Handfasting : a Pagan Wedding near Loughborough
Esther and Giles’ handfasting followed the druidic tradition. It began with putting up the tipi and other structures, preparing food and socialising, kids running free. My brief was: “do what you want, we trust you”. I could go wherever, and shoot however I wanted. My ideal of course. so I indulged in taking many portraits of beautiful, colourful people, of children having fun and of people showing their love and friendship for one another.
Many people had been preparing this day, the last thing to be done was putting the tipi up.
Once the tipi was up, the women gathered inside to be with the bride and share stories, support, singing and friendship.
The men gathered in the woods, and .. chilled.
The kids.. were being kids, playing together, alone, running, having adventures. Free range.
People kept arriving through the day as they could.
When all were ready, Jay went to the circle they had cut in the long grass, to call for the men.
The men came banging sticks and drums and sounding manly- a lot of it is not taking yourself too seriously.
Giles is a fine archer and his signal to the women was a- blunt-arrow shot.Can you see it flying over the women? In fact the women had had enough of waiting and had started their procession and were coming happily singing.
Men and women came in through an arch made out of branches and ribbons, they made a circle in the field, with an altar in the centre. Giles called out to his beloved to join him.
The first part of the ritual is to call for the elements. Some traditions associate gods and goddesses or animals to the elements, others don’t. North is the Earth, West is Water, which is emotions; South is Fire, and passion; East is Air, and intellect.
The spirits of the land are called forth as well, and the ancestors for their wisdom and gifts.
A handfasting is really about tying the knot! this exists in many other traditions, from the christian priest’s scarf around the couple’s hands, the hindu’s knotted scarves etc.
They read their vows to each other and included their children in their commitment.
Then bread and mead were passed round, with an offering to the Earth. Each person passes it to the next wishing them to never hunger, to never thirst.
This was done with singing and drumming, and children going off on their adventures.
At the end, the elements and the ancestors were thanked for their blessings and gifts, the circle was open and the couple came through a human arch.
People had brought food and drinks to share.
Music, and cake of course.
Family friendly means that dogs are welcome too.
We took a few minutes to bask in the late sunshine and their love.
I left but music, fire, fun and music carried on later. People camped to make the most of it, and attend the solstice ceremony of the day after. It was such a easy, heart warming day, so relaxed, so flowing, I really enjoyed it and everyone did too.
Weddings don’t have to cost the earth, it’s one fabulous day to celebrate two people’s love, often people who already have a strong relationship, may be even kids like Giles and Esther, and want to anchor their love and their family in the support of their community, and the solidity of a legal contract too- we did the registry wedding in Loughborough a month before the solstice.
If you want a relaxed wedding where you enjoy the day, the company of your loved ones, where you make it meaningful to you both, and want memories of this special , beautiful day, I’d love to hear from you. x