A witchy Halloween handfasting next to a cemetery

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 | Photography by DNA Photography
Halloween handfasting
Photos by DNA Photography

Offbeat partners: Marilyn and Jesse

Date and location: Our backyard bordering a cemetery in the mid-Hudson Valley, NY – 10/31/2020

Our witchy Halloween handfasting at a glance:

My partner and I had been together for 10 years before we decided to officially tie the knot. We announced our engagement at the end of October 2019 with plans of having our wedding on Halloween of 2020 (oops). The plan was to incorporate our love of the renaissance faire and the witchy aesthetic that we were known for to make a dark fantasy/enchanted forest vibe.

DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 3 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Our arrangements were modest to begin with, but all of the original locations that we had reserved fell through for various covid-related reasons. We decided to take advantage of our beautiful backyard that borders a cemetery and go full DIY.

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With a month until our date, I scrambled to get a rented set-up for 20 people (down from the original 80), secure a new place for photos, and find a caterer, all while sending out updated information to our guests. And everything turned out lovely despite all the chaos!

Our photos were taken at a nearby castle in the woods which went perfectly with my wife’s princely garb and my gothic poofy dress. It even snowed lightly in the early morning, giving our photos some extra charm.

DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 9 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 8 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

We returned home to find the backyard beautifully decorated (thanks Mom!) and full of close friends and family ready for our handfasting.

The ceremony took place under a large tree with the cemetery in the background.

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Tell us about the witchy Halloween handfasting ceremony

You can see the wording for our Halloween handfasting ceremony here.

Tell us about the witchy Halloween handfasting reception:

Our mini reception was a catered high tea under a tent covered in ribbons and fairy lights. We had two fire pits burning to stay cozy.

DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 31 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

The members of our wedding court brought their favorite treats to serve with our cake (made by me) and our Trick-or-Treat candy bar.

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DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 29 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 41 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

As the sun set, we gathered around the fires and just enjoyed some quality time with our loved ones. The original plan for our full reception was to have a relaxing night of board games and snacks.

We had gathered up our favorite games as well as some new ones that were specifically Halloween or spooky-themed. We were still able to play a few games with some of the friends that stayed late into the night.

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What was the most unique wedding gift you received?

Warning: if you're squeamish, you may want to skip this story…

My wife and I are into “vulture culture” — that is, collecting animal bones and bits. Early during our reception, one of our guests got a phone call and disappeared with the promise to return. He and his boyfriend came back later with what they refer to as a “wedding gift”.

It turns out that a young coyote was hit by a car nearby and our friend was called to see if we would want it. He obviously thought we would (and we did!) so he jumped at the chance.

We spent the next morning digging up the backyard to respectfully make room for this coyote to decompose. Then, on our first anniversary, we dug her back up to collect the bones!

Some people eat their preserved wedding cake a year later, we did this…

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

Less is more! Honestly, covid did us a favor in forcing us to minimize our plans. We were uncomfortable with having a big to-do but still wanted to have fun with our friends and dress up. Our little backyard wedding was a perfect compromise.

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We were able to spend time with everyone individually because we weren’t spread thin trying to greet and thank dozens of people. Not to mention we saved a lot of money!

The one negative thing that happened was that we had planned on live streaming our ceremony for a few friends, but everything moved so quickly that we completely forgot! We went with an unplugged ceremony otherwise, so there wasn’t even a recording to send them afterward.

We also forgot to set up our background music as well. If you’re going to DIY everything, I would suggest delegating tasks to those that you trust so nothing slips through the net!

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Our witchy Halloween handfasting vendors

Where would we be without our besties at Hiranor Workshop! My entire outfit was handmade by them. Lady Hiranor worked so diligently on designing and sewing my dress – there’s no less than 100 yards of tulle in the skirt!

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Lord Hiranor expertly designed and crafted my scalemail cape. He also lent a sword to my wife to complete her look. Not to mention all of the general help they provided, both mentally and physically.

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My tiara was made by Tetra's Treasures on Etsy, to which I added some raccoon bones.

DIY DARK FANTASY HALLOWEDDING HANDFASTING 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Our short cloaks were purchased from Moresca Clothing at a previous year's renaissance faire. My wife sculpted her antler headpiece herself!

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The full witchy Halloween handfasting gallery

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