In spite of the direction that our world has been churning towards, weddings are still happening all over the world at a constant pace. Since so much has changed in our daily lives, why not try a non-traditional wedding ceremony, like a Pagan wedding ceremony? Most wedding ceremonies tend to be strictly traditional. However, there are ways to have unique wedding ceremonies that might seem new and exciting.
The wedding ceremony that you will soon learn more about can seem new but is quite old; ancient. However, despite how old it may be, it is certainly exciting. Most people may be unfamiliar with Paganism and how their wedding ceremony traditions go, but we have got you covered on everything you need to know!
What is Paganism?
Paganism is an ancient religion that exists not only in the present age, but it has also existed and has been practiced in ancient Greece, Persia, Rome, and more. It is a religion with a focus on nature and feminine divinity. This is a stark contrast with other religions, such as Christianity and Islam, which see the concept of goddesses as being wrong, and are not being accepted by other deities, whereas Pagans recognize them. Despite this contrast, there are certain elements that were developed in a pagan wedding ceremony that was passed down to other religious wedding ceremonies, such as the concept of the rings, and the bridal veil.
What might be the most exciting thing that many people may not know about, is the recognition and acceptance of the practice of magic. This was especially prominent in ancient times, as people would be known as magical healers, animal-whisperers, or other such titles or professions. Although it is important to note that magic used for evil or selfish gain is strictly forbidden.
A stereotypical view that Paganism is purely about witchcraft or is evil is simply incorrect. Although there are certain Wiccan rituals that do follow aspects of witchcraft and magic, that is not what paganism is entirely about. Paganism is the acceptance of life and therefore is respectful of differing religions and views, making it one of the most tolerant religions.
Components of a Pagan Wedding Ceremony
As said previously, divinity and nature are important components in Paganism. They both go hand in hand, in the sense that both are present all around. They channel their love for the planet through activities such as meditating over the ground. Their divination goes hand in hand with the magical aspects, which can be channeled through tarot cards*, amulets*, runes*, or other spiritual devices. Love for the present, the Earth, and being attuned with spirituality are core fundamentals of Paganism.
An Alluring Kind of Wedding Ceremony
Given the brief overview of Paganism above, the question of why someone would want to have a Pagan wedding ceremony becomes a lot more clear. Which is the potential for an exciting wedding with new elements that you may never have even thought of. In addition, the prospect of saving money, especially during these uncertain times, becomes more alluring. An entire traditional wedding ceremony at a church would be significantly more expensive.
There is also the option of making the ceremony legal or not. Many people may opt for a more spiritual bonding instead, rather than a legal one. There may also be a strong allure for the fact that there are no restrictions on gender or sexuality, which is an enticing prospect in the modern age. Seemingly not as prominent as it was in ancient times, modern Paganism exists to this day.
Neo-Paganism is said to be a lot less strict, and with an even wider emphasis on the acceptance of life, and the respecting of other people and religions; these are strong values in the current century, that few would disagree with; the notions of a Pagan wedding ceremony, therefore, is a very attractive event! As a matter of fact, the word neo-pagan itself originates the pre-Christian times in the northern and western parts of Europe. A great example of a Neo-Paganism ceremony is an Asatru wedding ceremony. Now, after this brief lesson on what Paganism is, we can move on to what a Pagan wedding ceremony entails.
Preforming a Pagan Wedding Ceremony
To begin: it has been called a “Pagan wedding ceremony” but the way they tie the knot is through a traditional pagan ritual called handfasting. The handfasting ceremony has existed not only in ancient times but also a few centuries ago in England. Handfasting has resurfaced more recently, being conducted by Pagans and Wiccan couples. Handfasting is what you might have imagined from the name alone; it is the sacred bonding of hands between the couple whether it be bride and groom, bride and bride, or groom and groom. Either way, this ceremony signifies a bond between the two. Included in the binding ceremony are colorful cords*, with each color symbolizing different virtues. Orange, for example, can act as a symbol of encouragement, blue can act as a symbol of loyalty and patience, and red can act as a symbol of strength. There are more ways than colors can be seen.
