Legal handfasting?!

In the Druid tradition, each of the great “rites of passage” is marked in the calendar by one of the fire-festivals: death, or Parting, is marked by Samhuinn, 31 October to 2 November, when the old Celtic year ends and there are three days of No-Time before the new year begins. Birth, and consequently Naming, is marked by Imbolc on 1/2 February—the time when the snowdrops appear and we can sense the first stirrings of spring. Mating, the Great Rite of making love, is marked by Bealteinne on 1 May, when the forces of spring are in full flood. Marriage, the formal recognition of having found a long term partner after the explorations of the spring time of one's life, is marked by Lughnasadh on 1 August. This forum is for discussing the ceremonies and customs associated with each festival and for all of the rites of passage in our lives.
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snowbud
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Legal handfasting?!

Postby snowbud » 04 Oct 2011, 08:35

Hi all!

I was wondering if anyone could help or point us in the right direction...my boyfriend popped the question yesterday (I did well to give it a whole day before starting planning!!) and we really want a handfasting but also want the marriage to be legally recognised so understand that we also need a civil ceremony. We'd love to have both services done on the same day (in the same place!) and wondered if anyone has an idea of how feasible this is?

Can celebrants also perform the legally binding bit?

Thanks in advance OBODies!
Snowbud

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Duellist
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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby Duellist » 04 Oct 2011, 10:24

I'd love to answer, but I'd need to know what country you live in...

I'm told that the answer for Scotland is 'yes, without any real issues' to the question of the same venue, but I'm not Scottish or living there.

In England / Wales, its slightly more complicated, but it might be possible. From memory, you need a fixed building and it needs to be licensed (they might have changed that) for weddings, then the registrar needs to do the marriage bit and leave the room before any religious bit can take place. Essentially, the legal paperwork bit has to be 100% secular, but you can stay in the venue after it ends and the registrar leaves to have any religious blessings, etc. added in.

Another common trick in the UK is to separate the religious side from the civil side. Ideally, you get the legal part done either earlier in the day or a few days before / after the 'real' wedding; you can go off to the register office in jeans, sign some paperwork, say some words, then go home legally-married. Sometimes, the registrar will get confused by this (going in casual clothes with only a couple of witnesses can look odd or suspicious), but it is common enough that at least one of their colleagues will have experienced a similar situation. The only issue here is that it can lead to further scrutiny if anything else is unusual, since they'll want to be sure it's not a scam to gain citizenship or otherwise play the system.
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Art
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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby Art » 04 Oct 2011, 15:51

Hi all!

I was wondering if anyone could help or point us in the right direction...my boyfriend popped the question yesterday (I did well to give it a whole day before starting planning!!) and we really want a handfasting but also want the marriage to be legally recognised so understand that we also need a civil ceremony. We'd love to have both services done on the same day (in the same place!) and wondered if anyone has an idea of how feasible this is?

Can celebrants also perform the legally binding bit?

Thanks in advance OBODies!
Snowbud
I see that in an earlier post you mentioned you live in Birmingham. Perhaps someone living close to there will have an answer for you or can give you a hint or two.
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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby snowbud » 05 Oct 2011, 18:18

Hi all!

Sorry I forgot that my location isn't on my user profile bit...I am indeed in Birmingham UK at the moment, we would be looking at North Wales/Shropshire for the ceremony itself.

Very excited but also sensing the logistics are going to be a headache!!

Thanks guys
Snowbud

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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby Sadhaka » 31 Oct 2011, 15:54

My (now) husband and I were handfasted and married on the same day earlier this year. We arranged the handfasting, and booked the Register Office for later the same day. We were handfasted in the morning, then had lunch, and went off to the RO after the lunch.

The handfasting was more important to me (my husband is non pagan), so we had that first. The Registrar was only very slightly bemused that we wanted the shortest version (there are three versions) of the civil ceremony, and was completely unfazed that we would not be exchanging rings at the RO. We explained we will have already committed ourselves to each other, and will have exchanged rings in the morning ceremony. We were honest in telling her it was only for the legal bit we were having the civil ceremony. She was fine about it, although reminded us that we were not to have any religious references in the RO ceremony. No problem.

With a little planning it is possible to do it all on one day. Although we didn't have both ceremonies in the same place, having a break for lunch in the middle seemed to make the day flow better, and to me defined the important handfasting ceremony from the legalising ceremony.

Good Luck, Snowbud. I wish you every happiness.
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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby elementalheart » 08 Nov 2011, 11:52

Not particularly for the situation in Birmingham but someone earlier posted that in Scotland you can get any celebrant to legally marry you aswell - sadly not yet in every case though we're working on it through the recent formation of SICA the Scottish Independent Celebrants' Association.

There is a requirement for a registrar or a minister of a recognised (authorised) religion to conduct the legal ceremony, this does include the Humanist Society who are strictly atheist and will not include any religious reference whatsoever - they also require a one year membership subscription as a minimum before taking on the clients. I joined the Scottish Pagan Federation a year or so ago but to date have been unable to access information on the status of Pagan celebrants, whether there are authorised individuals or whether they are in the same boat as independents, but I will follow up again.

Civil or independent celebrants who offer non specific spiritual or civil ceremonies but do not align to a particular form of religion are not yet included, primarily because their independent status is felt by government officials to be potentially a risk in cases of potential visa fraud as far as I can tell. These independents (and I am one!) are happy to tailor ceremonies for all rites of passage to fit the beliefs and wishes of the clients, which may include references to deities or be without specific religious content but include a childhood prayer or references to god/spirit etc as required.

SICA only formed a couple of months ago in order to provide a quality-managed series of true independents with insurance, checkable membership etc and we hope to persuade the Scottish government to broaden the legal right to include us. Meantime we can only, as in England, offer the handfasting with either an authorised minister present for that section, or else with a separate registry office ceremony before/after.

Sorry for the diversion from your initial thread, especially as I am new to the forum and the order :oops: but I wanted to clarify the position as I understand it..
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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby Preston » 09 Dec 2011, 10:51

To make it legal, you need to go through the steps to get married in your city/county/state... go to your county clerk's office & get a marriage license and make sure the person performing the handfasting for you is certified to perform marriages in your area. Have them, you and your partner and witnesses sign the marriage license & file it with the county clerk. Generally speaking, the civil government doesn't care what you call it as long as they can call it a marriage. :)

anglenasalt

Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby anglenasalt » 29 Jan 2014, 11:40

The only issue here is that it can lead to further scrutiny if anything else is unusual, since they'll want to be sure it's not a scam to gain citizenship or otherwise play the system. Another common trick in the UK is to separate the religious side from the civil side. Ideally, you get the legal part done either earlier in the day or a few days before / after the 'real' wedding; you can go off to the register office in jeans, sign some paperwork, say some words, then go home legally-married. Sometimes, the registrar will get confused by this (going in casual clothes with only a couple of witnesses can look odd or suspicious), but it is common enough that at least one of their colleagues will have experienced a similar situation.

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Re: Legal handfasting?!

Postby Fire oak » 29 Jan 2014, 11:55

In Ireland it's legal to be married in a humanist ceremony now without any civil ceremony.
Fire Oak

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