How To Design A Pagan Handfasting
* Good working knowledge of happy couple's religious preferences
* Access to a library or the Internet
Once you know the preferred format for the handfasting ritual, research online or in a library for details. This handfasting is mostly laid out for pagans, but it can be adapted.
If not already done, write a basic Circle calling ritual. For most modern day pagans, this should cast the Circle and invoke the Quarters. A good circle size is about nine feet, and the Quarters are North, East, South, and West. Please adapt Quarter calling to couple's specific religion, each branch of paganism has its own idea of the manifestation of the Quarters.
About a month before the handfasting ritual, discuss the features the soon-to-be-marrieds would like to emphasize, and make sure all supplies are available. Supplies include but are not limited to: altar table, altar cloth, altar statuary, incense, handfasting cords, athame, wand.
Also discuss with the couple how they would like their vows done. Do they want you to demand a specific oath of them to which they can reply "I do"? Do they want to write their own vows? Do they want a combination? Write full ritual to take preferences into account. Feel free to get poetic, this is a wedding ceremony after all.
On the date and time of the happy occasion, cast the Circle, invoke the Quarters, and ask the blessings of any pertinent god/desses on the sacred space. Ask by name for each person to step forward if and only if of pure heart and true intent. Follow agreed upon script for vows. Ask divinities to witness and bless those vows, thank them for their attention, and invite them to the party.
Thank the Quarters for their attention and blessings, and let them also know that while they are no longer needed, they are also invited to the party.
"So it is spoken, the Circle goes unbroken. Let all be released from this sacred space, and to all Blessed Be." Or something with that general idea in mind. You don't want to break the Circle, you want to release it. Now, yea verily, go and party.
# Handfastings take as much planning as traditional weddings. Do not skimp on that part
# If you want to be legally married as well, either the priest/ess needs to be legally able to do so, or you need to see a Justice of the Peace
# Many pagans do year and day handfastings before the permanent handfasting/legal wedding to be sure that they can live with each other.
# This is in no way intended to be legal advice. This is how to create a ceremony, not a marriage contract.
# Do be careful to ensure that all parties know precisely what they are getting into emotionally, legally, and financially.