(aka The Old Fart's Handfasting)




When we got married on July 25, 1983, it wasn't exactly the way I had always envisioned my wedding.

First off, it was in a nursing home, because my fiance's mother and grandmother were both in wheelchairs and it was one of the few places in Fryeburg, Maine that was handicapped accessible in those days.

Second, nothing was the colors I would have chosen, as the official colors were chosen by my mother-in-law to be, who had set up the entire wedding for her daughter.

Third, there was almost no advance notice, for even though my fiance and I had been living together for almost 2 full years, it was only five days prior to the wedding that my sister-in-law to be (Lu) and her fiance offered to pay for our wedding bands if we would get married with them, as we couldn't afford the ceremony ourselves on what we made for wages and my widowed mom certainly couldn't afford to pay for it. (I suspect they decided: "If WE have to suffer, so do YOU!"......*grin*)


So there I was: In a gown I had borrowed from my sister, with safety pin "alterations" down both side seams because she was heavier at the time of her wedding than I was at mine, so the dress was a little too big for me. (I spent the day holding my arms close to my sides to the camera wouldn't catch a gleam from the safety pins, so only those closest to me knew.)

My groom was in a tuxedo of a funky green shade that looked like it may have been better suited for a prom.

Because he was supposed to have been the other groom's best man, we pulled in the friend of Bill's family who had made the wedding cake as a best man.

My mother and siblings were the only ones able to come as our personal guests (those who hadn't been invited to Lu's wedding) on such short notice, but there were plenty of guests in that all the residents of the nursing home were there.

And of course, there was plenty of confusion because no one except the minister and the nursing home officials had been warned that it had suddenly become a double ceremony! (Well, ok, so there were also the officials who had granted us the quickie marriage license - but they didn't come to the wedding......)

The happy couples toasting their marriages





Jump forward now to 2003, when my husband and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary. Bill said "You know, I'd really like to do something special for our 25th anniversary, like a renewal of vows. We could invite the people we would have liked to have had at the first wedding, plus the people we've met since, and really do it up our way."

Several ideas came and went over the next couple of years, including the traditional church wedding, but as I was doing genealogical research off and on, I became more and more interested in doing a "themed" wedding that would have ties to our ancestors. Research shows that both Bill's family and mine had ties to Scotland, where traditional weddings prior to the Roman Catholics were done as a form of mutual consent called "handfasting". Traditionally, a promise was made to be true to each other for one year and a day, and if all worked out well for that time frame, the couple would gather before their families to consent to remain together until death. The vows were sealed by tying the hands together (thereby "tying the knot").

Of course, if things didn't work out in the time alloted, a "handparting" ceremony was done, freeing both parties to chose another mate. In our situation, after all these years with one spouse, neither of us wants to train a new one, so we went for the longest time frame: eternity and a day........

Having fallen in love with the gowns worn in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, I found a pattern for a gown very like one worn by Arwen, which could be worn in a medieval themed ceremony involving a handfasting, and our daughter, who was to be one of the bridesmaids, liked another gown from the same pattern packet. I made all the gowns for the ceremony - green and gold for me with a leaf design in the fabric for the center panel in the front, our daughter in shades of purple satin, and I chose shades of blue satin for my daughter-in-law, the other bridesmaid.

My husband went to a funeral where they had a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace" and the men of the family wore kilts. He decided that he didn't want to wear tights like medieval men would wear, but he'd wear a kilt! I ordered kilts for my husband and son, who was to be the best man, from USA Kilts in Pennsylvania because it would cost less for the ready-made kilts than for the fabric to make them.

When our first choice of a venue at Basin Pond was unavailable due to construction, we tried several other locations. (Basin Pond had initially been chosen because one of the mountains that overlooks it was the site of our first honeymoon, camping just in the edge of the treeline on Baldface. A thunderstorm came through in the middle of the night, and Bill has always said that it's the best way to get your new wife to cling to you....lol.) Fort Knox in Prospect Harbor (resembling a castle) was a second choice, but they were having a Civil War re-enactment that weekend. We decided on Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine, where we were able to rent a shelter in case it happened to rain on the day of the ceremony, but the shelter was very rustic - and very authentic for a medieval ceremony.