As mentioned previously, the option of having a legal entity or not is there, depending on whether it is preferred for the ceremony to be more legal or spiritual. Either way, it is encouraged that there be a wedding officiant that is willing to follow the handfasting ceremony script guide which includes the pagan blessings, and the readings. This must be done in order for the ceremony to be conducted in a proper manner.
It is also not uncommon for there to be two handfasting ceremonies. The second ceremony would be held a year later; that is if the couple still feels strongly about each other for that full-year duration. This second ceremony would be the final one, and it would mark an eternal bonding between the two souls.
Rich in Pagan Tradition
The second notable tradition in a Pagan wedding ceremony is to jump over a besom broom together! To be clear, this is not strictly done in Pagan weddings; there is a history of African Americans undergoing the same ceremony, especially in the past, when religious marriages for them were not legal. The jumping signifies a crossover from a standard relationship to a more serious one, where the couple are finally betrothed, and essentially “husband and wife.” This highlights the strong spiritual aspect of a Pagan wedding ceremony. It is a tradition that was performed centuries ago, and it is still performed even to this day.
Pagan wedding ceremonies are certainly widely flexible from the rituals being practiced down to the way you and others may dress! The two traditions previously discussed are the two most primary, noticeable ones. It cannot be overstated enough about the openness of Paganism. It is said that no two Pagans follow their faith in the exact same way, for instance. This same philosophy can apply to a Pagan wedding ceremony as well.
There is much customization potential and is well suited for those that do not wish to adhere to a strict, traditional ceremony. Strict ceremonies are much harder to manage, and quite costly once everything adds up. If you look at comparisons between a Pagan wedding ceremony and a traditional wedding ceremony, you can see some overlap. However, the prime difference is how simple and flexible pagan weddings are compared to traditional ones as mentioned before.
You could include the idea of having goddesses to be honored or choose not to. Songs and poetry can still be traditional as well, and handfasting vows can be written and recited as you please. Locations are quite flexible too, as you can choose anywhere outdoors, but may opt for more scenic locations such as those of the botanical variety.
Keep in mind that these traditions have alterations based on the origin; there are Celtic variations of Paganism, which is said to have been the origin of handfasting, and there is also the Hellenic variation of Paganism, as well as others.
An Important Thing To Note Before Having A Pagan Ceremony
This type of ceremony does not always mean that the marriage is legally binding. Although this was stated earlier in the article it cannot be stressed enough. If this is the way that you and your spouse wish to have it, then the decision is yours. But if you want to have a legal marriage license, then this is something that you and your spouse should consider discussing, in order to get the legal clerk involved either before, after or during the ceremony.
Although it is a Pagan wedding ceremony, such ceremonies are not exclusives for Pagans alone. Most of them would be thrilled to assist in planning them for non-Pagans. Again, consider the costs of a traditional wedding versus a Pagan wedding, especially during these very uncertain times. Lastly, if you are still wondering why you ought to have a Pagan wedding ceremony, consider that there are many people that are not attuned to Christianity, or Catholicism, or any other religion, and would therefore possibly not feel comfortable having a traditional wedding ceremony in a church for that reason.
With COVID-19 still being a factor in our day to day life, the prospect of an outdoor wedding ceremony with nature grows in appeal. It would be a lot easier to maintain social distance from attendees in contrast with a crammed indoors building for a more traditional wedding ceremony. There is a multitude of options and configurations for a Pagan wedding ceremony. Recall from the beginning that in Paganism, there is an emphasis on openness and acceptance. You could most certainly tailor a Pagan wedding ceremony specifically for you and your loved one. Be sure to check out our wedding budget and checklist as well as our resources on flowers for wedding ceremonies, wedding ceremony ideas, vows and speeches, and other various wedding ideas.
Disclaimer: We partner with various affiliate sites, like Amazon, from time to time to assist our users in planning their events more quickly. If purchases are made, we receive a small commission.
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Written by Jan Rojas