Aidan & John's Celtic renaissance faerie handfasting

By on Dec. 28th

The Offbeat Bride: Aidan, Author, MUA, Media Relations and Actor

Her offbeat partner: John, Public Relations and Actor

Date and location of wedding: Kentucky Highlands Renaissance Festival, Eminence, KY — July 28, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We both work as actors for the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Festival, a 14th century Scotland setting, and it was a big part of bringing us together. As cast members, we got a nice deal on the rental as well.

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On top of that, for the 2012 season, they brought back the faerie forest, and I was accepted onto the faerie cast. Part of being on that cast was helping bring the new forest area to life, so we can both say we had a hand in building the area our ceremony was in. It was also nice that the forest needed very little decoration. We had some strands of crystal beads that were made by a very good friend/faire vendor, that we hung throughout the ceremony area, and little dragonfly shaped mirrors and rhinestone flowers in different colors.

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Now, with the way the back of my gown was, I had to forgo wearing wings like my bridesmaids did, but I did have my little Rowan charm hanging from my bouquet. I just couldn't imagine getting married in the forest without a little bit of Rowan with me. John's shirt and vest were actually a part of the wedding gift made by his best man for him to use as his jester character, Pocket. The sporran he wore with his kilt is also part of his Pocket attire. Who we play, especially at faire (where we essentially live the character on the weekends), becomes a part of us, so we really wanted to include that.

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We had several castmates as a part of the wedding, since the cast is one big functionally dysfunctional family. My poor mother kept saying, "This is a wedding, not a production," but with acting being such a part of our lives and relationship, and so many of our friends being performers as well, how could it not be a production too?

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We share a passion for one particular Celtic band, Great Big Sea. We had "Shines Right Through Me" for his attendants, "When I Am King" for him, "Graceful & Charming" for my attendants, "Beat The Drum" as the recessional and "Company of Fools" as our entrance to the reception. We also had our song, Great Big Sea's "The Mermaid," played as an instrumental, since the lyrics would have been a bit much for some of my more conservative family.

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The reception was in the Great Hall of Briarwood, with the King's feast table on the stage as our head table. We had little faerie habitats as centerpieces, and live ivy strung every where. "Scotland the Brave," played by our amazing string quartet, kicked off a dinner of roast pork and chicken quarters, new potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, and green beans.

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I changed into a deep purple dress similar in style to what the noblewomen of the village wear, and two very unique performance duos took the floor. The first was Oakley's band, Oakley and the Fae, although the other half of that pair was in his village drunk persona rather than his fae one, Staggerwort. They played a selection of wonderful, mostly traditional Irish and Scottish pieces. When they finished, the second group went on — Briarwood's own Drunk & Sailor! They did a few tamer pieces, including one that my dad was called up for, before launching in to some of the more "bawdy" ren faire songs that we know and love.

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Of course, we weren't going to end the night without a final song. No final dance for us, though. At the end of a faire day, the entire cast and many of the performers who have shows during the day, gather on the main stage in the Great Hall and sing a very sweet piece called "Health to the Company." The song is all about thanking everyone for being there, and living in the moment, to quote the song "For we may and might never, all meet here again." We ended our big day in a circle on the dance floor, most of the remaining guests being our rennie family, singing the song that has so many wonderful memories of faire, and now of our wedding.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was actually written for us by our officiant, who also happens to be a published poet. We added two readings: "Union" by Robert Fulghum and "Love is Like Owning a Dog" by Taylor Mali. The best man initially started that one with "John is like a dog…," being silly.

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Another element that was important to us was the handfasting. We both have strong Scottish and Irish ancestry, and we're both Pagan, so we wanted to incorporate this little bit of tradition in to our day. Around our chosen wedding date, Lughnasadh, the first of the Pagan harvest holidays and one of the traditional times for a handfasting. In the Pagan community, the number three and multiples of three have a lot of meaning, as do the elements. So I made the three cords out of embroidery floss in different colors to represent the elements. For earth, we did shades of green and brown. For air, shades of pale/sky blue. For fire, shades of red. For water, shades of deep blue and for spirit a combination of gold (for the God), silver (for the Goddess), and iridescent white (for the overall idea of spirit).

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My favorite moment: My grandfather on my dad's side passed away in 1996. He was a pastor, and as a little girl, I had always dreamed of him performing my wedding ceremony. As a way to remember him, we chose to use his favorite song, the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts," during the lighting of the Unity Candle. My grammy passed away in 2007, and both of the songs used for the seating of the mothers and grandmothers were favorites of hers. To us, it was the perfect way to have them with us.

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My funniest moment: Even though he's known us a while, and we met with him before the wedding, the king couldn't manage to pronounce our last name right at the end of the ceremony. I was trying not to completely crack up as first John and then his best man tried to tell him how to pronounce it. Honestly, I don't remember if he ever got it right.

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Also, during faire season, I am notorious for getting into my attire, corset included, and then realizing that I forgot my shoes. If you've never done it, bending over enough to put on shoes while wearing a corset can be interesting, if not nearly impossible. Because of that, I was very proud that I remembered to put my shoes on before my hoop skirt or gown… and then realized that I forgot my garters! My darling Man of Honor offered to help by crawling under the hoop while I stood on one foot, trying not to fall over, as I tried to help him get them in the right place.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: When the ceremony is over, before photos or anything else, sneak away and take a few moments to yourself. No matter what type of couple you are or what kind of wedding you have, you'll be glad you did this. It gives both of you a chance to catch your breath and take it all in before launching in to the reception.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? You can never have too much help, especially with if you have a lot of DIY elements. Delegating is your friend! I've always had trouble asking for help, but with everything else we had going on while planning, I had no choice, and I really do think I learned something from that.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Beautiful custom veils and jewelery: Etsy seller CreateYourDream (I love my veil! I made the blusher though, kind of last-minute)
  • John and my dad's kilts: GotKilt.com (These wonderful folks also vend at our faire, so we were able to buy them in person. Really nice quality!)
  • All of the Bridal party's wings, except for the shiny, iridescent ones: Suzie's Landing (Another faire vendor, really awesome folks.)
  • Bridesmaids dresses, excluding Matron of Honor: Garbtheworld.com (Pretty nice… but they tend to run large, even with custom measurements.)
  • Our amazing flowers, including the Weaponized Bouquet of Doom (mine…it was about 6lbs!): nanzandkraft.com
  • Our fabulous venue with on-site catering, and second home: the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Festival
  • Our amazing photo/video team: Hatfield Media

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!