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Pagan Wedding Ceremonies
Tim Manger
Civil Marriage Celebrant

Origins of the Pagan Custom

The domination of the Catholic church in early AD times, saw mainly city and urban areas influenced by it's doctrine. What is interesting, is that the Catholic church's reach had less effect on people living in rural and farm areas.

The people in these areas came to be known as 'Pagans' (after the latin word 'peganus' - meaning 'rural or 'of the country'].

As a result of the reduced influence of Catholicism on these villages living in rural communities, 'Pagans' became synonymous with 'heathens' or people who did not follow the doctrines of the Catholic church.

Pagans Weddings

'Pagans' were often simple villagers and farmers, with little need for all the pomp and hype of the urban Catholic style wedding ceremonies. Whilst they believed in marriage (as the unification of two people), they took an entirely different approach to the church.

The most notable (and obvious) of these approaches, was that marriage ceremonies were conducted mostly outdoors (ie; on a farm, in a forest or wood etc.)

The second and most obvious difference between 'Pagan' and Catholic church weddings, was the ritual known as the tying of the hands (usually with ribbons or cloth), and the uttering of secular (non-religious) vows.

It would be fair to argue, that due to the secular nature of rural ceremonies, the Catholic church was against 'Pagan' style marriages.

The Modern Pagan Wedding Ceremony

Modern Pagan ceremonies are perfect for secular Civil Marriage Celebrants, because they do not involve any connection with religion, the Catholic church, or denominational doctrine.

Ceremonies are mostly held outdoors and may involve earthy ornamentations and flourishes, in order to underpin and symbolise the couple's Pagan beliefs. Items such as entwined vines, trees, thorny headpieces, and wooden jewellery may be used to symbolise Paganism, whilst the bride may choose to wear a simple gown and arrive at the ceremony either on-foot or on horseback.

Music for the ceremony can be played by a minstrel on a lute, guitar, flute, recorder or harp (if desired), whilst the wording for the entire ceremony is centred around the 'Pagan' tradition of handfasting (using a series of coloured ribbons or cloth).

Guests often stand in an impromptu formation (sometimes forming a circle around the bride and groom). Often there is no bridal party, whist the groom would wear something ('of the country) in fashion.

The Marriage Celebrant would solemnise the wedding by adhering to the accepted wording of the 'Pagan' handfasting ritual, whilst at the same time performing the physical draping and tying of the ribbons. The couple are required to hold hands during the entire ceremony, and respond to any (non-legal) questions using the 'Pagan' wording, creating a ceremony that is both unique, and of great spectacle to the uninitiated.

Pagan Handfasting Ceremony


__________________, since your lives have crossed, you have formed ties between each other. The promises you make today, and the ties that are bound-here, will cross the years and greatly strengthen your union

With full awareness, know that you declare your intent to be handfasted before your friends and family

Do you both still seek to enter this ceremony? [Answer: Yes]

__________________, these cords are a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. Up until this moment, you have been separate in thought, word and action

As your hands are bound together by these cords, so too shall your lives be bound as one

1) The First Ribbon - 'White' (Representing the Pure Spirit)

__________________, will you honour him? [Answer: I Will]

__________________, will you honour her? [Answer: I Will]

Will you seek never to give cause to break that honour? [Answer: Yes]

And so the binding is made. Join your hands
(The first ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

2) The Second Ribbon - 'Green' (Representing Peace)

__________________, might you ever cause her anger? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

__________________, might you ever cause him anger? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

Will you together take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union? [Answer: Yes]

And so the binding is made
(The second ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

3) The Third Ribbon - 'Blue' (Representing Patience)

__________________, might you ever burden her? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

__________________, might you ever burden him? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

Will you share the burdens of each, so that your spirits may grow in this union?

And so the binding is made
(The third ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

4) The Fourth Ribbon - 'Silver' (Representing Rebirth)

__________________, will you share her dreams? [Answer: I Will]

__________________, will you share his dreams? [Answer: I Will]

Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes? [Answer: Yes]

And so the binding is made
(The fourth ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

5) The Fifth Ribbon - Black (Representing Protection)

__________________, might you ever cause her pain? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

__________________, might you ever cause him pain? Is that your intent? [Answer: I Might]

Is that your intent? [Answer: No]

Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it? [Answer: Yes]

And so the binding is made
(The fifth ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

6) The Sixth Ribbon - 'Yellow' (Representing Joy)

__________________, will you share her laughter? [Answer: I Will]

__________________, will you share his laughter? [Answer: I Will]

Will both of you look for the brightness in life, and the positive in each other? [Answer: Yes]

And so the binding is made
(The sixth ribbon is draped across the couple's hands)

Tying of the Ribbons

Just as your hands are now bound together, so too, are your lives
(All the ribbons are tied together and the couple's hands are bound)

The knots of this binding are not formed by these chords, but instead by your vows. Either of you may drop these chords for (as always), you hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union

Removal of the Ribbons

(The Handfasting Ribbons are removed (without untying them), and then placed at a pre-selected point for the remainder of the ceremony)

Ask Tim a Question
Question Answer

What is the Pagan Handfasting Ritual?

Related to Rituals

Derived from the Pagan tradition, Handfasting is where the bride and groom drape a ribbon of their choice, material and colour across their hands during the marriage ceremony.

Highly Relevant Answer

Rituals Symbols Rituals Symbols
What is the Pagan Handfasting Ritual? What is the Pagan Handfasting Ritual?

What is a Pagan Marriage Ceremony?

Related to Ceremony

Pagan (derived from the Latin word 'paganus'), meaning 'villager', or 'of the country', provides the basis for marriage ceremonies that are generally accepted as being 'not of the church' or any particular religion. The full Pagan ceremony involves the exchange of vows, based on 6 coloured ribbons (the ribbons symbolise the virtues and beliefs of the 'Pagan' couple). After all the ribbons have been draped over the couple's hands, they are tied, then eventually removed and placed somewhere significant for the remainder of the ceremony.

Highly Relevant Answer

Pagan Wedding Ceremonies Pagan Wedding Ceremonies
What is a Pagan Marriage Ceremony? What is a Pagan Marriage Ceremony?

What sort of couples choose to do a Pagan Wedding Ceremony?

Related to Ceremony

The type of couple most likely to perform a Pagan style wedding ceremony, are couples who are 'rural' in their virtues and beliefs (ie; 'of the land'). Also, couples who are having an outdoor ceremony, generally set in a forest or wood, or on a farm or similar rural environment. In English folklore, Pagan marriage ceremonies are largely associated with the secular (non-religious) villager style ceremonies of the Middle to Dark Ages, often simple in decoration and grandeur, but rich in purpose and meaningful in content.

Highly Relevant Answer

Pagan Wedding Ceremonies Pagan Wedding Ceremonies
What sort of couples choose to do a Pagan Wedding Ceremony? What sort of couples choose to do a Pagan Wedding Ceremony?

Tim P Manger | Celebrant
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