The A to Z of Our Handfasting

Mr P and I chose to be hand fasted for several reasons. Most importantly it fitted our belief systems to a “T,” but there were secondary issues to take into account such as the Catholic church’s refusal to marry couples where one of the couple has been previously married and divorced and the nightmare of red tape that would have to be surmounted for a couple of two different nationalities to get married in a civil ceremony in a third party country. We are also both of the opinion that we did not need or want the state to recognise our union.

Our handfasting was a way for us to make a commitment to each other in front of our friends and family and to give thanks for them and for the many blessings we have in our lives.

We missed the traditional day for handfasting — May 1st — so we looked to find another suitable day that would fit our purposes. We chose 22nd September 2012, the date of the Vernal equinox, where the sun and moon are equally balanced and also the Wiccan Sabbat of Mabon — or harvest thanksgiving. The actual time of the equinox was 14.49 and we aimed to be taking our vows at the moment of perfect balance.

Once we had the date, next came the venue hunt. We wanted to help as many people as we could to get here and to provide accommodation for my children and the band of helpers who made the event happen.

We looked at several places which could hold/sleep large numbers of people. One we discounted because it was in the middle of town, we fancied a bit of privacy and were left with three possibilities, two self-catering complexes and a large villa with its own grounds.

One of the complexes was already partially booked; the other offered us no discount for hiring the whole complex for the week, which left us with the villa, which was our favourite anyway. We booked the villa for a week — Wednesday to Wednesday and we booked the rest of the partially booked complex for the overspill of visitors.

The practicalities out of the way — one guest was in charge of photographs and cupcakes, another video, another was in charge of flowers we were left with the ceremony and food to organise.

The ceremony whilst very personal to us had to be inoffensive to others. We were both keen to void the word marriage but needed to convey the sense of marriage/commitment to the elder members of his family. It was a very fine line to walk. I would wear an off white floaty dress that could emphasise the marriage aspect but could also be decorated up for the Wiccan aspect. We also decided to have printed order of service like most “weddings” do.

This is the wording we decided on. We welcomed people; we explained handfasting, asked the four corners for their blessings, took our vows, got “hitched” and gave thanks.

Introduction — Celebrant

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen — welcome to the handfasting of Philippe and Nickie — Thank you all for being here today — I know a lot of you have travelled a great distance to be here. Can I ask you to form a circle around us wrapping them in your love and good energy.

Philippe and Nickie have chosen to be handfasted today in front of their family and friends so they can share with you the happiness and joy they have found in their relationship and to give thanks to the universe for their blessings of which you as family and friends are a major part.

Hand fasting is an ancient Celtic tradition in which a couples hands are tied together with ribbons or cords symbolising a permanent partnership. I ask those present to bear witness to their commitment and support them in their future life together.

Service — Celebrant

“Since ancient times, people have communed with nature to learn more about themselves by example. Since it is within nature that we all do abide, we ask for Philippe and Nickie the blessings of Nature’s Elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We do this that they may fully come to understand the lessons each element has to offer. The attributes of which are examples of those aspects they mirror not only within divinity but within ourselves as well.”

“We ask the spirits of Air to keep open the lines of communication between this couple. May their future be as bright as the dawn on the horizon. As Air flows freely to and from and through us all, may their hearts and minds and souls come to know the world and each other in this manner. Seeing not only with their eyes, may they together grow wise with wisdom.”

“Spirits of Fire, we ask that Philippe and Nickie’s passion for each other and for life itself remain ever strong and vital, fortifying each day with a vibrancy rooted in boldness, and courage. As Fire clears the way for new growth, may they know that this power is theirs: to create change and bring about the richness and quality that comes with a true love of life.”

“We ask the Spirits of Water, that their love for each other and the comfort of loved ones, like the serenity of the deep blue ocean, be the oasis that forever surrounds our Bride and Groom. May they be well loved, and love well, letting the surety with which Water makes its journey to the sea, flowing over rocks or around trees, even turning into vapour and riding a cloud, ever serve as a reminder that with love all is well and will endure.”

“Spirits of Earth, we ask that you give unto those you see standing before you this day, the rock solid place to stand and fulfil their destiny. May their journey mirror the vast planes and fertile fields, expansive and alive. May they find the right seeds to sow to ensure a bountiful harvest. And when they look up at the Northern Star, may they know that it is as bright and constant as their love for each other as well as the love of the divine is for them.”

Vows — Celebrant

Philippe and Nicky it is our joy to witness and celebrate your union in a rich celebration, sustained as we are in the mysterious power of all creation and whose core is Love.

You come here today as individuals. You come here to become one — of course not to lose yourselves, but instead to promise a new life of unity and love.

And we, your family and friends, have gathered here to share in your joy and to ask the infinite power in creation to bless you.

Celebrant Do you Nickie take Philippe to be your life partner, to walk, run, and dance this new path together, to love, care and share, to let the winds dance between you, let the fires burn within you and the waters flow through you on your sacred journey together.

Nickie I do

Celebrant Do you Philippe take Nickie to be your life partner, to walk, run, and dance this new path together, to love, care and share, to let the winds dance between you, let the fires burn within you and the waters flow through you on your sacred journey together.

Philippe I do

Tying of hands — Celebrant

Celebrant takes the cords and wraps the cords loosely around the couples wrists

Celebrant As we bind together this man and this woman with these cords let their fates and future be so bound. May they hold fast to each other even as they are now held fast.

Celebrant removes cords and replaces them on the altar.

Celebrant As the powers of the universe are witness to these rites I now proclaim you united as one before your friends and family. Philippe and Nickie you may now seal your union with a kiss.

Celebrant Philippe and Nickie would now invite you to join them in a prayer of thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prayer – ALL

In the spirit of humility we give thanks for all that is. We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom. We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now.

We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet, to breathe the air, to taste the food, to experience sensations of a human body and mind, to share in this wonder that is life.

We are grateful for the natural world that supports us, for the community of humankind that enables us to do many wondrous things. We are grateful that we are conscious, that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many gifts we have been given.

Philippe and Nickie We treat that none here present shall suffer neither hunger nor thirst in their mortal days. Let the feast begin!

Philippe and Nickie leave the circle first and lead the guests to the feast.

On the back page we had the following Native American blessing.

May the sun bring you new energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength into your being, and may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

Lastly the food, we chose a menu that reflected the nationality of our guests, something English, French and Portuguese and lots of fruit and CAKE!

As you can see we had the most memorable day with our nearest and dearest. It would not have been possible without the help of my daughters who make the best fruit kebab line ever, my beloved friend Tracy who worked her own magic with the flowers, the photographers and filmmakers, Lara who drove hundreds of kilometres to fetch and carry people and collect food and of course all of those who blessed us with their presence that day.