Kjirsten& Bruce's medieval pagan handfasting vow renewal

Updated Mar 15 2021
Jumping the besom
Photos by Kerryn Leworthy

The offbeat bride: Kjirsten, Supreme Ladypop and Ruler of Planet Hartwell

Her offbeat partner: Bruce, Internal Sales Legend and Minion Controller of Planet Hartwell

Date and location of wedding: Mount Gravatt Showgrounds, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia — June 25, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our first wedding was traditional (church, white dress, random relatives we didn't really know, etc.). We decided to do our 20th anniversary re-vow the way we'd always wanted: a medieval-style handfasting with some Pagan elements, and a big knees-up.

Merry Men

Flowergirls

We had a maypole, pinatas, everyone came in costume, and our sons, mates, and dogs were in the wedding party. In a way, it was more meaningful than our original wedding. Anyone can make promises, but keeping them "through thick and thin" takes a whole lot more effort.

Kjirsten

We did just about everything ourselves including decorating, invitations, flowers, favours, and maypole. My amazing mother made 21 costumes for the entire wedding party. (She has since had cataract surgery. I'm hoping the two weren't related.) I'm a huge fan of bargain shopping and a total thrift shop junkie, so my dress was made from curtain material and the underskirt came from a church basement thrift shop.

Mr and Mrs Medieval

A mate of mine took the photos for free. I figured I couldn't go wrong. At our original wedding we paid a fortune and didn't get ONE full-length photo of me and hubby together!

Table close up

The reception was held in a local hall (at the top of our street) so we just walked to the wedding. We bought a bunch of huge bubble wands for the kids from a discount shop and had battery-operated candles on the tables. Very child-friendly, although the little gremlins kept pinching them off the tables, so by the end of the night we were sitting in the dark!

On our order of ceremony card we had a quote that said, "when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love." That's us in a nutshell.

Ceremony

Drumming in the groom.

Tell us about the ceremony: We had a Pagan-inspired handfasting ceremony, performed by my god-daughter. It incorporated casting a circle, calling the elements, and sharing a cup. We had all my little nieces and nephews and my best mate's kids as attendants. They took it SO seriously, and were awesome. We promised to love each other "from the rising of the moon to the setting of the stars." We exchanged torcs instead of rings. Our sons wore them to the ceremony and then presented them to us at the appropriate moment.

Kiss

Our biggest challenge: For me personally, it was dressing up. It was really hard to do that whole "centre of attention" deal. It's not comfortable for me at all. I went for a trial make-up appointment at a local place, and the woman made me look like an extra from Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I cried for hours after I finally got home. I was ready to call it all off then. But my niece/bridesmaid came to the rescue and showed me how to apply makeup that still made me recognisable to my kids.

Best men and the Lady Faire

My favorite moment: Having my best mate in the world give me away. My dad passed away 10 years ago, so it meant so much that he traveled 1500 kms to be there for me.

Making promises to my husband, while my eleven year-old sang "peanut butter jelly time" under his breath. It totally summed up our life.

I also loved watching my husband watch me walk towards him, knowing I looked beautiful. As a mother of two special needs boys, my appearance is so far down my list of things that have to be dealt with that I wear flannel pajama pants as my day-to-day day wardrobe. I mean, they don't have teddy bears or hearts on them, but they're not stylish. But, the kids on the school crossing think they're cool.

Release the hounds!!

My funniest moment: My dog Benson barked all the way through because he was sure that the incense burner on the altar was a barbecue and he was hungry.

Minions

My best mate looking out the window as my husband and his attendants walked to the altar, and announcing, "Here comes Bruce and a battalion of Smurfs" (since we had a lot of little attendants).

Maypole

Maypole

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The maypole. We were so sure that our slightly conservative families would take one look and run away screaming, but they loved it! It was a total exercise in medieval cat herding, but brilliant, nonetheless.

Vikings!!

Asking people to dress the part. But everyone did it! My father-in-law and grandfather of many dressed as a monk. My god-daughter was in a massive pair of black wings. My niece, her boyfriend, and little daughter were dressed as Vikings.

Cake Art

My advice for offbeat brides: Do it the way you want. Please please please. You'll thank me later. When you look at your photos and you get nothing but good vibes, you'll be so glad you did. I promise.

Don't be afraid to look outside the box… way way outside. I dumpster dived onto my wedding underskirt. It was buried under a mountain of whiffy woollen jumpers in a tiny church basement. Turns out there were eight metres of material in the skirt and the same material in the shops went for $89 a metre.

Tables

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? EVERYTHING. Last time was what everyone expected from a young couple getting married. This time it was what people had come to expect from the two of us after 20 years together. We did what we wanted, wore what we wanted, and said what we wanted to say.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Don't sweat the small stuff. Seriously. No one remembers that shit afterwards, and if they do, it's generally with a giggle, so it's all good. Write down the funny stuff right afterwards before you forget. With ten little people in our wedding party, some of the stuff they said was priceless. Our smallest flower girl announced that she wanted "a bell and a wand. And some lady hair. Like Uncle Bruce."

My 11-year-old, when asked what he wanted to wear to the wedding, responded with "a longbow and some arrows, a brace of throwing knives, a broadsword, and a battle-axe." When I announced to the page-boy that we were "getting married, not fighting Orcs" one of them replied, "Yeah, 'cos if there were Orcs, you'd probably get married inside, huh?"

Family Shot

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Invitations, place cards, and order of ceremony cards: freebies from VistaPrint.
  • Costumes for the wedding party: the House of Mother. Thanks, mum, you totally rock.
  • Wedding decor, cups on the tables, and table covers: thrift shops. We got 100 assorted earthenware cups/bowls from a thrift shop for $10 if we agreed to re-donate them after the wedding. TOO EASY!
  • Goody bags: made by me, with the little brooms from a local craft shop. The bags had handmade chocolates and gingerbreads that Bruce and I made and toffee apples.
  • Cake: was made by a friend of my sister-in-law. She does them as a hobby, and it was to die for.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Oh I SO LOVE THIS!!!!

