Jennifer Johnston Crow

Minister ID: 611569-348212 View Ordination Certificate

Beach Wedding With Handfasting Ritual

The Wedding of Heather Byrd & Neal Wilson

Officiated by Jennifer Johnston Crow at Holden Beach in Holden Beach, North Carolina on July 1st, 2021.


"What a lovely venue -- toes in the sand, a slowly setting sun, strains of a cello and violin, and a couple whose love shone brightly throughout. This was hands down one of the most authentic, natural weddings I've experienced. Heather and Neal prepared their own vows filled with personal relevance and heartfelt sentiments. The handfasting included ribbons and fabrics brought forward by the bride's daughters, brother and mother, and the groom's brother and sister-in-law, and capped off with a contribution snipped from the groom's mother's own wedding dress. Such an outpouring of meaning into this simple yet elegant ritual. A handfasting is such a lovely way to tie the knot, literally. And the setting? Oh, what's not to love?"

Jennifer Johnston Crow


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Heather Byrd And Neal Wilson’s Wedding Wedding Ceremony Script


Family and Friends: Welcome! Today marks the day that Heather and Neal make their commitment official. Each of you has been a special part of their lives, and now you’re part of this day, where we gather in celebration. The good times and memories will be ones they – and you – can cherish for years to come.

Heather and Neal: You have had the chance to experience your lives together. No doubt there have been bumps along the way – life IS life after all – and as a result, you have learned what it means to love and trust and honor one another. You have learned what it means to become a committed couple. Getting married today is only one small quick step toward the meaning of true marriage.

Marriage isn’t simply putting on a beautiful dress or a nice suit. It isn't about having a big party, celebrating with friends and family. Yes, all of those things are what a wedding is about, but marriage … well, marriage is about far more.

It’s about how you continue to learn that living together is not just two separate lives, but making a commitment to live those two separate lives as part of one complete life as well. It means continually moving forward and working toward the success of you as a couple and of your family.

Let nothing stand in the way of your marriage. The success of it rests upon both of you. To honor one another, to be a loving and supporting parent and partner, to support one another’s ambitions, and to be nurturing, loving pillars of your family.

I know from talking with Heather and Neal that both find themselves uniquely matched. Opposites in many ways, yet so much stronger as a result.

Neal talked of how Heather complements him in many contexts. Her “Doer” nature dovetails nicely with his “Thinker” nature, he said, and Heather serves as the “action” person he needs to help him move out of thinking mode. He loves that she’s selfless and considerate, because he recognizes he can be very linear and miss some cues. She reminds him of what's important and what matters most to him.

Neal, I quote what you said about your first meeting: “No one else made me feel “wow, that was some conversation! The connection was definitely there. What I now know I value is how she sees the world differently and acts differently … and how she gets me to see things other than how I normally do. I love sharing things with her to see what she thinks about things. Great perspectives!”

Heather talked of how Neal is a perfect match for her. He pulls her back down to a more centered place and offers an amazing sense of comfort. She says his goodness and authenticity shine brightly, making her trust him to hold the kite string, which lets her fly ... but safely.

Heather, I quote what you said about your first meeting: “Connection was immediately there and I loved what I saw. What I now know I value are my favorite qualities: he’s thoughtful and intelligent, witty and tender. He's handsome! I’ve never met a man with more goodness about him. He’s a great stepfather and we have the best conversations. I don’t think I want to talk to anyone else but him!”

Heather and Neal, I hope that you always navigate change AND constancy by talking through things. Continue to center and ground one another and know this: THAT is your superpower. You have such a wonderfully strong, balanced, symbiotic relationship.

May you continue to build and grow these strengths and continually discover one another, knowing that those day-to-day experiences are among life’s greatest adventures and treasures.

So. Are you ready to do this?

Friends and Family, are you all ready to witness this?

Then let’s do this!

VOWS: Neal and Heather prepared their own vows.


Rings are made of precious metal, but that same metal is also made precious by wearing them. Your wedding rings are special because they enhance who you are. They mark the beginning of your long journey together. Your wedding ring is a circle, a symbol of love that is never ending. It is the seal of the vows you have just taken to love each other without end.

Please repeat after me:

By placing this ring on your finger, I do this as a sign of my love.

Know that I have chosen you above all else.


Neal and Heather will use an ancient Celtic rite called “handfasting,” which is actually the origin of the phrase, "tying the knot." It's an age-old symbol of strength and love, of continued commitment and steady devotion that beautifully illustrates the belief that together the couple will meet challenges they could never meet alone.

A wedding is largely about symbols. Symbols are important and helpful because they make an idea and a value concrete and physical – something we can see and touch. Symbols serve as a powerful reminder of a time and a place and a memory – a feeling and even a promise – that may fade over time.

Handfasting is a symbol like this. It’s one of the world’s oldest wedding traditions and it’s found in cultures all over the world. In joining hands, Heather and Neal symbolize how they freely offer their lives to one another.

In fastening their hands together, the fabric symbolizes how Neal and Heather leave this place today with lives now bound together. How after today, an idea of two stories come together and two sets of hopes, desires, and dreams for the future are joined in commitment and intention.

Heather and Neal, as I fasten your hands together and as you tie this knot yourselves, I invite you to reflect on the joy and responsibility that await you. From today, being bound together in the commitment and intention of marriage means that each of you becomes a lifelong, safe place to love and to be loved by the other.

As you gently pull your right hands back toward you, at the same time pull the cords with your left hands to tie the knot yourselves.

Neal and Heather: may you know and feel and always remember that together in this marriage, you are each deeply known and deeply loved.


Now, with great joy in front of your friends and family, and by the authority given to me by the State of North Carolina, I now pronounce you husband and wife! May this handfasting knot continue to strengthen the love you already share.

I invite you to seal this ceremony with your first official kiss as a married couple.


It’s a pleasure for me to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Neal and Heather Wilson.


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