When I was initially contacted to perform a ceremony, I had to do a lot of research to better understand what was involved since I had never heard of Wiccan and assumed Pagan meant Atheist after spending most of my life in Baptist, Methodist and Non Denominational Churches since I was raised in the Christian Faith and my family believed in raising all of us in the church.
Although it’s true that a Pagan or Wiccan Wedding is very different different than what you or I may be accustomed to–Pagans believe in inclusiveness and the Bride & Groom gave me an overview to explain symbolism although our religious beliefs didn’t match. I have officiated over 700 weddings and events the past 6 years and try to be open minded regarding any request.
Pagans are into positive energy and tend to focus on the good in the world and are actually gentle souls. Ideally, your invitation will give you a hint as to what you should wear and an outdoor wedding is a good bet. A Spring wedding may involve lighter or brighter colors and the couple tend to design their own ceremonies. The ceremony often starts with the officiant turning to each point of the compass and honoring the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. It’s possible to see objects that symbolize the elements such as salt (earth), a candle (fire), a feather (air), and a bowl (water).
Handfasting is the wrapping of the cord around the couples joined hands. This symbolizes different things to different people-a traditional Handfasting was a trial marriage, in which the couple stayed together for a year and a day and then had the opportunity to make their marriage permanent.
The officiant (me) will give the couple sage advice on treating each other well and tending to their marriage and then ask guests to affirm their approval of the Union.
A ceremony sample of Handfasting would be “Please join hands. As your hands are joined, so our your lives. Holding each other, supporting one another and loving each other.” The groom would be asked to repeat after me “I promise (bride) that I will be your husband from this day forward, to love and respect you, to support and hold you and to be there when you cry, to hold you when you are hurting and to be your companion and your friend on this journey that we will make together.” The bride will repeat these vows and I will announce that the couple are bound together and untie the ribbon wrapped around their joined hands.
There are many variations to a wedding ceremony of this type and its always helpful to the officiant if the couple and their family help “customize” their ceremony.
Jumping The Broom has many variations. Sometimes it takes place at the wedding ceremony or the reception or another method has the broom lying at an angle at the couples new home as they take turns jumping over it. Some hold the belief that the higher the leap-the more powerful the marriage will be.
This ritual symbolizes the couple jumping into their lives together and their committment to making their marriage work.
The earliest mention of Jumping The Broom seems to come from the 18th century. Regardless of the origin, Jumping The Broom has been embraced by the Welsh as a sort of common law marriage act. The symbolic role of the broom is rich and varied in Celtic culture.
Another modern practice is to leap over a fire and then leap over the broom immediately after that. It is thought that the fire will burn away negative influences of the pasts. Often the Handfasting cord may be fixed to the broom and placed prominently in the marriage home.
Wedding cakes can symbolize the forest or be gothic in design and “compliment” the theme of the wedding or celebration.
A few weeks ago at a wedding that I was officiating, the cake topper featured two skeletons kissing. The cake designs are always amazing and intricate. A fairy themed event will often have an enchanted forest cake while a gothic wedding will have a much “darker” tone.
Medieval clothing can often be found at these types of weddings. There are hundreds of websites for “Pagan Wedding Dresses.” Many have hoods and others do not but most have lacing or corsets along with numerous tiers of lightweight fabrics. These gowns can be “fairy inspired” full of innocence or gothic in style and form.
At one wedding, I noticed that most of the wedding party (and guests) had several tattoos that were mostly hidden by the medieval clothing. Since I’ve never had a tattoo (or desired one), I asked why there were so many people with tattoos. The groomsman I asked had tattoos up to his chin and I felt compelled to find out more about a culture of tattoos that I have never understood. My son and daughter in law love tattoos and although I don’t understand why-asking someone on location gave me an answer that I wasn’t expecting. Tattoos are an art form to the person wearing them and (believe it or not) they are passionate about sharing the stories behind their body art.
Apparently, many people believe in representing their religion or their faith through tattoos on their body. These tattoos can describe the persons beliefs or mindset with the design. Occasionally, the tattoo depicts the uniqueness of their personality and spirituality.
Clothing of guests and members of the wedding party are often as unique as tattoos and their own personalities. From gypsy type clothing to romantic gothic clothing-a huge assortment of Wiccan and Pagan ritual wear can be found on the Internet.
On the handful of occasions that I have been a guest or officiant, it should be noted that clothing at these events are fun and often fantastic in color and styling!
There are numerous traditions that are incorporated into the celebration of a marriage and barefoot dancing- for those who have never been to this type of wedding celebration, it’s something you might approach with an open mind and respect the couples wishes by accepting their faith with an open heart.
At Texas Twins Events & The Pawning Planners, we offer Alternative Wedding Services. What are Alternative Wedding Services? If you aren’t getting married in a church, then you are looking for alternatives. Maybe it’s because you yourself are alternative or non traditional and getting married in a church just “doesn’t work for you.” Either way, you’ve no doubt already found that the pool of wedding officiants who are open minded and willing to accommodate you is rather limited. I provide personalization and customize your ceremony to give you more flexibility and ensure you have the wedding ceremony you desire- regardless of the setting or theme.
Many couples consider themselves non-traditional and do not belong to a church of worship. Often these couples have two different faiths or cultures. I welcome couples who like to combine different cultures or religions as well as those from alternative lifestyles. All of my businesses are LBGT friendly and giving you the wedding ceremony of your dreams is a goal for myself and my staff.
Wendy M Wortham