaction to their situation is hopeless defiance, because evil and chaos has already taken over their world, and if they surrender, there really is nothing left. Their only option is to continue to fight this long defeat.

You can read more about my thoughts on this on our JustGiving page for the wedding. Our charity is Save The Rhino. If you care about the cause (and you should!) or if anything I’ve ever done on this forum has improved your life in some small way, please donate just a small amount. I don’t have any interest in the “slave” system here (because I find the concept morally repugnant, and prefer to just ignore the whole thing) so don’t send me any for this �?" just donate a couple of quid (or dollars or whatever) on the page if you like what you’ve seen or read in this thread. It’s a good cause, and it would mean a lot to us.

Finally, anyone on Twitter can use the hashtag in my sig (#emmaandthommysbigday) to follow our updates about the wedding as we get closer and closer to the date �?" Nov 12th.

Thanks for reading!


Looks great! Hope you have a great wedding!


I can only imagine the look of disappointment from all the guys when they find out that Emma won’t be wearing the same costume as that model.

Good luck in your future together!


“Contemplate this, on the Tree of Woe”

Time of Madness:

Congrats on the wedding! Hope you guys have a great day!

Time of Madness


Lovely diorama! Have a great day (:


Nicely done!

As my wife and I were married on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise at the Vegas Hilton, we didn’t have a big cake or anything - just a quiet dinner afterward in the Star Trek themed restaurant eating food like ‘Riker’s Red Alert Chili’ while listening to drunken nerds argue about who is the the better captain - Kirk or Picard! It was a lot of fun - I still feel lucky everyday.

Congrats and best wishes!


Emma’s a good lookin’ gal; love the freckles (I married me a ginger).

You have really been working out a LOT. If the tux doesn’t fit, you can always loincloth it.


Thommy, you appear to be missing your ponytail and glasses :slight_smile:

Nice to see someone else who cares about conservation, I do too.

Hope the big day goes well! :cheers


Nice diorama and a nice story to it!

Hope you have a great day, enjoy it mate!


Nice background to your wedding.  I said my vows a year ago, and did nothing like this.  Glad to see the hobby incorporated into the wedding.  Good luck cause it’s all downhill from here!!! :wink:


Congratulations for the wedding! And that was an interesting (and touching!) way to put together a diorama! It deserves a Golden Daemon for sure!!!

Actually, before reading I thought that the snow was there to represent whipped cream:)!!!

P.S: If the gal is Emma… Than the heavy muscled, sword wielding, generally looking tough guy… depicts you? Jeez, I surely hope I don’t owe you any money!


Since your writings over at Titan Wargames and in your army book certainly have proved useful, I feel guilty that I can’t spare a penny 'til next year, but I hope you receive generous donations. Well thought-through diorama and symbolism. I hope it’ll be springtime for the married.

However, I can’t understand your aversion to the light-hearted slave system on CDO, but each to their own. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Happy wedding!

Thommy H:

Action shot!


Now I’m hungry. It looks good. :slight_smile:


My brother-in-law had cupcake tiers too, but he had a huge mushroom on the top (he’s a mycologist)