How to Perform a Wiccan Wedding
A Wiccan wedding is known as a Handfasting Ceremony. Handfasting is the ancient Scottish custom of tying a betrothed couple’s hands together and keeping them that way for a year. If they were still together at the end of that year, they would then be officially married.
Although based on timeless and powerful ritual, a Wiccan Wedding or Handfasting is not accepted as a legal marriage in some countries. In those places, couples should also perform a short legal ceremony. There are several traditions that usually accompany a Handfasting but, as the rite is extremely personal for each couple, there is also a great deal of flexibility regarding which rituals will be included in each individual ceremony. Wiccan Weddings are usually presided over by a priest and a priestess, whose job is to implement the rituals.
A Wiccan Wedding can be held at any time of the year although certain feast days, like Litha (the Summer Solstice) or Beltane (Mayday), are considered most popular as the weather is good. Weather is an important factor for a Handfasting as most ceremonies are held outside. The bride and groom need not dress in any particular outfits but certain choices are seen more often than others including long, light colored dresses for the bride and either traditional dress, if applicable, or an embroidered shirt and pants, or kilt, for the groom.
A circle is cast before the Wiccan Wedding ceremony begins and the presiding priestess walks the boundaries of the circle and marks it with a ritual knife, the athame, while calling on the four elements and the God and Goddess to bless both the circle and the ceremony. The couple moves to before the altar, with the bride to the groom’s right, and the bride’s left hand is tied to the groom’s right hand with the traditional red Handfasting cord. This cord will be given to the couple after they are married and will serve to remind them of their everlasting passion for each other.
The priest and priestess then assist the couple with the exchange of vows, often reciting their vows for them, and it is at this point that the bride and groom usually exchange rings, which are placed on the bride and groom’s left ring fingers. The Element Quest is then performed with the couple invoking each of the elements in turn – air, fire, water and earth and beginning with air in the east – to bless their union. After the quest has been completed, the priest and priestess call upon the presiding deities to bless the Wiccan Wedding ceremony.
At this point in the Wiccan Wedding ceremony, the couple is required to jump over the ceremonial broomstick and this can be quite an amusing sight as the couple holding the broomstick is free to adjust the broomstick’s height while the bride and groom, who are still tied together, are jumping. Wine and small cakes are then blessed and shared by the couple and their guests and, after the officiating powers and the elements have been thanked, the priest and priestess formally open the circle by what is known as reverse casting.
At this point in some Handfastings, the new husband and wife give small gifts to their guests to thank them for sharing their most important day with them. The parties then move on to the wedding feast, at which it is traditional to serve organic and natural foods.
Wiccan Handfasting is a magical and enchanting ceremony and, by choosing to go with a non-traditional wedding, a couple is only showing how strong their commitment to each other and to their belief system actually is.