Autumn is here, Halloween is approaching, and it is alternative wedding season. For alternative couples and people, Halloween is the preferred time of year to hold a wedding, commitment, handfasting or vow renewal ceremony. The time of year when the veil between the two worlds thins and a busy time for Halloween weddings and ceremonies
What is Halloween?
Halloween comes from the words ‘hallowed eve’. Christians celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st. It is a day to celebrate all saints who Christians believe have ascended to Heaven. The saints in their believe are hallow, holy. The evening before (31st October) was called ‘All Hallows Eve’, the ‘Eve of All Hallows’. Hallows evening became ‘Hallowe’en’ then ‘Halloween’ as we now spell it.
Halloween Weddings, More Than Fancy Dress
Halloween is a fun time of the year that comes with its own colour scheme of black, orange, grey, white, red, and purple. There are different kinds of Halloween weddings, they aren’t all about fancy dress and fake blood. Dressing as horror characters is the choice for some, Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride is the choice for others. Most embrace the atmospheric romance of this autumn season which is the perfect back drop for a late afternoon or early evening ceremony.
Castles, ruins, stately homes, less modern looking hotels, barns, and outdoor marquees are ideal venues for Halloween weddings. Outdoor venues can include woodland areas, gardens, hired fields and cemeteries. (If you are considering a cemetery, make sure you have the permission of the council or owners first). Arnos Vale in Bristol and York cemetery are two incredible cemetery venues which will allow weddings and ceremonies to take place there.
Pagan Weddings at Halloween
Halloween is known by the Celtic name of Samhain to Pagans. It is one of the eight festivals known as sabbats on the Wheel of the Year. Samhain is the sabbat marking the separation of summer and winter. It is the third harvest festival in preparation for the dark winter months ahead. The veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest and it is a time to honour and invite ancestors to return.
Many Pagans avoid Samhain/Halloween as their wedding season as it is the sabbat marking the start of the darkness preceding over the light. Belief of going into the darkness when the fruits, vegetables, corn, wheat, and other grown food sources from the summer have been harvested determines to some Halloween isn’t the right time of the year to hold a wedding or a handfasting.
Others embrace the season and serve harvested foods at their wedding feasts, decorate their venues with the seasonal vegetables of pumpkins, gourds, conkers, colourful autumn leaves, pinecones and ever greens, and use candles to light up their venue. Choosing this time of the year is an acknowledgement life isn’t always bright, warm, and sunny with plenty of things readily available. It is a reminder of less than warm and sunny times and we can only harvest what we sow and grow.
Those who do hold a ceremony during this time may include handfasting and jump the broomstick after calling in their ancestors to be part of their wedding day.
Handfasting at Halloween
The Pagan wedding custom of handfasting can take place at any time of the year. Some Pagans reserve this for the sabbats of Beltane and Litha as these are the sabbats when the Goddess and God join and Litha is the summer solstice, marking the start of the summer with bonfires, festivities, and happy gatherings in celebration of the sun and the summer.
Handfasting binds those who desire it to be bound together. Some believe in being bound for eternity, some until death parts them. Handfasting ceremonies held during Halloween/Samhain rarely include handfasting cords or ribbons made from bright colours as they would during spring or summer. The autumnal colours of brown, russet, orange, dark green, gold, mustard, black, silver, and white are favoured. If the theme is that of a spooky or fancy dress one, purple and red may feature.
Handfasting is a pact made between those the ceremony is for. With the creation of the role of wedding celebrant, anybody can now have a handfasting ceremony regardless of if they are a Pagan or not. Handfasting is a meaningful and beautiful ritual whatever time of the year it takes place.
Goth Weddings at Halloween
Halloween is the most popular time of the year for alternative weddings, in particular goth and gothic weddings. A holiday celebrating the possibility of those who have died to return in spirit to their loved ones, the holiday celebrating the return of longer dark hours over longer light nights, and a festival steeped in magick and folklore is potentially the preferred time of the year for goth weddings.
Candlelight, darkness, romance, Victorian gothic literature, and dark colours combined with pumpkins and spookiness are the perfect requirements for many goth weddings. As an original alternative wedding celebrant and a goth Pagan celebrant who specialises in handfasting and goth ceremonies, this is my busiest time of the year with an average of six ceremonies from the end of October to 1st November.
October is the busiest time for the goth community as the festival held over the last weekend in October takes place in Whitby, and as Whitby is where I live, it is a very busy time. If you are seeking a goth wedding, handfasting or ceremony in Whitby during this time (or any other), why not contact me for further information?
Alternative Weddings at Halloween
Medieval, Norse, Victorian, Occult, Pagan, metal, Witch weddings, horror and Halloween themed ceremonies take place during this festival too. Held across the UK in various venues, many alternative people choose Halloween to be their wedding date.
As Halloween is an ethereal time of the year, it is the perfect time of the year for alternative weddings. If you are considering a Halloween wedding, handfasting, vow renewal or commitment ceremony and are looking for an alternative celebrant who is a ceremony designer to design, build, create and perform your ceremony, If you would like to find out if I could be the right ceremonialist for you, contact me for a chat about your ceremony plans.
Main Image: Shipley Photographic