Every bride, Pagan or not, is nervous ... I was no exception.
There were all of the usual reasons, of course. Would everything go well? Would
everyone have a good time? Would the food be okay?
But being a Pagan, with a non-Pagan family, non-Pagan inlaws, and some
non-Pagan friends, I had additional concerns:
Would everyone get along? Would the non-Pagans be comfortable attending a
blatantly Pagan ritual? Would they understand the significance of what we were
doing, or attempting to do? Would they run screaming into the night? LOL
I can laugh about it now. It's probably better if you don't ask Oak how I behaved
the last week or so before the trip.
There were clashes, and tears, and serious second thoughts about the whole thing.
That was just me with myself *grin* ... I argued with my mom, spent hours
explaining the ritual to non-Pagans (no, there will be no entrails on the altar, and
yes, Oak and I plan to wear clothes ... we don't care what you do!), and in general
wore myself out. It's no wonder that one night, when Oak said "do what you want,
it's your handfasting," that I burst into tears over the kitchen sink. Yes, I know he
did not mean it the way it sounded, and yes, he was sorry and apologized
profusely, and yes, at that point I was utterly miserable and ready to call the whole
thing off. This was a week before the event.
I can honestly say now that I am glad that I did not back out, and that Oak was
willing to put it up with me. I can even make laugh about the pre-handfasting
suggestions, from both Oak and my mom, about serving moonpies and RC cola at
the reception, while guests sat on haybales.
So, by now you're probably asking, what did the bride (me, naturally) wear? Well,
I was bound and determined I would not wear white! Besides just wanting to break
tradition *grin,* I look like death-warmed-over in white. Somehow, the thought of
a whole day with people snapping pictures of me was bad enough; I did not want to
look like a ghost in all of them!
So, instead, I wore a gown of amber-colored panne velvet. Now there is an old
wedding tradition that claims it is unlucky for the bride to sew her own gown. Well,
it said nothing about the groom sewing it! So my robe came courtesy of my beloved
Okay, I thought, that takes care of something new. Something old was the cake
topper ... it was the one that was used on the wedding cake for my parents, some
43 years ago. The topper was very simple (in keeping with my wishes), but it
meant a lot for me to be able to use it. When I broke the news to my parents about
our engagement, one of the first things my mom asked was: "how can we help
you?" My first request was for that cake topper. It made a special day even more
special for me.
Something blue ... hmmm, a toughie, since I'm not a huge fan of blue. But I began
thinking of the meaning behind it ... "blue" was a color associated with the Virgin
Mary in the Catholic church, so I substituted green instead, for the Lady. Okay,
three down and one to go.
I did not find my "something borrowed" until minutes before the ritual, but it turned
out to be one of the most precious gifts of all. I was having problems with my veil
(peach-colored lace, for the curious) ... despite all of the bobby pins I used, it was
still so heavy it was sliding off of my head.
A friend of mine, an HPS out of Houston, came over to help calm me down, as
one again I was nearly in tears. She asked if I had something borrowed and, when I
said no, her reply was simply "now you do." She reached up and took off the
moonstone pendant she wore on her forehead, and used it to anchor my veil. That
simple cord and pendant held the lace in place like no amount of bobby pins ever
I was shocked, and moved beyond words by her simple gesture. Her tradition is
very "old school," and she does not normally allow her ritual items to be handled,
much less loaned out. For her to allow me to wear her HPS head pendant meant so
much to me that I cannot begin to describe my feelings. All I can offer her is my
On to the ceremony. Such beautiful words, labored over for many hours. I don't
think I heard a single one. The only words that really registered with me were Oak's
vows, especially when he made his personal ones. You better believe that I will
hold him to his promise to "always put the seat down" *wicked grin*!
I was still a little nervous after the ritual. But as I moved from table to table,
hugging friends and family, I kept hearing time and time again how "beautiful and
personal" our ceremony was. Understand that these comments were coming from
the non-Pagans ... the very people whom I was afraid would not understand the
significance. Not only did they understand; they were moved by the ritual, and
were not afraid to say so. This meant more to me than even the compliments by
fellow Pagans. To be able to reach out to someone who, in essence, speaks a
different "spiritual language" than you do, and to be able to touch their hearts and
souls and minds ... that is a true gift from the Lady and Lord.
And all religious barriers were down by the time the reception started. Pagans and
non-Pagans alike were mingling together, eating, talking, laughing and carrying on.
Perhaps this the true magick of a handfasting or wedding: the ability to bring people
together, from all Paths and all walks of life, for one simple common denominator
... their feelings for the people being joined together. Such an important event
transcends the normal differences we cope with every day. This is what makes
magick; this is love which spreads from two people to encompass a whole group.
So were all my worries for nothing? Of course not! *lol.* I'm am still a Southerner,
born and bred, and it is important to me that my guests have a good time, and get
along. In fact, I can say that the only disappointment was that we could not get
more people to dance at the reception. Of course, the fact that "our song" was
Dixie Chicken could not have had any influence on that. *rolling eyes and
I think that all-in-all, in most ways, handfasting and conventional weddings are not
that different. Each is both a religious and a social occasion. Each offer an
opportunity for the couple to make meaningful vows to each other. Each serves as
a chance for people from all types of backgrounds to join together for one common
And I would venture to say that in each case the bride, be she Pagan or Christian,
feels like throwing up right before the ceremony!
Amberflame ~ 4/14/99
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