Our super sweet and silly gender-neutral atheistic Pagan ceremony script

Updated Oct 19 2015
Guest post by Erin
All photos by JLMY Photography[/caption]
All photos by JLMY Photography

My partner and I are decidedly non-traditional people. On the outside, we look like a (stereo)typical heterosexual couple. On the inside, we are anything but. So when we decided to get married, we knew that our wedding needed to reflect us as a couple, and not our parents' or anyone else's vision of what was supposedly correct.

With a bit of help from the internet (Offbeat Bride especially!), a few books, and my personal experience writing atheistic pagan sabbat rituals, we wrote our ceremony script ourselves. It was an undertaking, but ultimately we came up with something that we absolutely loved. Since we got so much help online, we thought it would be great to share it with everyone! Following is our complete script…

Ceremony materials

  • Altar table
  • Altar cloth
  • Earth: Plant with stones
  • Air: Incense
  • Fire: Candle
  • Water: Goblet of water
  • Handfasting cord
  • Wedding rings
  • Lanterns and shepherd's hook

Introduction and Statement of Intent

Officiant: Love is the energy that binds our universe together, makes us whole, and human. While we may all be young in consciousness, and our lives fleeting, the matter of which we are made is as old as the universe itself. This brief but beautiful organization of matter into individuals and the intertwining of our lives have been celebrated for much of human history, in many different ways and across cultures.

And so today, we are gathered here to witness the formal, public, and legal declaration of love and commitment between [Partner 1] and [Partner 2].

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2], do you come into this marriage of your own free will, and with full conscious intent?

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: Then please place your lanterns, your individual lights, on the hook behind me to signify your intent to continue to build your future together as a lawfully wedded couple.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2] move to either side of the officiant, and hang lanterns from the shepherd's hook, then return to original place.

Readings

Officiant: With this marriage, you not only bring your own lives together, but those of your friends, your family, your communities. A supportive community is a cornerstone for loving and lasting relationships. And so, in acknowledgement of the role of community, of friends and family, we will now hear readings from [your wedding party].

Reading: The Couple's Tao Te Ching: "Transforming Power" & "A Sacred Space" by Lao Tzu, Interpreted by William Martin)
Your love contains the power
of a thousand suns.
It unfolds as naturally and effortlessly
as does a flower,
and graces the world with its blooming.
Its beauty radiates a transforming energy
that enlivens all who see it.
Because of you, compassion and joy
are added to the world.
That is why the stars sing together
because of your love.

Your love requires space in which to grow.
This space must be safe enough
to allow your hearts to be revealed.
It must offer refreshment for your spirits
and renewal for your minds.
It must be a space made sacred
by the quality of your honesty,
attention, love, and compassion.
It may be anywhere,
inside or out,
but it must exist.

Reading: Excerpts from Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al.)
The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution's central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

If rights were defined by who exercised them in the past, then received practices could serve as their own continued justification and new groups could not invoke rights once denied. This Court has rejected that approach, both with respect to the right to marry and the rights of gays and lesbians.

The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better-informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.

Choices about marriage shape an individual's destiny. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has explained, because "it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition."

Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.

The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.

Reading: "To Love is Not to Possess," by James Kavanaugh)
To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

"Epithalamium" by Liz Lochhead)
For marriage, love and love alone's the argument.
Sweet ceremony, then hand in hand we go
Taking to our changed, still dangerous days, our complement.
We think we know ourselves, but all we know
Is: love surprises us. It's like when sunlight flings
A sudden shaft that lights up glamorous the rain
Across a Glasgow street – or when Botanic Spring's
First crisp, dry breath turns February air champagne.
Delight's infectious – your friends
Put on, with glad rag finery today, your joy,
Renew in themselves the right true ends
They won't let old griefs, old lives, destroy.
When at our lover's feet our opened selves we've laid
We find ourselves, and all the world, remade.

Declaration of love and commitment

Officiant: Thank you all for your kind and profound words on love, partnership, and marriage.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2], as you proceed into your future, happy and difficult times will come as surely as the sun rises and sets, as surely as the seasons cycle and change. As life partners, you promise to weather the changes and difficult times, take solace and support in one another, and share equally your burdens and your joys. At this time, with the blessing of your community here today, as well as those who could not be in attendance, you will make your declarations of love and commitment. To determine who will go first, you will partake in the ancient and sacred ritual of rock, paper scissors.

