This article will answer all the common questions about Wiccan wedding ceremonies and handfasting. It will then give a script that can be modified to have your own Wiccan wedding ceremony.
Wiccan Wedding Terminology
Before we get to the description of a Wiccan wedding, let’s cover some terminology that could be useful. Remember, many of these terms are co-opted from old Celtic traditions, and so you may or may not want to use them. It is up to you.
What is a Wiccan wedding called?
Most Wiccans use the term handfasting in reference to the wedding ceremony. But handfasting is a traditional practice that can refer to many aspects of a wedding, so this isn’t clear on its own.
It can be:
- An unofficiated wedding where a couple marries without an officiant. This is usually done with the intention of having a second wedding with an officiant.
- A betrothal is an engagement or formal promise to wed which can be broken only through a divorce.
- A temporary wedding, where a couple makes a temporary marriage commitment.
- A legal wedding, where the full wedding is done with a handfasting ceremony.
The reason Wiccan weddings and handfasting ceremonies have so many possibilities is that the ceremony developed in pre-Christian Gaelic traditions before the state-sanctioned Christian form, which is more popular today.
The expression refers to the act of making a vow by shaking or linking hands.
What is a Wiccan handfasting wedding?
In modern days, a Wiccan handfasting wedding is an adaptation of the ancient Celtic ceremony in which two lives are joined together through vows and the ceremonious binding of hands together with ribbons or cords. This is where the term tying the knot comes from.
The ceremony can be atheistic or Pagan. It can involve invocations and spells or be secular. The choice is up to the participants.
What are Wiccan beliefs on marriage?
Wiccans believe in the concept of marriage, but they may approach it differently than some other belief systems.
Wiccans generally believe in the idea of a sacred union between two people, and many Wiccans view marriage as a spiritual partnership as well as a social and legal contract.
Wiccans may also place a strong emphasis on the idea of personal autonomy and the importance of both partners being able to maintain their own identities within the relationship. Wiccans may also view marriage as a way to celebrate their connection to the natural world and to the divine.
Is a Pagan wedding Legal?
This is a surprisingly common question. In the U.S., the answer is: of course Pagan weddings are legal. Marriage licenses are legal contracts given to all couples who complete the paperwork, regardless of the wedding, ceremony, or lack thereof.
Marriage laws vary state-to-state, but these laws only refer to things like the age of consent and how long one must wait to file the paperwork. The legal part of a marriage is separate from the wedding ceremony, and there is no requirement that a ceremony occurs at all.
People can get married in a courthouse on a whim.
Therefore, Pagan weddings are legal as long as the paperwork is completed to the satisfaction of the court.
Preparing for Your Wiccan Wedding
Here’s a checklist for the ceremony given here:
- Wedding garb
- Wiccan altar
- Bowl of saltwater
- Sage smudge stick
- Dried lavender
- A long piece of cloth or cord for binding, usually white.
Usually, you will only involve your coven and/or close friends and family. The choice is yours. The officiant should be comfortable performing Wiccan magick.
If you don’t belong to a coven, you can contact a local coven in order to find out when and where the next Sabbat will be held. If there is no coven in your area, try contacting your state’s Pagan Pride website for information about open rituals.
The ritual can be done outside or inside, but make sure that if you do it outdoors to choose an area that doesn’t have too many trees overhead–you may want to involve the moon, and visibility should be a consideration.
You should wear traditional white wedding garb: gown, veil, flowers, etc.
You’ll need several candles in jars or holders, a bowl of water with floating rose petals in it, a bowl of saltwater in the center for grounding, and several white pillar candles arranged in a circle around you and your partner.
You will also need two small bundles of dried sage (for smudging) and two bundles of dried lavender–which are for your personal power/protection/blessing ritual that I will go over in detail later on.
A coven usually has one person who acts as an “officiant” during rituals. This is usually an elder who knows what to do when things get started, so if you attend Sabbats often enough, ask the high priestess if she would be willing to officiate.
If you are doing this on your own, then it might be a good idea to have someone from the coven or from one of the local Pagan groups stand in as the officiant.
If you plan to complete the legal aspect of the wedding at a later point, this officiant does not need to be legally recognized. If this officiant is completing the legal part of the wedding, then you should make sure they’ve completed whatever certificate is required by your state ahead of time.
A Wiccan Wedding Ceremony Script
Just before midnight (or whenever everyone gets there), light all of the white candles in the circle.
At 12:00 am, light both bundles of dried sage-smudging incense and walk slowly clockwise around yourself and your partner with it while visualizing negative emotions leaving you and filling up the circle so no harm will ever come to you both.
This is your protection/blessing ritual. The officiant may cast whatever protection spell they see fit or you can be satisfied with this.
After you’ve done this, pick up the bowl of salt water and walk around the same way with it, visualizing protecting yourself from negative influences as well as cleansing your body of any toxins.
After that, light the candles in a circle.
Walk sedately to the front of your altar where you have placed two white pillar candles side by side. Stand before them and take a few moments to relax so you can open yourselves up spiritually for your ceremony.
When ready, the officiant says:
“We ask Mother Goddess to bless us on this Sabbat evening, by light of moon, so we may partake in love and joy.”
Hold your arms outstretched to the sides at shoulder height with elbows bent slightly forward. It should look like you are hugging a large beach ball that is between the palms of your hands.
Touch your fingertips together in front of you at chest level. Visualize power flowing into the circle from each end of the altar through your bodies–you will feel it swirling around inside you!
Then imagine it leaving through your fingertips in an invisible beam that joins above the center point between both pillars, forming one wreath-like circle. When you feel you have done this, both parties place your right hand over your left and join hands.
The officiant will place the cloth over your hands and begin the binding spell. The officiant will either select their own or have them use a traditional Scottish infinity knot:
You may exchange vows at this point or you may choose to forego this modern part of the ceremony.
The officiant will then say:
“Your lives are now connected together as this knot is tied.
Wishes for your new life together are woven into this knot.
With the formation of this knot, I bind all of the wishes, hopes, love, and happiness wished here in this location to your life for as long as love endures.
Your lives are now joined together by the joining of hands and the formation of a knot.
May what is done in front of Mother Goddess not be undone by man.
Two people interwoven in love, bonded by commitment and fear, anguish and delight, adversity and victory, all of which adds to the strength of their connection.
Hold on to one another through good and terrible times, and watch as your strength increases.”
This completes the handfasting ceremony. You may wish to end with another blessing or leave it at this simple ceremony.