This is the script of the first Pagan handfasting/marriage I priestessed back in the ’90s. The bride and groom were Pagan but were not out to their families. They wrote the ceremony to meet their spiritual needs without giving anything away and they told everyone I was a minister rather than a priestess. I like to think this kind of subterfuge is no longer necessary but I’m not that naive. Anyway, I think they did an absolutely lovely job. It’s actually one of the proudest moments of my life, standing at the altar in Beck Chapel, in a role that I would’ve gotten burned at the stake for in years past.
15 minutes of seating music. (Organist plays Bach Preludes and Trio Sonatas)
Cairril Adaire (CA) and D (groom) enter from behind the altar. D puts rings on the altar.
Attendants enter in pairs. (Organist plays overture to Handel’s Water Music Suite.)
C (bride) enters. C walks down the aisle with father, hugging him at the pew before walking on to the altar in the front. (Water Music Overture should still be playing.)
CA: Friends and family, we have come here this evening to witness a new beginning to C and D’s life together. This wedding should remind us that, like the seasons, life moves in cycles.
While the first flowers of spring are gorgeous to behold, compellingly sweet to the senses, we know that it takes several seasons, much tender care, and the weathering of many storms for the fruit of those flowers to grow and ripen. Similarly, it takes time for love to mature and reach completion.
To be in a loving relationship does not guarantee an eternal summer. To make a sincere and honest commitment does not promise an end to all struggle. What a good relationship does is offer the never ending opportunity for renewal. It recognizes the abiding, shared hope that after every winter, spring will come again.
In marriage, we make a commitment to weather patiently the cold and bitter times, to protect and tend the original seed until it bursts into bloom again.
We are here to celebrate beginnings, and to acknowledge that love, as anything else that we wish to grow and prosper, requires care and nurture.
D, if you would ask C to be your wife, speak to her and those assembled of your love, that she, and they, may know what is in your heart.
D: C, the love I feel for you shows itself in all I do. In perfect love and perfect trust, I open myself to you. No longer just the product of my own experiences, I now allow the image of who I am to shape who I become. From this day, what one of us does will affect both of us. We are still two independent beings, with our own wills, our own dreams, our own interests, but in the larger scheme of things, I bind my destiny to yours with three promises: I love you, I trust you, and I honor your freedom. Everything else may change, but love, trust, and freedom will remain.
CA: C, if you would ask D to be your husband, speak to him and those assembled of your love, that he, and they, may know what is in your heart.
C: D, I promise to be your wife, which is many things, like friend and companion, but is certainly not all things. I promise to remember that while marriage is perfect, the people in it are not and to be as patient with you as you are patient with me. And I promise that I will abide with you and be your love to the end of our days together, whatever life may bring us until then.
Unity candle: C gets a taper from the altar and lights it on the candelabra. D follows suit. When both have lit tapers, they light the unity candle together. Both place their lit tapers back on the altar. (Organist plays Corelli)
D (pick up ring): With this ring, I offer myself to you as husband, with all my faults, and all my strengths. Will you accept me as your partner in all the future may bring?
C: I will. (D places ring on C’s finger.)
C (pick up ring): With this ring, I offer myself to you as wife, with all my faults, and all my strengths. Will you accept me as your partner in all the future may bring?
D: I will. (C places ring on D’s finger.)
CA: Before all who are assembled here, C and D have freely pledged themselves to one another. May the powers of creation grant their minds the clarity of wisdom, their souls the strength of will, their hearts the depth of feeling, and the bodies the wellspring of health to walk life’s path together as husband and wife.
The veil: D lifts C’s veil and gives her a big sloppy-wet moose kiss.
CA: Go forth in peace, carrying the joy of this day in your hearts.
Recessional. (Organist plays selection from Handel’s Water Music Suite.)