    I love the outfits, the style, the ceremony, the cake topper… and especially that you mostly enjoyed all the little 'flaws' that happened, like the dog barking through everything, because it made it so suitable for who you two are! You are a fantastic couple!

  2. Congratulations. As someone who's more than a few years in to a marriage that has weathered some serious challenges, I get that making it 20 years is something to be celebrated. It looks like a hell of a party.

    And your 11 year old sounds like a hoot! Better prep some armor for his milestone events : )

    Best of luck for the next 20 and beyond.

  3. I love this wedding. It looks fun, it was true to the two of you as a couple, and the cake looks gorgeous! And "Don't sweat the small stuff" is a great reminder for us all (weddings or otherwise). Thanks for sharing this with us!

  4. Perfection.

    Congratulations on your first 20 and best of luck for the next!

    and I agree – your mom rocks! awesome raiment for all!

  5. " 'cos if there were orcs you'd probably get married inside" Indeed! That is just about as precious as it gets, imo. What a great family you must have, with all that imagination and good humor.

    Lovely event, truly lovely, thanks for sharing it, and best wishes for 20 more years, and another 20 after that!

  6. This was one of the best weddings I've ever attended. I had to remind myself to keep shooting because I loved watching it all so much πŸ™‚ Two of the most happy, perfectly matched people on the planet xx

  7. what an amazing looking day! i am grinning ear to ear just reading your story, i hope my partner and i have this much love to share with our community in 20 years time! congratulations.

  8. Brisbane OffbeatWives represent! This looks magical, you look incredible, and your husband looks really familiar… congratulations, and here's to 20 more πŸ™‚

  9. Awwww thanks πŸ™‚ It was a brilliant day…meaningful mayhem with a touch of die hard princessery. Just what we needed to kick start us into the next 20 years.

    • What a perfect description… love it! I am going to be stealing so much wordage from this for my vow-renewal (that I won't be able to wait more than 2 years for because I keep wanting to redo the wedding the way we want it!), so you guys are truly amazing. πŸ™‚

  10. @Jenny…apparantly there was a jacket to match originally, but another thriftaholic found it before I did, otherwise I would have had a cape lined with it to match. I did have a cape (a cream one) but there was only enough orange left over to line the hood. Now I need to relocate somewhere cold so I can get some more use out of it πŸ™‚

  11. "when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness β€” and call it love β€” true love."

    I love this quote! I think I will have to use it for ours. Thanks for sharing. Your dress & hair are amazing too πŸ™‚

  12. Ok, need to comment again…

    You were truly beautiful! (Especially after 20 years of being married?! You look so young and vibrant! Amazing…)
    In fact everyone looked amazing, and I love how many smiles there are in the pictures!

    Your outfit is my favorite thing.

    And I totally sympathize with the makeup thing – even though I kept telling the lady that I wanted very very natural, just make me look like i'm having a good day without makeup, I came home and my husband couldn't look at me. Fortunately, my sister is amazing and knows me and did my makeup perfectly, and even my husband liked it!

    Plus you just introduced me to Priscilla, which I desperately want to watch now.

    Seriously, you are now my favorite offbeat wedding. πŸ™‚

    • I'm so glad I'm not the only one with Trowel-on-the-slap-aphobia….the woman told me my lips were too small and painted me some new ones. Having a pout that touched my nose and my chin simultaeneously was a whole new experience….one that scared babies and old ladies at 50 paces. yeesh!!

      • I don't wear makeup at all. I mean, I'm not opposed to it or allergic or anything; I just never wear it, and my DFH is happy about that – he likes the way I look without it. And yet…I go back and forth over whether to wear "just a little" for my wedding. Sure I want to look nice (whatever THAT means!) but I also want to look like myself. Existential feminist crisis! Have we had a post about this yet?

        • Ok, first, sorry… I feel stupid – what's the D in DFH?

          Second, it's definitely up to you whether to wear makeup. My husband hates the way I look whenever I try to "sneak" some, but it IS possible to have extremely natural looking makeup, which basically makes you like like you normally would, but on one of your best days. And that way there is less photoshopping needed for the pictures πŸ˜‰ (of course that is mostly my vanity speaking). Anyway, that is how I feel we should look on our wedding day: whatever is US, but the BEST of us! πŸ™‚

          Good freaking' luck finding someone to get your makeup to do that, though. I would have been lost without my sister.

          • Sorry for being cryptic – "DFH" = Dear Future Husband. (I see "DH" a lot on some of the other sites I visit, so thought it was a well-known acronym.)

            "Whatever is US, but the BEST of us!" Amen, and I can also hear DFH saying to me, "You're overthinking this, Babe" πŸ˜€

        • It's worth wearing a LITTLE make up if you're going to have photos, just because sometimes your real lovely natural face can look a little washed out otherwise. Just a touch of blusher and a bit of mascara would probably be fine!

  13. Looking like "me" was SO important, because both my boys are Aspergers, and the day was so far out of their routine, that the last thing they needed was to hear my voice coming out of somebody else's face. (The whole Priscilla trial makeup deal freaked them right out!!) My niece helped me, I wore just enough so my face wasn't a white smudge in the photos, and everyone was happy. All those photos are straight off the camera, no editing, (apart from the B&W) so what you see is what it was. Recognisably me, crows feet and all, lol.

  14. This is so lovely! I love that you finally got the wedding you wanted. Your good humour and love for each other is palpable.

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