Well, some will know, and others not, that on Sunday Tassja agreed to marry me. Poor girl. Of course, I'm deliriously happy, not least because I didn't have to drug her first!
In all seriousness, she makes me very happy. She's honest and thoughtful and tirelessly imaginative. I'm very, very lucky.
We're planning to hold our wedding next summer, somewhere in Scotland. We have a celebrant apparently eager to work with us (thank you, Potia!), and we're lucky in that she's one of few registered pagan celebrants in the country.
The law in Scotland is slightly different to England and Wales, in that as long as a celebrant is registered to be a legal registrar, the wedding service can be performed anywhere. A Scottish General Registrar page lays it all out thus:
There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to 'marriage vows' in Scotland. The attached is a guide to the form a civil marriage ceremony might take (Civil Marriage - Example of the Form of Ceremony 61 Kb pdf file) and registrars are more than happy to confirm in advance the form of words to be used during the ceremony. In a religious marriage ceremony, the approved celebrant must not solemnise a marriage except in accordance with a form of ceremony which includes and is no way inconsistent with
a. a declaration by the parties, in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they accept each other as husband and wife; and
b. a declaration by the celebrant, after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then husband and wife.
Note that the above example file is just an example. I would certainly hope that our wedding doesn't come across as dry as that!
So what about ours? How will it be? I know that some of our friends and family may have some concerns about it being a different sort of wedding, so I'm hoping to answer some questions here.
Is a pagan wedding or a handfasting still legal? I thought it was just pretend.
In many cases, pagan couples choose to forgo the legal requirement for a wedding, making it more of an informal arrangement or a partnership. Some even agree to renew their handfasting after a year and a day. This has a historical basis in that many people couldn't afford a church wedding, and so chose to make their partnership official in the eyes of their community, without the need for intercession by an official body. Nowadays, there are more strict legal requirements on a wedding contract in England and Wales, such as it being recognised by an Anglican priest, or an official Registrar. In Scotland the requirements are slightly more relaxed - the service doesn't need to be held in a registered building, for example.
All that said, our wedding will be carried out by a registrar, and so will be a "legal" wedding, and not just pretend.
What goes on at a pagan wedding? Will there be naked dancing and drunken revelry?
Even at the wildest ceremonies I've attended, there's not been naked dancing, and certainly no more drunken revelry than your average wedding! That said, neither Tassja or myself drink, so we're unlikely to want to get out of control. As for what form the wedding itself will take - most pagan ceremonies are performed standing or sitting in a circle. They're also almost always outdoors. They can take many forms, since paganism is a very individual spirituality. Often, there are no direct references to specific deity (or deities), and partners are asked to make vows on "that which they hold most sacred". Almost always, though, the powers of the natural world are honoured.
Will I have to dress up?
If you like! It's going to be a special day, and on special days, it's nice to wear special clothes. It may be worth bearing in mind, though, that we'll be outdoors, and footwear can be an issue. I have a feeling Tassja and myself will be barefoot ;-)
Is it okay for me to join in, even though I'm a Christian, an Atheist, or a member of another faith community?
Absolutely! In my eyes, spirituality is something to be respected in people, no matter what their beliefs. More than that, it's sacred. To me, the divine is about imminence. It is hard to deny the warmth of the sun on your face, the inherent energy in that warmth, whether you believe the Sun to be God's creation, a deity in itself, the bringer of warmth and light to our planet, or a large ball of reacting hydrogen and helium atoms. I would ask that you bring your faith with you to our wedding, and honour us with your presence, and with the presence of that which you hold as sacred. I would not ask that anyone change any part of themselves or their beliefs, and would hope that all can be included and accomodated.
There are more details to follow, since we're only just planning now. If anyone has any specific questions, comments are welcome, as are emails.
Peace out ;-)