Atheistic Pagan Ceremony Script

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2] read their letters of love and commitment to each other, in the order determined by rock paper scissors. The person who "wins" the game goes first.

Parnter 1: Querido, when we met, I wasn't looking for anything specifically serious. I wanted to go out, have a good time, laugh, and just enjoy the company of others. Our first date was awesome, and not just because I kicked your butt in every single game of darts at Blueberry Hill. You had the same delightful sense of absurdist humor, and when you weren't cracking ridiculous one-liners, you were a wonderful listener and engaging in conversation.

That sense of fun, of spontaneity, of taking pure joy in the act of living itself, were constant every time we went out after that, and have remained thoroughly present in our relationship. As we have grown together over the last two years, the joy and contentment I feel with you have grown deeper and more complex. There is a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction, of relaxation into our true selves, that I cannot adequately capture with mere words.

Chores and small, inconsequential moments become joyful when we do them together. The world seems more beautiful, vibrant, and hopeful when I see it through the eyes of our partnership.

So today, I declare that I love you like the universe: my love is both infinite and constantly expanding. It is with the utmost joy, gratitude, and passion that I commit myself to you and to building our life together, whatever the future may bring us.

Partner 2: My Love, I wasn't expecting to fall in love when we first started dating. Despite both of our raised shields, we continued to seek each other's embrace. I didn't realize it at the time, but from the start I already had set a space aside for you in my heart. Our dates were fun and exciting, and our conversations were both engaging and enlightening. At the end of each date I found myself counting the days until the next one. I was hooked.

You have continued to be a constant source of joy in my life. I love the time we spend together preparing and eating food, cuddling in each other's arms, going on walks and runs, exploring new parks and restaurants, discussing our days and world events, watching cute animal videos on the internet, and more. You have constantly challenged me to grow as a person, a fact which I admire and respect. Your spontaneous puns are brilliant and never fail to bring me joy. It fills me with delight to see the smile upon your face, even more to know that somehow I helped put it there.

I love you. I love every moment we spend together, every place we go together, everything we do together, because we are together. These past two years in partnership with you have been unforgettable and undeniably wonderful. It is thus with excitement, joy, and with every cell in my body that today I affirm my love for you and my desire to spend my future continuing to build our life together, overcoming any obstacle we may face. I love you.

handfasting ceremony

Handfasting and vows

Officiant: [Partner 1] and [Partner 2] have chosen a handfasting ceremony to formalize their union. This type of ceremony, in which the partners' hands are bound as a sign of their commitment to one another is the source of the phrase, to "Tie the Knot." Today, they will incorporate four knots, each representing one of the four classical elements as well as a corresponding pillar of their relationship. [Partner 1] and [Partner 2], please join your hands.

They join hands. Officiant lays the cord across their hands.

Officiant: These cords will now be tied around your hands as a physical representation of the decision you make to bind together your lives. As I make each knot, each party member will approach and place the elemental symbols of your love upon the altar.

And so we begin.

[Party Member 1] approaches the altar and places the potted plant on the altar.

[Party Member 1]: Like Earth, let your trust in one another be steadfast, a rich ground where love can grow stronger and flourish.

Officiant makes the first knot.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We will.

[Partner Member 2] approaches the altar and places the incense on the altar.

[Party Member 2]: Like Air, take joy in your flights of fancy, and feed one another's interests, curiosities, and intellect.

Officiant makes the second knot.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We will.

[Party Member 3] approaches the altar and places the candle on the altar.

[Party Member 3]: Like Fire, let love and compassion for each other burn brightly, lighting your way forward and warming your spirits.

Officiant makes the third knot.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We will.

[Party Member 4] approaches the altar and places the goblet on the altar.

[Party Member 4]: Like Water, be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world together.

Officiant makes the fourth knot.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We will.

Officiant: These cords and the knots formed around your hands represent the commitments you make here today. They are strong enough to hold you together through times of struggle, yet flexible enough to allow for individuality and personal growth.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2], do you promise to treat each other with compassion, to actively listen, and communicate without judgment? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: Do you promise to honor and respect one another in your mutual humanity, accepting each other fully in your flaws and strengths? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: Do you promise to support each other through good times and bad, and grow together in your love and life experiences? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: Do you promise to care for one another, in sickness and in health, physically and emotionally? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: Do you promise to laugh together, make terrible puns, crack plenty of jokes, and otherwise be equal partners in crime? If so, please say, "We doo-doo."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We doo-doo.

