Before we give you a history lesson, let us reassure you that you don't have to think of yourself as a "Pagan" to use our service! In our experience, couples expressing a wish to have a marriage ceremony performed by us often don't identify themselves with any named religion, instead many just have an affinity with nature, or consider themselves to be more spiritual than religious, or think of themselves as agnostics - what they do have in common is that they are seeking something with a bit more depth than a civil ceremony with a Registrar, but without wanting to take the route of a conventional church wedding. So, if you are looking for a religious Celebrant in order to enable you to get married in a non-licensed venue, we may be able to help.
Also, our policy is to only ever perform a maximum of one wedding ritual a day - any more and we could not give the ceremonies the attention to detail that we aim to provide.
Please also note that your ritual does not have to include any of the customs described here, it can be as simple as you wish, but, whatever your choice, all our wedding rituals are fully legal if required.
Traditionally, Pagan weddings were, and still are, often called "handfastings", and both Celtic and northern strands of Paganism claim roots for these types of marriage ceremony. The word "handfasting" possibly derives from "hand-festa" which means "to strike a bargain by joining hands", and therefore may not have originally applied exclusively to marriage "agreements". A handfasting ritual often included the practice of the couple grasping each other's hands, sometimes through a stone with a natural hole (as at the Odin Stone, Stenness - sadly no longer standing), and then having their held hands lightly bound. Some traditions state that this should be with a red cord but nowadays the couple can choose the colour(s) of the cords or ribbons they use, perhaps to represent themselves or the "blessings" they wish to bring to the marriage. Alternatively, or in addition, couples can exchange traditional wedding rings.
In the past, couples had a choice about how long their handfasting would last: "a year and a day", "as long as love shall last", "this lifetime", or "all lives to come". The first of these options led to handfastings being known as "trial marriages".
For more information about some of the choices available to you for your wedding, please read our page: Options for today's couples.