Mari-Anne & Larry's big fat pagan handfasting

By on Dec. 18th Photos by D. Becker Photography
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Photos by Torri Koppenaal of D. Becker Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Mari-Anne, Substitute Teacher

Her offbeat partner: Larry, Teacher

Date and location of wedding: Loree Chapel and The Lodge at Schooley's Mtn. Park, Long Valley, NJ — October 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: This was not my first time around the wedding block, but it was for Larry. I wanted almost nothing traditional as I had done that already. The most important things to us were that our day expressed who we are, that our friends and family have fun, that we have fun, and that we included most of our interests. Thus was born "LarryAnne's Big Fat Pagan Handfasting" with an enchanted forest theme, complete with costumes. Most of our guests did play along and wore costumes fitting the theme.

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I am Wiccan and Hellenic Polytheist. Larry is a Heathen and Ásatrú. It was important in our ceremony that we honored both of those spiritual traditions without overwhelming our guests. I wrote the ceremony myself having been Wiccan clergy and writing rituals for many years. This included a handfasting ceremony. We made our own handfasting cords, braiding ribbons together and tying talismans and pendants onto the ends along with pieces of amber. We also made our own mead for the ceremony and reception.

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Offbeat Bride was invaluable in providing us with all sorts of ideas for the event: an inflatable D20 for guests to roll if they wanted us to kiss and chalkboard stickers on jars for our guests to write their names on and use for the evening, then take home as gifts.

Instead of a DJ, I downloaded a jukebox app to my iPad and used our own playlist with a Block Rocker PA system. Our guests were able to choose what they wanted to hear and dance to, but from OUR favorite music, which included quite a bit of heavy metal.

Our baker created a beautiful four-tier Lord of the Rings-themed cake with scenes from Middle Earth on the main layer, and one layer being The One Ring with Elven script reading: "One love to rule them all."

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We had a custom cake topper made of ourselves and our dogs that included Larry's nickname of "Chainsaw Larry," his Viking ancestry, and a hat and broom since I am a witch/Wiccan.

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sharing mead

Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a blended ceremony including the gods we worship and honor, a handfasting with the cords we made ourselves, and an exchange of chalice and drinking horn with mead we made ourselves. It was in a chapel in the woods above a waterfall which could be heard during the ceremony. It was threatening to rain shower that day in the forecast, but when we woke up at the hotel that morning, we looked out the window and saw brilliant sunshine.

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Larry walked down the aisle to "The Anvil of Crom" from Conan The Barbarian.

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My ex-husband (one of my best friends) walked me down the aisle, and we walked down the path to "Mystic's Dream" by Loreena McKennitt. Both of my parents have passed away, so it was special to me to have him there for that. Two of our dear friends officiated. We had our guests "warm" our rings and bestow their good wishes on them as they entered the space.

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Our vows were quite humorous, but heartfelt, and were call-and-reply with the reply taking a cue from Starship Troopers: "Until you're dead or I find someone better." They included me accepting his love of flatulence humor, miniature war-gaming and Miami Vice. And his included having to accept my PMS rage, Buffy marathons, and sunglasses addiction. We are polyamorous also, so our vows did not include "forsaking all others."

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Our biggest challenge:
I'm not normally a crafty person. I'm very adept at buying other people's beautiful creations. But I kept seeing things I liked, but that were simply not in our budget, so I took some inspiration and DIYed some projects. With some help at times from friends, I created the centerpieces, the guest signing board, the card box, and chalkboard signage. We managed to come in at about our budget, which made me happy.

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My favorite moment:
We loved opening a bottle of 75-year-old cognac that Larry's grandfather in France (who passed away earlier this year) gave to him for a special occasion. We also made a toast to our family and friends in lieu of anyone making one in honor of us.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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