Officiant: Do you promise to love one another always, cook and eat dinner together as much as possible, and make time to spend together even when schedules are full and time is scarce? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

LK: Above all, do you choose each other as life partners? If so, please say, "We do."

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: We do.

Officiant: You may now release your hands and place the cord on the altar. Like your lives and your love, the cord remains knotted in a circle, a continuous, infinite loop.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2] place the cord on the altar and return to position.

Exchange of rings

Officiant picks up rings from altar.

Officiant: As a reminder of that infinity, and to seal the promises you have made to each other here today, you will exchange rings and mark the transition from engagement to marriage.

The precious metal in these rings came from the ground as a rough ore and was heated and purified, shaped and polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements. Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings.

Officiant hands a ring to whoever "won" rock-paper-scissors.

Officiant: Please repeat after me: With this ring, I seal my love and my promises to you.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: With this ring, I seal my love and my promises to you.

Officiant: Let this ring remind you that I chose you, and will always choose you, to be my partner.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2]: Let this ring remind you that I chose you, and will always choose you, to be my partner.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2] slides the ring onto the other's finger. Officiant then repeats these lines with the other partner.

non-gendered ceremony pagan script

Pronouncement

Officiant: I now pronounce you partners in life. You may proceed to gross everyone out with your first spousal snog.

[Partner 1] and [Partner 2] make out, then turn towards the audience, holding hands.

Officiant: I present to you all, [Partner 1] and [Partner 2]. May you two live long and prosper.

  1. What a beautiful couple and a wonderful ceremony. Their wedding looks amazing, I'd love to see that on here.

    • (OP here!) Thank you so much!! We are planning on submitting our wedding once we have all of our photos from our photographer. She rushed the ones in this post to me so that they could be included! 🙂

  2. I love this! All of this! The kiss at the end is hilarious and my gawd that dress… just beautiful 🙂

    • Thank you so much!! I actually designed the dress myself, and had it made by a local clothier, Karen DeGuire, whose work is just spectacular! You can find her at http://www.curiouscatclothing.com. Much of the work she does is corsetry and Renaissance attire, and I can't say enough wonderful things about her! 🙂

  3. Thanks for this! My intended and I are both atheists and I have pagan leanings, so this will be helpful in planning our ceremony script.

    • Hooray! I am so glad that this will be helpful for you! We got a ton of help online, as I mentioned, so I am really glad to pay it forward. 😀

  4. Hi Erin. I'm the Managing Editor of HumanisticPaganism.com and we are collecting writings by and about non-theistic Pagans for an anthology called "Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans," which will include the writings and art of Pagans who are atheist, non-theistic, pantheistic, animistic, and so on. I would love to include a ritual script (possibly this one) in the anthology. Please contact me at humanisticpaganism[at]gmail[dot]com to discuss. Thanks, John

    • Hi John! Thanks for your interest in my post! I would definitely be interested in discussing potential inclusion in your anthology. I've sent an email to the address you gave; looking forward to hearing back!

  5. This is absolutely lovely.
    That first paragraph really resonated with me. My future partner and I look like a hetero couple, but inside, like you, we are not. Our families aren't aware of it, and we're both semi private people, so we don't see that they need to be. I'm in the midst of writing my vows and I'm trying to incorporate gender neutral/equal wording so this really inspired me. (And that dip!! Eeee!) May I ask which books you referenced?

  6. thanks so much for this! needed it and will be using this for my wedding in October! blessings to you!

  7. Eep!!
    This is going to be super helpful when my partners and I eventually get around to planning our poly commitment ceremony!! I love that it incorporates the pagan elements (hehe, pun) without coming on super strong! And the gender neutrality! And the bit with the constitution!

  8. I love this a lot! I want to try to incorporate a handfasting ritual into our ceremony. Plus, I want to make it more gender neutral since I'm nonbinary. Plus my partner and I want something (like you said) that reflects that we don't function as a pair based on gender roles. So this helps give me a place to start.

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