For those of you looking for some pagan wedding vows and ideas, I wanted to share my handfasting ceremony script. It includes introducing the handfasting ritual, a reading, jumping the broom (which we call a besom) pledges from family and friends, a ring-warming ceremony, and more! Most of this is my own writing, but some is adapted from standard handfasting rites.
I know it might get a little confusing with all the initials. I hope you'll follow along as best as you can!
Beginning and Space Blessing
Clacking antlers. Start drumming.
My partner “G” and I walk into the circles together to drumming, bells and clapping and stuff. Once they are before the altar and facing each other, the drumming stops.
Officiant 1 to attendees: We welcome you, our friends and family, and thank you for joining us. Today we have the pleasure of helping G and Juniper make the transition from “boyfriend and girlfriend” to “husband and wife”.
Officiant 2 to attendees: They do this today in the form of a handfasting ceremony, simply put, they will be “tying the knot” in the Celtic tradition. You are free to take part in this ceremony as much as you are comfortable with. At any time you may quietly step outside of the circle.
Officiant 1: We will begin with an old tradition. Wedding bells have been rung for thousands of years, in sacred groves and churches, for the purpose of driving away negative energies and nasty spirits. And also to bring luck to the couple about to be wed.
Ja: HAIL HAIL HAIL! Today we witness the joining of these two people. We banish all negative energy that may be found here!
C: And bless this space with scared herbs!
Ja brandishes her weapon/shield, walking around the space slowly (between the inner and outer circles) making a bit of a ruckus and being generally awesome and intimidating.
C follows behind scattering flower petals and herbs from a basket.
A clacks time with his antlers.
M rings the crystal bell from the altar.
Guests rings bells and bang drums.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen may join in by also clacking together or brandishing their weapons.
Ja: This space is now purified and protected! Let the ritual begin!
Ja and C return to their places in the inner circle.
M: Now we will have a reading. As this landscape is special to both G&J, we will have a simple prayer to the land upon which our feet rest.
I call upon the land of Raven's Knoll
The mysterious ways of the Bonnechere River,
Mysterious as the shadows of Mirkwood
Shadowed as the depths of the swamp
Deep as the waters of the sacred well
The joy of swimming in the waters of the cauldron
Joyful as the dancers around the drumming firepit
Dancing as the leaves in the birch grove
Sticks, leaves and pine needles raked away at work weekends
Pine needles that make our beds under the pine forest
Peace and pride found under the rainbow tree
With honour and pride we raise god poles in the Ve
And honour given to our ancestors at the standing stone
Ancestors and lost women we remember with the great dream catcher
Dreams we hold dear as we kneel before the lord and lady shrine
Strong women who refuse to kneel at the red spiral
Spiraling into the center of the witchring to visit the stangs there
A centre of strength and manhood at the men's carin
Strong backs who keep the fires
Little fires of memory that we kindle in our hearts
Warmly we remember lost pets and loved ones together
Firelight that brings warmth and mirth
Reverence and mirth at the trickster's pole
Mirth and song lift our spirits at the stage
Spirits of the land whom we make offerings to at gnome home
Offerings given as we bake in the hot sands around the berms
And eat the bread baked in the woodfire oven that we built
Together we work to build community in the Raven field
Ravens who fly above the the knolls that guard this land
We call upon the land of Raven's Knoll
We honour our gods
We honour the spirits
We honour the ancestors
Declaration of Intent
A to G&J: G and J, you are not children who have recently left your parents homes, still wearing rose coloured glasses. You are both adults in your own right. You have loved and lost before. You know what each you of seeks in a partner and what you have to offer in a relationship. You stand here today to share the joy you find in each other, and the dedication you have for one another, with those who matter most to you.
M to G&J: You have already built a home together. You have already spoken words of love and commitment to each other, in the privacy of that home, and followed up those words with deeds. You have gone to the trouble of filing the paperwork that needed to be married, and we all know how much J hates paperwork! You stand here today before family and friends, before the gods and ancestors, to publicly pledge your commitment to one another.
