OUR FIRST PAGAN WEDDING
Lots of our couples are choosing less traditional ceremonies these days, from humanist and spiritual, to elopement, civil and even the high stakes ambush!
But last year we had the pleasure of capturing a beautiful Pagan wedding for Harry and Tom. After the legalities were taken care of, they carried out an emotive Pagan ceremony, and it was a truly special occasion for us, let alone them.
One thing we particularly enjoyed was speaking with Helen Parsons, the Pagan Wedding celebrant that Tom and Harry had chosen for their big day. She talked us through many of the age-old traditions on display, such as handfasting – the binding of hands that creates a sacred bond between the couple. It’s a true union of body and soul, and while it’s not legally binding it is still a beautiful way of affirming your commitment to each other whilst keeping the practise alive.
Pagan ceremonies are ideally held outside and begin by marking out a sacred circular space. The Gods and Goddesses are then called upon to bless the future life of the couple. The celebrant will honour the Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire Water) and welcome all who are present to witness this bond.
The natural cords used to bind the hands are traditionally coloured to the wedding couple’s choice, each colour symbolising something different, for instance red for will, strength, courage and fertility; orange for encouragement, attraction and kindness; and blue for patience, understanding, health and loyalty.
While Tom and Harry’s right hands were being bound during their ‘handfasting’, they exchanged oaths with each other. These were their own vows and personal to them, written to reflect and celebrate their relationship. Not your typical love, honour and cherish. (We were crying our eyes out, I don’t mind admitting.) Harry and Tom’s hands were then unbound again, representing that they remain together of their own free will.
Some couples apparently choose to make their handfast vow for the traditional period of a year and a day. So it is not uncommon for Pagans in long-term relationships to renew their vows after every year and a day that passes. The idea is that neither comes to take the other for granted, and we for one absolutely love it. It’s a hard yes from us on the annual handfast.
But Pagans don’t just vow to handfast for a year and a day or for life. Many, in accordance with the Pagan belief in reincarnation, do so for all their future lives as well. How’s that for commitment?
After Tom and Harry’s handfasting was complete, rings were exchanged and there were yet more tears, from us (and more than a few guests as well).
The ceremony concluded with a symbolic act of 'jumping the broomstick', whereby the couple jumped over a broom, hand in hand. This act, Helen explained, represented the crossing over from their old lives to their new shared life. We feel really privileged to have had this insight into Pagan ceremonies, and to have been able to document Tom and Harry’s wonderful Pagan wedding. Hopefully it won’t be long before we get the chance to do it all again.