Pagan Wedding Guide
Pagan weddings are a beautiful way to celebrate the union of two people. In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about pagan weddings from traditions and rituals to ceremony vow ideas. Read on for all the details!
In ancient times it was believed that there were many different spirits or gods who could bless a wedding ceremony. Pagan ceremonies can be religious or non-religious, but they always have a common thread: showing respect for your ancestors and celebrating love with friends and family.
Image Marni V Photography
What is Paganism?
So let’s start with explaining what Paganism actually is. Paganism is a group of religions that have their roots in pre-Christian Europe. They celebrate the changing seasons and nature’s bounty, usually through festivals or rituals.
Pagan is derived from the Latin ‘Paganus’, which was a term used at the end of the Roman Empire to label people who worshipped a religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.
The word Pagan has connotations of being something bad or evil, but the reality is that modern-day Pagans are just normal people who have a different belief system than most. They celebrate nature and revere it as sacred instead of seeing it as base or profane.
Pagan weddings tend to be non-religious because they focus on the union between two people instead of the divine. Over time, many elements from paganism have become part and parcel of modern non-religious wedding ceremonies.
Pagan Wedding Traditions
The main traditions that Pagans subscribe to is handfasting (tying your hands together as a sign of unity), jumping over fires or brooms for good luck, and feasting after the ceremony.
The most important part of a pagan wedding is that it must be uniquely created for each couple, instead of following tradition or ritual exactly as it has been done before.
There are many different elements you can add to your pagan wedding ceremony from colored ribbons on trees for good luck, handfasting oaths and blessings, to incorporating the elements into your wedding vows.
Pagan Wedding Ceremony – Handfasting
A pagan wedding ceremony can be a mix of traditional pagan rituals. The most popular for modern weddings is a handfasting ceremony.
Handfasting is a ritual where two people are bound together as one. It’s an ancient Celtic wedding custom that has been adopted into modern weddings, and it can be adapted to include some of the elements you want for your wedding ceremony.
A handfasting takes place before the actual wedding vows with both parties’ hands being tied together during the ceremony. Tying the knot.
Handfasting is a way to show love and commitment to each other in front of your friends and family, while also showing the world that you are committed.
The word handfasting comes from an Old English term meaning “tying hands” or binding promises. Each person in the ceremony holds a part of a wrapped cord or ribbon, and when they recite their wedding vows, one end is tied together.
Pagan Wedding Ceremony ideas
Jumping the broom
Jumping over a broom is an old pagan custom that was once used for good luck in marriage ceremonies. The idea behind it is to sweep away any past negativity from your life before you start fresh with your spouse.
The four elements
Most Pagan wedding ceremonies will include or acknowledge the 4 elements in some way during the ceremony. This adds a sense of balance and harmony to the proceedings. Air, fire, water, and Earth.
Tying the Knot
Most Pagans believe that tying the knot symbolizes two souls becoming one. It also represents their combined strength and commitment to each other, which is why most Pagan weddings include some form of handfasting or binding ritual.
The knotting ceremony consists of the couple being bound together, usually with a ribbon or cord. During this process, the couple recites their vows and exchanges rings to symbolize that they are now one. There are many different knots and rituals which we talk about in detail in our handfasting blog.
A sacred circle
Guests gather in a circle around the couple and the officiant, usually in an outdoor ceremony.
Blessing the space
The officiant, generally a priest, priestess, or revered friend, will light incense or sage and invite the gods, goddesses, and spirits to gather as a spiritual circle around the physical circle.
Gods, goddesses, spirits, and ancestors
Many diverse gods, goddesses, and spirits are worshipped by Pagans. The elements are also represented in a variety of ways. The officiant will call these beings or powers to join the event at the start of the ceremony before any sacred readings or vows are said.
Offerings and altars
Near the officiant, an altar may be prepared with significant items such as candles, incense, or blessed wine. The couple can use these items in a unity ritual, or they may offer them to the gods. If you haven’t been asked to, keep your hands off them.
Poems, songs, theatrical performances, and stories
The officiant and/or guests provide joyful readings, these can last much longer (and include more interaction with guests) than those at nonreligious or traditional weddings.
Is a pagan wedding legal?
In some countries yes. It depends on your country or state’s rules and regulations. In the UK, for example, it is perfectly allowed to have a pagan wedding ceremony but this would not be legal until you officially registered the marriage.
Who can perform a Pagan wedding?
Anyone can perform a pagan wedding ceremony. It could be your friend, someone you know or if the bride and groom are already practicing pagans themselves they may choose to do it on their own with just their families present.
The best person to officiate is someone who knows you both well, has known you for at least six months beforehand and can perform a ceremony that both you and your future spouse will enjoy.
You can opt to have a higher priest or priestess perform your ceremony if you are a practicing pagan. Or most celebrants will offer handfasting ceremonies as an option.
Pagan vow ideas
A Pagan wedding is an opportunity to make your vows special and unique. There are many different pagan vow options but the most important thing is to make it personal and unique to you as a couple.
Work with your chosen officiant and come up with vows that tell a story about you as a couple. Here are some ideas for vows to one another.
May you be filled with joy for the rest of your days. May the road rise to meet you, and may the wind be at your back. May sunbeams warmly fall upon your home, and may a friend’s hand always be nearby. Green is the grass on which you walk; blue is the heavens above you; innocence is pure.
These are the hands of your closest companion, the ones that are young and strong and full of affection for you, which are clasping yours on your wedding day as you vow to love each other today, tomorrow, and always. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as you create your future together. These are the hands that will passionately adore
These are the hands that will wipe away your tears time and time again, tears of sorrow and joy. These are the hands that will hold your children carefully, hands that will bind your family together.
These are the hands that will provide you strength when you need it, offer support and encouragement as you pursue your ambitions, and soothe you during challenging times. Furthermore, these are the hands that, even though bent and wrinkled, will still be reaching for yours, still conveying the same unspoken affection with a light touch.
Do you think that you could trust each other with your hearts and yourselves, and make time to be together?
The dark blue cord, representing Water, is draped over the couple’s hands to symbolize that your love may flow and fill you to your depths. [The dark blue rope is draped over the pair’s wrists.]
Will you both try to alleviate one another’s anguish and suffering, sharing joy and pleasure?
The second binding is made of green, which symbolizes Earth and indicates that your love may be wise and nurturing, as well as being happy. [The couple’s hands are draped in a green cord.]
Will you use your daily actions and encouraging words to keep your relationship alive?
The third strap is made of red, signifying Fire, to symbolize the brightness and passion of your love. [The red cord is draped over the hands of the couple.]
Will you both assist one another in developing your spirit and intellect?
The fourth binding is completed with a light blue cord, symbolizing Air, which may represent your love as limitless as the sky and filled with life. The light blue cord is draped over the hands of the couple. All four cords are linked together.)
You’ve just been bound together, your two lives linked by love and trust into one.
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