REAL WEDDINGS: A magical sunrise Pagan handfasting at ancient Stonehenge | Jacky and Paul
13th May 2016
Stormy winter skys, Neolithic standing stones, Pagan rituals, dwarfs, mist, magic and mystery. All these elements went towards this stunningly dramatic Pagan wedding on Salisbury plains last December. Organised by Pagan Wedding Planners and with photos by Nikos, Jacky and Paul’s wedding really is a one off. Over to Jacky for all the sumptuous details …
Our wedding ceremony was held at sunrise by the magic circle of Stonehenge. Later we had an evening reception at The Antrobus Arms in Avebury just two miles away.
We had about 100 guests and they came from fairly local areas such as Portsmouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Birmingham and London and right here in Somerset, on our own lovely doorstep. But we also had guests who journeyed from as far afield as Belgium, Amsterdam and France. One intrepid couple even travelled all the way from Thailand to be with us on our special day.
We had a budget of £10,000 and we’re proud to say that we only overran it slightly as I had an insistence on not one, or two, but FOUR DWARVES who do not come cheap! In the end we only had three as one got lost and didn’t show up, but as they were so bouncy and exuberant, they almost seemed like four, so that was okay.
We had a special vision for the day, and hired wedding planners to magic our dream so that we could actually enjoy the preparations and the day without the stress that usually accompanies such big events. We knew it would cost a bit but, looking back, we wouldn’t change a single thing.
From the early stages of planning we had a dream of the perfect day, starting with a small early morning ceremony at the Stones full of mist, magic and mystery and ending with a large gathering of all our friends and family, from far and wide.
A magical party with all the usual good things to eat and drink, but with a twist of dwarves serving mead, fire performers in the gardens, a tarot and rune reader to tell the guests fortunes and a harpist to play us all in to dinner in the grand marquee.
It was a difficult dream to transfer into reality so we hired local wedding planners Jacqui Winn and Emma George from Pagan Wedding Planners and they really brought our dream wedding to life.
We chose to have an intimate early morning ceremony among the stones at Stonehenge. We wanted to tap back into the medieval, from where the handfasting ceremony actually originates. As we had a mixture of Pagans, humanists, non-conformists, Catholics, Christians, Athiests and Agnostics of all ages present we wanted to appeal to all, still staying true to our Pagan roots but without frightening anybody off.
For the ceremony at Stonehenge, Paul wore a black, steampunk style suit, black slim fitting trousers with black ribbon ties all the way up both sides. He teamed that with a white shirt with black leather straps across the chest and collar tips to match, and a long tailed suit jacket in a tapestry fabric. He carried a staff which was wound around with holly berries and ivy.
For the evening Paul achieved a different, more dramatic look by wearing a frilly renaissance style shirt and swapping the jacket for a black low cut waistcoat, all finished off with a top hat.
I wore a beautiful Cinderella style gown in raw cream silk with a fitted bodice and full skirts. For the ceremony in the morning I wore an ice blue cloak over my wedding dress, I had short cut white blonde hair topped with a flower crown of ivy and holly berries and natural make up.
I wanted a more dramatic look for the evening party so we added more skirts to the dress, swapped my hair to a long red and I wore more striking make up.
We started the evening with ‘The Ceremony of Cake and Ale’ when we cut the wedding cake while the dwarves served everybody with mead and Prosecco. Then we toasted our guests, all eating and dranking together, with the blessing ‘May you never hunger and may you never thirst’.
We had a popcorn machine and a candy floss maker on the go to fill any gaps before we all went through to the beautifully decorated marquee for a three course meal of goats cheese, chicken and vegetables gorgeously presented and hungrily devoured by all.
The Eco Elements
Our wedding rings were made by a family member who is, luckily, a skilled jeweller. He crafted our rings from recycled stones and metal.
We used biodegradable paper for our invitations and thank you cards.
We used our headdresses for the top table centre pieces and later brought them home for Christmas decorations. Our talented wedding planners decorated the rest of the venue with mistletoe and holly that they foraged for and gathered themselves, arranging it all so beautifully that no-one would ever guess that they didn’t come from an expensive florist!
Our food was all locally sourced by the hotel, the mead brewed by a local family and the guests themselves decorated the venue by just looking so wonderful. We really didn’t need anything else.
We made sure that Paul’s wedding suit was appropriate to be worn again and again at other functions and occasions, there are so many different looks that can be created from the suit.
My dress will be donated to a charity called Cherished Gowns who will use it to make ‘angel outfits’ for stillborn babies to wear as their last outfits on this earth.
We hired local people for all the elements of our event, supporting our local community and our brilliant photographer Nikos, who captured our whole day so perfectly, sent us all the pictures electronically so we could share them all with all our guests without printing.
Can you be Stylish AND Green?
You can have the wedding that you want with all the elements which make up your perfect day without compromising on style at all. Just by making a few intelligent decisions you can keep the love you are celebrating for each other going round and round encompassing the earth and all that’s in it.
As a Pagan couple, our belief and the lifestyle we have chosen to follow is to always tread lightly upon the earth so, by default, one could call our wedding ‘eco’. We are inspired by a simple desire to preserve our beautiful planet so that our descendants can enjoy it as much as we do today.
Tips for Brides Planning to throw a Green Wedding
Just putting a little extra thought into all the elements that make up your perfect day can save money as well as decrease the impact on our environment. Making things yourself can be fun and getting together with others to make things for your wedding can be even more fun. Making things which you can use again is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, every time, for years to come.
People who had brutally austere weddings in wartime are no less happy than the people who throw thousands of pounds at just one day, some would argue that they were happier since they saw the wedding as the beginning of the important thing, not the important thing on its own. Wise words Jacky!
Top Tip from the Groom
Do not allow your wife to have any more than TWO dwarves...
We were all standing within the Stones, our most beloved friends and family forming a sacred circle. The ceremony began with Paul and I, each behind a standing stone to the right and the left of the circle. We could see each other but the circle could not yet see us. The sun was rising, the winds were howling and we played, Paul and I. Blowing kisses to each other, making faces, bowing and curtseying and playing in the moment before we were called into the circle to be married. And it was beautiful…
Huge thanks to Jacky and Paul for letting me feature their wonderful pagan hand fasting - it is very enlightening. And thanks too, to Nikos for sharing such stunning photos of the wedding.
Celebrant: Pagan Wedding Planners
Wedding Organisers: Avalon Event Planners
Venues: Stonehenge and The Antrobus Arms in Avebury
Photography: Nikos Wedding Photography
You may be wondering what a Pagan handfasting really is? Jaqui & Emma of Pagan Wedding Planners explain …
Most often a Handfasting will be held outside, in as natural a setting as possible, amongst nature and the elements. Handfastings are a time of joyous revelry and magical merriment. The ceremony is presided over by celebrants who adhere to Pagan or Earth based traditions believing in the forces of Nature and the Universe. During this ancient rite, hands are bound together with cord. This is the actual “Handfasting” and the cord signifies their love while the knot, the gentle binding of their mutual commitment - hence the saying “tying the knot”. Rings are exchanged, along with promises of love, and the whole rite is viewed as a sacred act between the two.
Handfasting is a beautiful marriage ritual based on ancient Celtic tradition
At the end of the ceremony the happy couple jump the broomstick which is a symbol of their joining together and crossing a threshold from one life into a new one. Food and wine are then shared with the guests to celebrate this wonderful occasion. A Handfasting is a truly beautiful and moving ceremony to behold and guests will take away with them a sense of times past and true romance.
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