Family & Folk Pledges
A: Two people in love do not live in isolation. Their relationship is a source of strength with which they may nourish not only each other, but also the community around them. And in turn, we, their community of friends and family, have a responsibility to this couple. By our steadfast care and respect, we can support their marriage, which in turn support us, which in turn supports them … And so on, in a cycle of love, support and strength.
A to G's mom: Jo as G's mother, will you celebrate this marriage, standing beside them in rough times, and allow no one to do harm to their relationship?
Jo: I will.
A to groomsmen: Gentlemen, you stand here as G's closest friends. Will you celebrate this marriage, standing beside them in rough times, and allow no one to do harm to their relationship?
Groomsmen: We will.
MA to J's mom: S as J's mother, will you celebrate this marriage, standing beside them in rough times, and allow no one to do harm to their relationship?
S: I will.
M to bridesmaids: Ladies, you stand here as J's closest friends. Will you celebrate this marriage, standing beside them in rough times, and allow no one to do harm to their relationship?
Bridesmaids: We will.
A to guests: Good folk who have gathered here today, you stand here as G and J's community. Will you celebrate this marriage, standing beside them in rough times, and allow no one to do harm to their relationship?
Folk/guests: We will
M: So mote it be!
M to groomsmen: Who here is guarding the rings for this couple? Please bring them forth and place them on the tray.
Groomsmen bring up the rings and put them on the pretty tray, then return to their places.
A: Now we will do a ring warming ceremony. R will walk around the two circles holding out the tray with the rings upon it. As R goes around, hold out your hands, palms down, and send out any blessing, energy or love onto the rings as they are passed under your hands.
R picks up the tray and carries it around, first the outer circle and then the inner. Walking around slowly but without stopping.
As R walks with the rings, the folk chant
CHANT: We give thanks for unknown blessings, Already on their way
The rings are given to G and J and the tray returned to the altar. R goes back to her place. End chant.
M to G&J: Now both of you will hold the rings you have to give the other as you speak your vows, so that they may be a symbol of the promises you make today.
Vows go here. I'm choosing not to share them because they're deeply personal.
M: G do you swear to live by these things for so long as your love shall last?
G: I do
M: J do you swear to live by these things for so long as your love shall last?
J: I do
M: I have spoken, “for as long as your love shall last” rather than “until death do you part” in the face of the reality that situations and people change.
A: However, this does not mean rending your partnership at the first sign of trouble or disagreement. All relationships face difficult times. It is your responsibility within this partnership to strive for acceptable solutions, to work toward healing the hurts that will occur. Only after having exhausted all other avenues of possibility and not reaching a solution, should such a bond be broken.
M: Do you both swear to do the work it takes to build a healthy, respectful and long-lasting relationship?
G&J: We do.
M: Then you may exchange rings now.
G&J exchange rings.
A: These rings will act as reminder of the promises you made to each other today. As symbols of your commitment to each other. Filled with the love and support your friends and family have for you. So mote it be!
Tying the cords
M: Now it is time to for you two to tie the knot! Hold out your hands.
G&J hold hands and raise them up.
M ties the cords as A recites.
A: These are the hands that will work alongside yours.
These are the hands that will passionately love you.
These are the hands that will cherish you through the years.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
These are the hands that will help you build your life together.
M: With the joining of hands and the fashioning of knots, so are your lives now bound, one to another. So mote it be!
Jumping the Besom
A: To mark the beginning of their new future together, G and J will jump the besom, or broom. A besom symbolizes both union as well as threshold that must be crossed. This also symbolizes the daily details of marriage.
M: Will the groomsmen please place the besom?
Besom is placed on the ground. G&J line up to jump.
Clacking antlers and drumming. Shouts of “Jump! Jump!”
G&J jump. The crowd goes wild!
A: I now pronounce you husband and wife!
M: G, you may kiss your bride.
A: May your life together be blessed, Thrice hail!