What is a handfasting?
Handfasting is the name given to contemporary Pagan marriage ceremonies. Pagans have drawn upon traditions from Celtic countries such as Ireland, Scotland and Wales where, in remote and rural areas, traditional marriage practices persisted into relatively recent times. Handfasted couples were said to have been married 'outside the Church'. These traditions were practiced by people who were often disparagingly refereed to as heathens (inhabitants of open country) and pagans (civilians or villagers). Their spiritual beliefs often incorporated a reverence for nature, Goddesses and Gods and their ancestors. These days the idea of a handfasting as being beyond the purview of an established church has lead to it also being seen as a secular or civil marriage practice. Central to a handfasting is the symbolic knotting of a cord or ribbon about the hands of the couple, binding their lives together. This practice gives us the contemporary metaphor for marriage: 'tying the knot.'
Civil or religious ceremony?
Whether you choose a civil or religious ceremony your handfasting should reflect your beliefs.
- As an atheist, humanist, scientist or someone who simply wants to be married "outside the Church" a civil handfasting might be right for you. This is a secular ceremony where the marriage occurs under the authority of the state.
- Religious handfastings tend to be requested by Pagans, Heathens and Witches and those who feel a spiritual connection to the earth. In such a ceremony the union is in accord with that which the couple recognize as sacred.
What does it cost?
Cara provides religious handfastings on a voluntary basis and asks that the couple to make a small donation to assist with her annual costs. A small fee is charged for civil handfastings. Couples are also asked to cover any travel expenses and accommodation costs should it be required. Travel distances have ranged between 30 and 3,000 km in the past and this usually constitutes the largest expense associated with most bookings. Couples should budget between $300 - $550 for a celebrant's fees and expenses. A detailed written estimate of expenses and fees is routinely provided, usually before the initial meeting. Use this form to request an estimate now.
When can we be married?
All couples are required to give a month's notice before they are permitted to marry. You will be required to complete a Notice of Intention to Marry, have your signatures witnessed and present the document to your celebrant (with the specified identification documents) at least a month before the ceremony. Only a Court may vary the notification period. The sooner you book the greater the chance Cara will be available to officiate at your handfasting.
Must I change my name when I'm married?
No. However if you do wish to change your name after you marry please contact the registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your state. If you reside in Victoria the consult the BDM website for further information.
Where can I access Relationship Support?
By law authorized marriage celebrants are now required to inform couples about relationship support services. Should you be in need of relationship support services Cara recommends consulting Relationships Australia. They have a wide range of services and programs and offices right across Australia. Cara also recommends talking to your GP who may refer you on to a local psychologist. If the issue warrants it ask your GP about a mental health plan, this may enable you to access a psychologist at a greatly reduced rate. If you're searching for a psychologist for Couples Therapy or other relationship services consult the Australian Psychological Society's directory of psychologists.