(Note: The red candle should already be lit, with an invocation to Set having already been recited prior to when the wedding ceremony begins. The white candles remain unlit until the invocation to the Ancestors.)
Officiant: Welcome everyone, and good evening. We are gathered here today to witness the joining of [Couple’s Names] in holy matrimony. We stand here in each other’s presence to offer our love and support for this union, and to ensure that [Couple’s Names] shall continue their life together in the presence of those who are nearest and dearest to their hearts. Thank you all for coming.
2. Invocation to the Ancestors
Officiant: [Couple’s Names] chose to have their wedding at this time of year because of the significance it has in numerous cultures across the world. Many people regard this time—when our side of the Earth is tilting away from the Sun—as a good time for remembering our ancestors. The shortening of the days, the lengthening of the nights, and the coming of the frost all fill us with great anxiety, reminding us that winter’s hard lessons are soon ahead. Across the world, entire families are now gathering to warm themselves by the fireside; and in some cases, they welcome the ones they have lost to their fires as well. So it is that we now offer this candle to the memory of our sacred dead.
(Light white candles.)
Officiant: Let us all close our eyes and observe a brief moment of silence for those who cannot join us in the flesh, but who are always with us in spirit.
(Brief moment of silence.)
Officiant: May all those whom we have loved and lost come forth and join us this night to share in our warmth, and to celebrate this sacred joining of two families into one.
3. Exchange of Vows
Officiant: [Couple’s Names], marriage is many things. I encourage you to think of it now as a kind of horticulture, or gardening. Two family trees are now intertwining together to become one greater, stronger Tree. The roots of this Tree dig deep into the past, and its branches reach ever higher into the future. Tonight you will sprout your very own branch, together.
Officiant: And now, in the presence of their family and friends, [Couple’s Names] will exchange their vows for everyone to hear.
Officiant: [Betrothed #1], do you take this person, [Betrothed #2], to be your spouse, bound by love and by law?
Betrothed #1: I do.
Officiant: [Betrothed #2], do you take this person, [Betrothed #1], to be your spouse, bound by love and by law?
[Betrothed #2]: I do.
(Officiant gives Betrothed #1 the ring for him/her to give to Betrothed #2.)
Officiant: Then please repeat after me, [Betrothed #1].
Officiant & Betrothed #1: I give you this ring as a daily reminder of my undying commitment to you and our love. I commit myself to you as my partner in life for the rest of my days. I commit myself to treating you as my equal and my greatest friend. I commit myself to being loyal and to never committing any transgression against you. I commit myself to the responsibility we both share to uphold our lives as a family. Now and forevermore, amen.
(Betrothed #1 places the ring on Betrothed #2’s finger. Then Officiant gives Betrothed #2 the ring for Betrothed #1.)
Officiant: Please repeat after me, [Betrothed #2].
Officiant & Betrothed #2: I give you this ring as a daily reminder of my undying commitment to you and our love. I commit myself to you as my partner in life for the rest of my days. I commit myself to treating you as my equal and my greatest friend. I commit myself to being loyal and to never committing any transgression against you. I commit myself to the responsibility we both share to uphold our lives as a family. Now and forevermore, amen.
(Betrothed #2 places the ring on Betrothed #1’s finger, and the cord-bearer presents the handfasting cord to the wedding party.)
Officiant: This is the Cord of Hand-Fasting. It will bind [Couple’s Names] together with the bonds of love and support from each other and their family and friends. We ask that all who are here bring forth good thoughts of love and positive energy to flow into these bonds of love, so that [Couple’s Names] may share in the closeness of your thoughts and well wishes. For such bonds to be strong, they need support, not only from each other but also from their family and friends. This sacred commitment should never be given lightly between two people.
(Following a brief pause, Betrothed #2 presents the cord to Betrothed #1. The cord-bearer steps forward to tie the cord.)
Officiant: [Couple’s Names], as we tie these cords on you, I will remind those present that this union unites not only these two people, but two halves of a circle, much like that of a ring. When two adult humans pledge their hearts to each other, they not only create a home and a family of their own; they also carry with them the support, good will, and hopes of all who care for them as individuals. This union is a confirmation to the families from which you come that they are worthy and that their contribution to your lives shall be continued in the home that you now create. In a close and personal way, your marriage is a uniting of these two families that bore and raised you. By uniting together, each of you joins the family of the other to bear its strengths and promises into the future as it lies within your ability to do so.
Officiant: [Couple’s Names], raise high your intent and promise to each other so that all gathered here may witness the fullness of your vows.
(The Betrothed raise their hands so that everyone may see the handfasting cord, which by now hangs loosely around their wrists.)
Officiant: Then may the tie that now binds you be as sweet as honey wine; yet may it also be as firm as iron!
(The Betrothed now repeat the following after the Officiant.)
Officiant and Couple: As this cord is wrapped around, so then too are we now bound.
Officiant: As this knot is tied, so are your lives now bound for as long as your love shall last.
(The Betrothed now pull their hands apart and pull the ends of the cord, thus creating a love-knot.)
5. Pronouncement of the Married Couple
Officiant: As you have now both pledged to each other your lifelong commitment, love and devotion, then by the Laws of the State of [State] and the County of [County], I now pronounce you [word choice to be chosen by couple, but usually “husband and wife”]. Partake ye now of each other’s breath, and go forth into the world as a married couple!
(The married couple kiss.)
Officiant: Friends & family, I now present to you... [Couple’s full legal married names].
(Everyone claps; then the cord-bearer brings the broom to the Officiant.)
Officiant: And now, for their first act together as [“husband and wife”], [Couple’s Names] will jump over this broom. This is an ancient African, Celtic, and Romani tradition whereby newlyweds may enter a new life and create a new family by “sweeping away” their single lives, their former problems, and their former concerns. By jumping this broom, [Couple’s Names] will begin a new adventure together as [“wife and husband”].
(The cord-bearer now steps back and hands the ceremonial broom to two of attendants of the wedding party, from either side of the altar. The attendants crouch down on either side of the broom, holding it a safe distance above the ground. The Officiant leads everyone present to chant, “JUMP THE BROOM!” three times; then the newlyweds jump over the broom and the ceremony is complete.)
Officiant: This ceremony is now complete. Let us celebrate!