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Add Magic to Your Second Ceremony with a ‘Year and a Day’ Handfasting

Published Thursday, Sep. 30th, 2021

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

With all the excitement over sequel weddings this season, it’s enchanting to learn that second ceremonies like these have been around since before Medieval times...

Today’s sequel weddings are larger second ceremonies that follow a smaller first wedding or elopement, and they’re a welcome solution to many limitations created by the coronavirus pandemic. Couples can get married quickly, without much hassle and only a few special guests, and then celebrate later in style with all their friends and family, when gathering in large groups carries fewer risks.


These romantic two-part wedding celebrations certainly seem custom-made for our modern wedding woes, but they actually echo a beautiful tradition from centuries ago that found its start in the misty hills of the British Isles… 


The ‘Year and a Day’ handfasting ritual ! 


‘ A Year and a Day’ 


Long ago, in the days when Druid priests constructed towering stone altars under the stars, and magic and nature were inseparable forces that guided the course of daily life, celebrations of love followed the turning of the seasons. 


Folklore says that during the spring and fall holidays (Beltane in May; and Lughnasadh or Lammas in August), young couples pledged their love in small outdoor handfasting ceremonies, presided over by spirits and blessed by the gods of the natural world. 


If their love was true, and it survived a full turn of the ‘wheel,’ they returned to the same location exactly one year and one day later, for a second formal ceremony to make their marriage permanent. 


This second ceremony was more elaborate than the first, and the happy couple was joined by large crowds of friends and family. The parties that followed the ritual were big, noisy, and joyful, and lasted long into the night -- as Pagan parties are well known to do! 



Illustration shows a young couple in their second wedding ceremony, a sequel wedding, inspired by the Celtic Pagan Year and a Day traditional handfasting

Handfasting can be added to non religious or religious ceremonies of any kind, 

and adapted to any season or personal style.

When choosing a ribbon, pick colors that are special to you. 




Plan a Sequel Wedding with inspiration from the past


It’s easy to see the parallels between this ancient custom and today’s sequel ceremonies, and to see why breaking weddings into two parts is so appealing to couples of all ages -- and all eras.


In fact, Modern Wiccans and Druids have practiced the Year and a Day handfasting ritual for decades to honor engagements and betrothals… and they still do! 


To add the magic of the Year and a Day custom to your own sequel wedding, follow these simple suggestions: 



  • If possible, plan on having two ceremonies from the start.

This will make it easier for you and your wedding officiant to create two unique ceremonies that will compliment each other.  


  • Schedule your second ceremony for a meaningful day.

Anniversaries, holidays, and personal milestones are all favorite times to hold a second ceremony. Or keep it old school, and plan for one year and one day after your first set of vows! 


  • Sign your marriage license at your first ceremony.

If you want your first ceremony to be a legal wedding, make sure you follow the requirements in your state to apply for, sign, and file a marriage license. 


  • Add a handfasting to your ceremony or elopement.

This beautiful tradition can be personalized to suit any style of ceremony -- non religious, religious, interfaith, spiritual, and anything in between -- and can take the place of the ring exchange in a first or second ceremony. 


  • Ask friends and family to sign a commemorative marriage certificate at your second ceremony.

Technically, your second wedding ceremony will be a vow renewal and won’t require any paperwork, but you can honor the milestone by asking guests to sign a decorative certificate. 


For more inspiration read: 









Go to More ‘how to’ articles on Handfasting



New handfasting guide!

Cover image of the Handfasting book, reads: Handfasting : From Ancient Rituals to Modern Ceremonies, with a dark blue background, stars, and two hands clasped with a handfasting ribbon, light by the moonExplore the origins of ancient Paganism and learn how to incorporate the magic of handfasting into your own wedding or commitment ceremony.


This deep dive into one of the most exciting trends in weddings is inspired by love stories that reach far back into the misty origins of human history, when Druids and Priestesses dispensed esoteric wisdom, cast powerful spells, and magic and nature were one-and-the-same.


Written and illustrated by AMM’s own Jessica Levey, this book is full of whimsical illustrations, and carefully researched and crafted stories and imagery that are your ticket to your own adventure.



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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