The shelter with some costumed characters milling about




Jump forward again to July 26, 2008. We didn't have the ceremony on the exact date of our anniversary because it happened to fall on a Friday, and no one would have been able to come, so we moved it to the nearest Saturday. That Saturday morning dawned clear and bright after several weeks of almost endless rain. A perfect day for the ceremony! We had purchased a lovely cake through the local Hannaford bakery with purple, blue and green decorations to match our dresses.

With help from a co-worker of mine, we had been able to get purple roses to match the ones in my original bouquet from the first wedding, and with some dried flowers that included some blue flowers, we made a lovely bouquet.

Arriving early enough to get the 5 picnic tables under the shelter placed so that they surrounded the space where we wanted to have the ceremony, we set up an "altar" (a small folding table covered by a woven "piano cover" my dad had won at Bingo or some such, and which I had used as a tapestry in my dorm room in college) in the neo-pagan tradition. On the altar, we had a wand with a blue stone to signify the east/wind, a small replica of Excalibur (an anthame) to represent south/fire, a silver goblet with salt water inside to represent west/water, and a small cut glass salt holder filled with sea salt to represent north/earth ("the salt of the earth"...*grin*). These items also doubled for the requirements of another tradition: Something old (the antique salt holder), something new (the anthame), something borrowed (the salt water, which had been collected by our daughter for another purpose), and something blue (the stone in the wand). Our priestess, who also is a justice of the peace, so fully legal to perform the ceremony either way, also brought along a stick of incense to fully satisfy the Celtic traditions that have become incorporated in the Wiccan religion. We were ready to begin, so the priestess settled herself in her proper spot.

Check it out - her robe matches my dress!





Rather than go through all the details of the ceremony, which was very short and sweet, I'll just zip you through it in pictures:

The ceremony began with the best man escourting in his lovely wife and his sister

Then the bride and groom made thier entrance.
(Note that we all had "crib notes", as we didn't have time to memorize our lines....)

While we each spoke lines about love,
the attendant to the priestess drew a protective circle around us
(She repeated this motion at the end of the service to release the energies we'd called)

After repeating our vows, our hands were bound together with three braided ribbons

And then we "jumped the broom", signifying our acceptance of the daily chores of life

Just before the circle was released, we shared the traditional "first kiss" to seal the deal
(Though this picture was actually when we "replayed it" for the paparazzi)

Of course, we did a few traditional "wedding type" photos as well.

There was the family portrait of all the wedding party

Just the ladies

And just the gents in their lovely kilts

And just for the jollies, I'm including this one taken of our daughter before the ceremony
(Smile, kid! You look prettier with a smile!)

And last but not least, the cutting of the cake





Although the price of gas and prior commitments resulted in a small turnout, we got most of the guests on film. They were as follows:

My mom and my sister

My mom's "main squeeze"

The priestess's husband (the person who talked Bill into the kilt)

The photographer and her son

The photographer's "chauffeur" (with her son)

Friends who own a camp where we keep our kayaks all summer

Bill's niece from Pennsylvania

Bill's niece's daughter and her best friend

We also had Bill's nephew and a couple who comes to the camp a lot,
but their photos didn't come out....

Of course, I also like this photo of our daughter-in-law with the baby:

She looks so cute holding a wee one.....
even if she has a couple more years of vet school to complete before she holds her own....



They were all treated to a picnic

with ribs cooked by the groom over "ye olde charcoal grill"

There was also some entertainment when the groom and his best man put their dress swords to use

(No worries - it was all in fun, so neither highlander lost his head....)



So for those who are visiting this page to see the photos of yourselves, thank you for your attendance, and we hope you had as much fun as we did. For those who are visiting because you weren't able to make it, we'll see you at the 50th anniversary bash, okay?




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