“My Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk of all persuasions, welcome to this our sacred circle; standing in the grounds of the mighty Ruthin Castle.”
When Viv and Nikki got in touch to see if I’d be willing to perform their wedding ceremony I thought it couldn’t get much better than an outdoor ceremony planned to take place on the Spring Equinox, in the Stone Circle on the grounds of the beautiful Ruthin Castle, Wales.
Then we met, and the couple told me that in honour of their passion for history and their proposal story (which took place at Ruthin, during a medieval weekend), their wedding day would be a fully themed Medieval Extravaganza; including a feast, a ring-owl and costumes for everyone!
Suffice to say my joy grew to impossible levels! There was a lot of laughter, smiles and giddy excitement shared between us on that day and this joyful energy would remain throughout all the planning and preparation; which was a true reflection of the happiness they found in one another.
Knowing that they would be holding the more restrictive legal ceremony inside the Castle later in the day, Viv and Nikki wanted to ensure that the words they spoke during their outdoor ceremony reflected the intricacies and complexities of their identities; both as individuals and as a couple. They chose to include all the elements of a ‘traditional wedding’ in their outdoor ceremony, including exchanging rings and making vows, alongside the more unusual handfasting and broom leap. They also wanted their family and friends to feel involved and connected; it was very important to mention family members who had passed and to invoke their loving presence as part of the gathering.
As an original way to involve close friends in the ceremony, and as an expression of their exploration into pagan spirituality, we included a ritual for creating a ‘sacred circle‘ which named and invoked the energies of the Four Elements.
On the day, the weather was cool and dry, and the Stone Circle was dressed beautifully with rainbow roses. The two Brides entered together down a long corridor of friends and family, all of whom had fully committed to the theme and arrived in full Medieval dress.
Throughout the ceremony, though the wind tried to steal our voices, there was no risk of losing attention; everyone involved was fully invested in this playful expression of love and commitment.
Watching the guests gasp as a barn owl flew from the nearby woods to land on the outstretched arm of the ring-giver (fully decked out with chainmail and sword!) was a joy! I tapped into my acting/storytelling background, using playful tone and dramatic gesture, to ensure everyone felt confident and comfortable embracing the atmosphere of medieval merriment.
This was one of the most complex weddings I have ever led, in terms of content, scale and location, yet it was also one of the most relaxed to plan out and to perform. Viv and Nikki had a strong vision of day they wanted and gave me lots of ideas to work with. They then trusted me to put them all together in a way that would flow smoothly and carry everyone along for the ride. They had confidence in my ideas for language and tone, and were very open to calling in humour and levity, which allowed everyone present to relax and sink deeper into the whole experience.
Each guest was connected, not just by the circle in which they stood, but by their love for this couple and the unspoken agreement that they would do whatever necessary to build them a magical day to remember!
Leap Into The Future
When Viv and Nikki finally stepped, handfasted, over their beautiful handmade broom, it was to great cheers of celebration! The guests followed them happily out of the circle and back to the castle, where the legal ceremony and finally the merrymaking would continue.
There is nothing quite like a themed wedding and it is a joy and a privilege, as a Celebrant, to do my absolute best to build the reality and atmosphere of any imagined world, whilst also ensuring that the ceremony and all it stands for remains rooted in the truth of who you are and the life you live.