So the venues are booked.
For some reason up to the point of being engaged (probably because I thought it would never happen!) the legal bit didn't seem very important to me. The notion of legality surrounding such an abstract concept of love always kind of irked me. But my fiance was instant that we had a civil service and in compromise we agreed to have a civil ceremony in the morning and a traditional pagan Hand-Fasting ceremony in the late afternoon after the wedding breakfast and speeches.
I found a lady in Glastonbury (of course) who was recommended by a friend and so we met Georgina Sirret-Armstrong-Smith from Sunflower Healing. We both warmed to her immediately and she was so thoughtful and inquisitive about us, our relationship and what our expectations were we knew we had met the right person to perform this ancient ritual.
For those of you who don't know a hand-Fasting ceremony is how people used to solidify their commitment to each other pre-Christianity and a lot of traditions we now have stem from this ancient ceremony. For example, a honey moon comes from the newly hand-tied couple going into the woods until the next full moon and drinking an alcoholic drink called 'Honey Mead'. Another tradition is the groom lifting the bride over the threshold, this actually stems from the couple jumping a ceremonious broom which sweeps away the past and allows them to enter their future lives together.
The couples friends and family are gathered, ancestors are called into the gathering too and acknowledgement is made of the the four elements and the representation they have in the couples love for each other, for example water washes away the past.
The couple can exchange their own vows and then hold hands in a hoop that is made especially for the occasion and then the Priestess binds the couples hands with ribbon, 'Hand-Fasting'. The guests can then come and tie ribbons on the hoop as a blessing on the couples relationship.
The ceremony takes about an hour. The Priestess Georgina put so much thought and effort into making it special for us. Everyone was emotional and even those who were a bit sceptical about it were full of praise for how special and personal it was.