The weekend before Easter was an incredibly special one as my friends and I journeyed to Glastonbury to attend the handfasting ceremony of the lovely Suzie and Simon.
Suzie and I have enjoyed a friendship that spans a few decades now and we have partied together in various guises over the length of that time.
oh to be 17 again!
Back in April 2012 Suzie and her long term partner Simon opted for a low key family centric wedding at Glastonbury’s Registry office taking into account Simon’s ill health at that time.
However, they always wished for a celebration that fully represented the commitment that they have to one another. A ceremony that could involve their friends too.
As Simon’s health improved in 2013, they set about making plans to organise just that. They opted for a handfasting ceremony and for those of you (like me!) who don’t know exactly what that entails, here’s the day, in words and pictures.
Pagan wedding ceremonies are called handfastings and mark the coming together of two people in a formal, loving and equal sexual partnership.
Pagans take the swearing of oaths very seriously indeed and believe it important that they articulate the sincere, considered intentions of the individuals concerned rather than merely repeating a standard formula.
Accordingly, the vows a couple will swear to each other before their Gods and Goddesses during a handfasting will be carefully discussed and decided upon by them beforehand, in consultation with the Priestess and/or Priest who will officiate at the ceremony.
A couple may choose to handfast for the traditional period of a year and a day, and it is not uncommon for Pagans in long-term relationships to renew their vows after each year and a day has passed so that neither comes to take the other for granted. Others vow to handfast for life while a few, in accordance with Pagan beliefs in reincarnation, do so for all their future lives as well.
As with all other Pagan ceremonies, there is considerable variation in the precise form an individual handfasting rite will take, but some parts are all but universal.
The ceremony will be held out of doors if at all possible, and will begin with the marking out of sacred space (usually in the form of a circle), the honouring of the Four Elements, and a welcome for all who are present.
The Gods and Goddesses will be called upon to bless the future life of the couple. The couples’ right hands will be bound together (hence ‘handfasting’), they will swear the oaths that will henceforth define their relationship, and their hands will then be unbound in token that they remain together of their own free will.
Rings will be exchanged and the ceremony will conclude with ‘jumping the broomstick’ – the couple leaping hand in hand over a broom held horizontally before them, thus crossing the symbolic boundary between their old lives and their new, shared, one.
As with most Pagan rituals, a handfasting will be followed by feasting and celebration by the company. (text courtesy of the BBC)
Due to a friend experiencing car troubles on the way from Luton to Glastonbury, I became part of the ceremony by being asked to recite one of the four readings Suzie & Simon had chosen. It was an honour, albeit an unexpected one to be able to help out.
Luckily our friend with automobile woes managed to get them sorted out and joined us for the later part of the day.
After the ceremony we walked a short distance to the Hawthorns Hotel & Bar in Glastonbury This is actually Suzie & Simons local watering hole and after sampling the most amazing home cooked curries that had been laid on for us guests, we chilled and chatted until the early evening. Simon then took to the stage as the first performer of the ‘Open Mic’ session that had been planned for that night. Check out their regular events here.
The ceremony certainly veered from the traditional type of union that most of us may be familiar with, but the sentiment and meaning of the ceremony was the same. Two gorgeous people declaring their love and commitment for one another in the company of their family and friends. What more could you wish for?
A gorgeous stunning day and it was an honour and a pleasure to be there to celebrate.
Congratulations guys, may your cup overfloweth! And if this isn’t the happiest bride on the planet, I don’t know who is!
Love, jumping the broomstick and bubbles!
Photography credits to Brian Mitchell, Paul and Jackie Cook!