Published: Friday, Sep. 4th, 2020
As we move into fall, there’s one day calling like a whisper in the woods, beckoning the spiritual and spookier-minded among us… October 31st. Also known as Halloween, or in pagan traditions, Samhain.
On one hand, it’s a day that’s drenched in sticky fake blood and body paint, draped in vintage lace, velvet capes, and spider webs. All across the country, in rickety, shadow-filled bell towers (and cozy suburban living rooms), superheroes, ghosts, zombies and other creatures get ready for sinister tricks and treats, or settle in for midnight movie marathons.
But for many others, this day holds a deep spiritual significance. It’s a night when the boundary between this world and the next is at its thinnest, offering the living a chance to connect with the souls of their ancestors, honor their deceased loved ones, and celebrate new life.
So if this aesthetic appeals to you, or a couple that’s asked you to officiate, how do you know which style of wedding to choose and how to prepare?
This is alway good advice. As you know, every couple’s story is unique. And that’s what you want the ceremony’s introduction to capture… a story! The right questions will get you there.
If you are writing the ceremony, ask about the day’s significance and whether it holds a religious or spiritual meaning for the couple. But don’t stop there… ask how they usually celebrate the day and what aspect of that personal connection they want to communicate to family and guests. Ask them to describe a memorable moment from a past season, and how they hope memories of this day will support them as they start their new chapter.
Let their answers lead you to the story!
For pagan and wiccan couples honoring Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’), the night marks the Feast of the Dead and the old Celtic New Year. Because modern Pagans accept death as a natural and necessary part of the life cycle, as welcome as birth, it can be a festive celebration.
Ancient Samhain festivals involved large bonfires, asking the spirits of dead loved ones to join in a bountiful harvest feast, honoring the end of a phase in life, looking toward the future, and welcoming children born during the year into the community.
Take the couple’s lead, asking more questions as they come up, and do your research. A brief rehearsal to run through each step ahead of time is important for when it comes to ceremonies and rituals that are unfamiliar.
Interestingly, ancient Celts often wore costumes on Samhain, including animal heads and skins, which inspired our modern concept of Halloween.
(See one of our favorite Celtic-inspired Halloween weddings on our Wedding Wall.)
Western Halloween Themed Ceremonies
Other couples choose the day because they met at a Halloween party, or want to give a nerdy nod to a shared love of horror classics and noir sensibilities. In this case, you might want to stream some vintage Nosferatu or Night of the Living Dead to get in the mood…
(See one of our favorite zombie/"The Walking Dead" themed weddings on our Wedding Wall.)
Most couples will still want their holiday wedding to feel like a wedding, regardless of the calendar date. Start with a classic ceremony script. Writing a heartfelt ceremony that also embraces the whimsy of the day is easiest when you start with a strong foundation and then customize it to suit the couple.
The couple might bring you meaningful quotes or pop-culture references, suggest a campier tone, or write personalized vows that pull inspiration from classic monster flicks. Weaving these colorful pieces into an existing script will be a lot less stressful than starting from scratch!
Prepare for Unusual Settings
Some Halloween and Samhain weddings take place in conventional wedding venues, but with new venue restrictions resulting from the pandemic, and the nature of the holiday, couples may ask you to help them get… creative.
Whether the ceremony’s set in a graveyard or cemetery, an old barn, dark forest, covered bridge, or historic ghost town, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Make sure you have permission to use the space. Plan for parking or hiking in, staying overnight if needed, and be sure to find alternate routes for arriving and returning. As the season changes, many outdoor ceremonies will need to accommodate unexpected weather. Bring extra layers of clothing and a change of shoes. And don’t forget a flashlight!
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