Handfasting Elopement

Chrissy and Shaz were married in the Boranup Forest in an elopement style ceremony which incorporated a special Handfasting ritual with beautiful rainbow ribbons.

When I sat down with Chrissy and Shaz over a cuppa to discuss their ceremony, there were some key things they wanted for their day.  It was to be small, intimate ceremony, and they really wanted to incorporate a Handfasting because the symbolism, and pagan origins of this ritual were important to them.

A traditional Handfasting was originally a betrothal ceremony marked by the tying of cords or ribbons around the couples joined hands to represent their union. It is a ritual commonly used in Celtic and Pagan ceremonies, and now also incorporated in both civil and religious ceremonies in various forms.   Having only watched a full Handfasting ceremony once before, I was excited for the challenge of incorporating this ritual in Chrissy and Shaz’s elopement in the Boranup Forest in a way that would be meaningful and unique to them.

There are many ways a handfasting can be performed. Some incorporate a single rope that is wrapped and tied around the couples joined hands, and others that incorporate ribbons, or a combination of both, ending with the pulling apart of the hands so the ribbon forms an infinity knot.  My approach with weddings is to always seek to reflect the couples wishes in all aspects of the ceremony, especially with something as personal as an elopement.  So after discussing a few options we settled on incorporating seven coloured ribbons, six of the rainbow colours, and a final gold ribbon to symbolise the sacred union and blessing.    Each colour represented an aspect of life and relationship, and after placing it over their joined hands, a promise was made between them.

After all seven ribbons were placed, they were then wrapped and tied around the joined hands, and I read the poem ‘Blessing of the Hands’.  Chrissy and Shaz then went on to exchange their vows, and the final moment of pulling their hands away and tying the infinity knot was made.

To complete the ceremony they then exchanged rings – a visible symbol of the promises made.  The infinity knot remains tied, and is now a beautiful keepsake for them to remember this day by.

It was such an honour to prepare and officiate this ceremony for Chrissy and Shaz, and to be with them in this special moment.  The ceremony was captured beautifully by Dian Sarah Photography.

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River Stone Ceremony

There is a ritual inspired by Celtic traditions, said to be used by early settlers and convicts in Australia, where instead of exchanging rings, as they were far too expensive, the couple would cast a stone into the river as a symbol of the wedding promises made, ever strong and steady as the river of the water ebbs and flows around them.

Tiffany and Corinne were married in February 2018, in the beautiful natural setting of Nanga Bush Camp in Dwellingup, WA.  The chosen location for their ceremony was in a clearing alongside the Murray River.

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Tiff and Corinne’s Wedding Ceremony – photo by April Loves Arnold

There were many personalised elements to Tiff and Corinne’s ceremony, as they stood together, with their siblings by their side, ready to take the steps to marriage.  And although they were exchanging rings, a river stone ritual seemed like a natural choice for such a location, and was a perfect way to complete their wedding ceremony.

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Stone and Rings – photo by April Loves Arnold

After the main part of the ceremony had taken place, and the couple and witnesses had signed the marriage register, the bridal party made their way across the rocks alongside the water.  Their attendants, Brie and Daniel handed Tiffany and Corinne a special stone each, chosen for the occasion.

Tiffany and Corrine were asked to hold the stones in their hands to warm them, and feel the smooth, solid weight of them, before exchanging stones with each other.  They then turned, and cast them into the river water below, followed by these words of good wishes:

“From this day forward, may your relationship stay strong and solid, as life, like the river, ebbs and flows around you.”

They were then presented for the first time as ‘Mrs and Mrs’ to cheers and applause from friends and family – such a wonderful moment to celebrate!!

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Final Presentation to Family and Friends – Photo by April Loves Arnold

I love helping couples find new ways to express their relationship and personalities, and to include creative elements to their ceremony.  The river stone ritual worked so well in this setting by the Murray River, and could be adapted by to other locations as inspired. There are ideas for other rituals here.

The photos are by the talented Amy of April Loves Arnold. Many thanks to Tiffany and Corinne for sharing these photos, and their fabulous wedding day with me!

Wendy x 

There’s No Place Like Home

After an amazing 20 years together, Tracy and Kim were married in their favorite place – their beautiful home in Rosa Brook, in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia.

The weekend of their wedding day was one of wild storms – heavy rain and wind had been sweeping across the south west for a few days.  Luckily they had a ‘plan B’ in mind so the garden ceremony they had been hoping for was put aside, and the ceremony was set up in their (amazingly) renovated shed.  The room was adorned with fairy lights, candles and streamers, and the centerpiece was the gorgeous arbor made especially for the occasion and positioned to frame the doors which were opened to look out at the surrounding nature.

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Here come the brides! Photo by Kelly Harwood Photography

In the late afternoon, in somewhat perfect timing, the rain and wind stopped and the sun came out ready for Tracy and Kim to make their way together from the house to their wedding ceremony.  It seemed so perfect for them to walk in together and take their place under the arbor.  They had been near-inseparable since they met 20 years ago, so it was natural for them to arrive at such a special day by each others side.

As they stood before close friends and family, I think everyone, including me, shed a few happy tears during their ceremony.  There was so much love in the room. And as the Monitum was read out, that ‘marriage according to law in Australia is the union of two people…’ it was a wonderful reminder that the law had finally caught up to love! What a beautiful thing to celebrate!

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Tracy and Kim exchanging rings – photo by Kelly Harwood Photography

Thank you to Kim and Tracy for allowing me to share some of their story and gorgeous photos.  Wishing them many more years of love and happiness in that beautiful place you call home!

Wendy x

Photos by the talented Kelly Harwood Photography –  https://kellyharwoodphotography.pixieset.com/

See also – Equal Love