The Offbeat Bride: Mari-Anne, Substitute Teacher

Her offbeat partner: Larry, Teacher

Date and location of wedding: Loree Chapel and The Lodge at Schooley's Mtn. Park, Long Valley, NJ — October 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: This was not my first time around the wedding block, but it was for Larry. I wanted almost nothing traditional as I had done that already. The most important things to us were that our day expressed who we are, that our friends and family have fun, that we have fun, and that we included most of our interests. Thus was born “LarryAnne's Big Fat Pagan Handfasting” with an enchanted forest theme, complete with costumes. Most of our guests did play along and wore costumes fitting the theme.




I am Wiccan and Hellenic Polytheist. Larry is a Heathen and รsatrรบ. It was important in our ceremony that we honored both of those spiritual traditions without overwhelming our guests. I wrote the ceremony myself having been Wiccan clergy and writing rituals for many years. This included a handfasting ceremony. We made our own handfasting cords, braiding ribbons together and tying talismans and pendants onto the ends along with pieces of amber. We also made our own mead for the ceremony and reception.


Offbeat Bride was invaluable in providing us with all sorts of ideas for the event: an inflatable D20 for guests to roll if they wanted us to kiss and chalkboard stickers on jars for our guests to write their names on and use for the evening, then take home as gifts.

Instead of a DJ, I downloaded a jukebox app to my iPad and used our own playlist with a Block Rocker PA system. Our guests were able to choose what they wanted to hear and dance to, but from OUR favorite music, which included quite a bit of heavy metal.

Our baker created a beautiful four-tier Lord of the Rings-themed cake with scenes from Middle Earth on the main layer, and one layer being The One Ring with Elven script reading: “One love to rule them all.”


We had a custom cake topper made of ourselves and our dogs that included Larry's nickname of “Chainsaw Larry,” his Viking ancestry, and a hat and broom since I am a witch/Wiccan.


sharing mead

Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a blended ceremony including the gods we worship and honor, a handfasting with the cords we made ourselves, and an exchange of chalice and drinking horn with mead we made ourselves. It was in a chapel in the woods above a waterfall which could be heard during the ceremony. It was threatening to rain shower that day in the forecast, but when we woke up at the hotel that morning, we looked out the window and saw brilliant sunshine.


Larry walked down the aisle to “The Anvil of Crom” from Conan The Barbarian.


My ex-husband (one of my best friends) walked me down the aisle, and we walked down the path to “Mystic's Dream” by Loreena McKennitt. Both of my parents have passed away, so it was special to me to have him there for that. Two of our dear friends officiated. We had our guests “warm” our rings and bestow their good wishes on them as they entered the space.


Our vows were quite humorous, but heartfelt, and were call-and-reply with the reply taking a cue from Starship Troopers: “Until you're dead or I find someone better.” They included me accepting his love of flatulence humor, miniature war-gaming and Miami Vice. And his included having to accept my PMS rage, Buffy marathons, and sunglasses addiction. We are polyamorous also, so our vows did not include “forsaking all others.”




Our biggest challenge:
I'm not normally a crafty person. I'm very adept at buying other people's beautiful creations. But I kept seeing things I liked, but that were simply not in our budget, so I took some inspiration and DIYed some projects. With some help at times from friends, I created the centerpieces, the guest signing board, the card box, and chalkboard signage. We managed to come in at about our budget, which made me happy.


My favorite moment:
We loved opening a bottle of 75-year-old cognac that Larry's grandfather in France (who passed away earlier this year) gave to him for a special occasion. We also made a toast to our family and friends in lieu of anyone making one in honor of us.



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Comments on Mari-Anne & Larry’s big fat pagan handfasting

  1. What a stunning wedding!! Truly lovely! And I love that it’s another one in my hometown!

    • Do you live in Long Valley? We are from Sparta, but used to live near Schooley’s Mtn.

      • I did/do. Haha I go to college now but it’s where my parents still live. We’re down in the valley though not up on the mountain ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I just adore the cake topper, especially love the dogs on it!

    I think it’s more meaningful when a couple writes their own vows too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This is so perfect. I am pagan (self proclaimed witch) and my FH is Asatru. I love the cake topper!

  4. Seems like a fun & very meaningful representation of who you two really are! Love the cake & all the personal touches.

  5. EPIC! Between the bouquet, the cake, and the fact that you used Loreena McKennitt AND Buffy references, you’re my hero.

  6. I want you wedding!! No seriously, I just love all of the little touches you have. And your dress is to die for! OMGarhjakarlef. I would love some advice on building a pagan ceremony if you are willing.

    • I can give you some advice if you like. Send me an email or friend me on Facebook. I’m Autumn Mahlau. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ahhh Moresca!! Your wedding is SO awesome, and it’s really nice to see a well done pagan AND nerd fest! Loving the location as well.

    • Thank you so much! We had to eliminate some interests because we have so many of them. But we needed some geekery in there and I simply cannot get enough Moresca in my wardrobe. lol I’ve been wanting Catskill Mountain Moccasins for years and Larry just learned about them, but he needed them for the wedding more than I do, so I ordered mine AFTER the wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Love it! Love it! Love it! Im getting handfasted on Halloween 2014 in the Catskills! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Im a solitaire and would so grateful if I could also contact you on FB to get some help with ceremony ideas that I have swimming around in my head… If, of course, that would be okay with you? Thanks! BB

  8. I’m looking into Schooley’s Mtn as a venue for my wedding!! May I ask, how many guests did you have?

    • Just seeing this now. We wound with around 74 people. We’d invited about 85 or 86. It was perfect. The tables are a little cramped seating 8….but it worked to give us more floor space for dancing and such and our guests only sat down to eat and some brought their food outside to sit in the rockers on the porch and it because it was a beautiful evening.

      • BTW, good luck with your wedding. I ADORED having it at Schooley’s Mtn Lodge. The chapel was perfect because it was surrounded by nature even though there were numerous trees fallen in the area due to Hurricane Sandy….but they cleared the debris. The forest just doesn’t frame the chapel the same way now, but it’s still lovely.

  9. You’re story is truly inspiring. I am in the process of planning my own handfasting and your own experiences have been a big help in my own planning. Where did you have your cake topper made? It is so cute. I have been looking for something similar for me and my kilted man but haven’t had much luck.

    • The link for the Etsy page for the cake topper is listed near the bottom of the article. I will tell you that it ships from Israel…still a great price for something so custom, but it arrived with the chainsaw broken off which we had to repair. My husband is an artist and was able to repair without being noticeable because we didn’t have time to return ship it for her to repair and send back. She did give us some money back for that.

      There are other Etsy shops that do similar types of custom cake toppers based on your photos. Good luck!

  10. I’m so glad for your wedding. My wife and I are pagan. Our wedding was Scottish medieval pagan. I was able to make most of the items that we had. If any other people would like something special shoot me a note. May the Gods bless you.

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