Handfasting Ceremony – the Stonehenge Wedding
Kerry and Derek’s handfasting ceremony at one of the most famous pre-historic monuments in the world, Stonehenge was a truly inspirational shoot. Ever since I was a little girl, and also when I studied a Fine Art Degree at university, I wanted to visit the site. Then, as my career progressed as a professional wedding photographer, it became an ambition of mine to capture a celebration there.
It certainly was a highlight of my career so far and a very proud moment for me as I look back on the 2018 wedding season. A big and sincere thanks to Kerry and Derek for having me as their photographer and I’m so pleased you were happy with my work. It was a delight to capture your special day and to meet your family and close friends.
As a regular visitor to the heritage site, you are not usually allowed inside the circle of the Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. Therefore ceremonies on the World Heritage Site are limited and it was a privilege to be there with my camera and add my small contribution to Kerry and Derek’s day.
Handfasting was common centuries ago in the British Isles. For many people of Pagan faiths, Spring is the time of year for a handfasting ceremony. Kerry and Derek’s ceremony took place on a bright and breezy evening in April. The wedding was in the afternoon in Salisbury and we arrived at Stonehenge shortly before sunset and after ‘official visiting hours’. The Spring daylight was fading and time was limited.
As a photographer, I wanted the best possible conditions for the occasion. As soon as we arrived on site, pretty much every minute was accounted for. We began with a group shots, which I positioned in front of the stones and then Kerry’s made her grand entrance to the stone circle, which took Derek’s breath away. I love those emotional moments…one look for a split second, captured forever in a picture. It’s an old saying I know, but one picture really can paint a thousand words.
“Tying the knot!”
A handfasting ceremony symbolising the couple’s free will to enter into the marriage and the binding of their lives together and the union of their hopes and desires. Not surprisingly it is the origin of the phrase, “tying the knot!” Originally, the handfasting dated back to the ancient Celts and it was more than an act during a wedding ceremony. The entire handfasting used to take place over a year and served as a trial marriage. If at the end of the year, you were still totally in love, you would get married.
Jumping the broom
One of my favourite images of the celebration, saw the happy couple jumping the broom. The broom represents the threshold of the home. It is said this tradition likely originated in medieval Wales. The broom stands for the sweeping away of the old dirt of your past to start fresh. Leaping over the broom symbolises the keeping of a home and jumping over it affirms your willingness to make your home a warm and loving place for one another.
After the formalities, the guests enjoyed some photo time with the newlyweds. Some family group shots followed and I used the stones as a remarkable and unique backdrop.
For the final part of the event, once everybody else left the circle, I had Kerry and Derek’s undivided attention. Hence I could get to work with the couple shots. The archways and how the stones were positioned, all those years ago, gave a unique frame to the photos. The texture of the stones and how they have been blasted by the weather over the years really came through. I loved Kerry’s smile and crisp white dress as a contrast against the ancient stones. Derek’s suit added a great splash of colour to the images while their kiss, captured looking through the stones, is also one of my favourite intimate images from the day.
Finally, the rapidly setting sun was dear to us too. As it dropped, it offered a beautiful warm glow of light and allowed me to position myself. The couple hugged in front of Stonehenge, the sun set to the right and the entire inner circle of stones were included in the shot. Looking at the picture, I enjoy the long grass leading up to the couple and the stones and the sun setting to the right. I like the composition and the picture has a very natural feel. There’s lots of love between the couple in one of the spiritual settings on earth.
Thanks again to Kerry and Derek. I loved being part of your day and it was a true highlight of 2018. I was humbled to read your kind words after you received my pictures and album. Lots of love to you both. Maria x
“Hey Maria I just wanted to send a massive heart felt thank you for being there on our special day. You were wonderful and all the guest thought so too. I’ve loved the photos and our wedding albums. They are amazing, we are so pleased with them. Thank you for everything, Kerry x”.
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