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On 21st December, at 22:23 GMT, after a short, swift courtship, the following question was asked in the chatterbox:

wertperch gets down on one knee
<wertperch> Will you marry me, Christine?

A moment later, came the response:

<grundoon> Why, yes, I b'lieve I will.
wertperch grins like a fool, and cries some, too




Yes, Christine and Kevin together in London!

Scope grundoon from head to toe (make sure she measures up for the wert -g) and share our joy with us! Drink, dance and be merry, it's a celebration!


The Ceremony and Aftermath

On 21st December 2004 I publicly proposed to Christine, and was delighted that she accepted. As our betrothal was public, so we want to share a celebration and declaration of our bond with as many as possible. To this end, we plan to hold a handfasting ceremony on 5th February 2005 on Hampstead Heath, North London, at the conclusion of which we will jump the broomstick. (It's also my birthday, as I realised only after setting the date!)

The ceremony will begin at 1 o'clock sharp, on Pirate's Hill, the tree-ringed tumulus near Parliament Hill. All are cordially invited.

Bear in mind that it will be outside, in February. It is likely to be chilly, and possibly on the damp side. So bring warm clothes, a brolly, and be prepared to huddle together for warmth. There will be plus points for anyone who has the foresight to bring a thermos of tea or coffee. (Or a hip flask full of scotch. We're easy. -g) And possibly hugs.


Getting There

To get there, best bet seems to be the Northern Line tube to Belsize Park, turn right out of the station and walk up Heverstock Lane, then right onto Pond Street. A left onto South End Road, then right to South Hill Park and fork right for Parliament Hill. The map above gives visuals. You might also consider the tube to Kentish Town. That said, I went from Hampstead Heath tube station, and it's about 8 minutes to the pub, and another 10 to the Heath.

Alternative routes include the overground Silverlink, which goes to West Hampstead and Hampstead Heath - see http://www.silverlink-trains.com, and timetable.

Whichever way you go, it's about a ten or fifteen minute walk to the ceremony location. Having visited the area and taken photos of the pub and the hill, I'd advise you not to wear your bestest shoes - it is almost certain to be muddy! These photos are now available online at http://www.wertperch.co.uk/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=handfasting

There will be people stationed near the pub until 1250, to guide you to the ceremony. Please don't bother ringing me after that though, as my phone will be off!

It's a britnodermeet, where's the beer?

Yes, I know, it's traditional. We're British, damnit, there has to be a pub involved. Well, how about TWO pubs? After the ceremony, we can meet up in the Freemason's Arms, where drinks of all sorts, and food will be found. You'll find a map to the pub. In fact, there's a good chance that Christine and I will be there beforehand, from about midday.

There will also be a gathering in the infamous Penderel's Oak (directions in the node), beginning at around 1900 hours. That's 7pm. Or when the big hand is on the...oh, never mind. Note that the happy couple will arrive at about 8, and may well be leaving early.

If you have any questions, send me a message, or call my mobile. (Don't be too surprised if I don't answer the phone myself on the day, I may have a secretary for that!)




FAQ

  • Q: I'm not a pagan/would not attend a pagan ceremony.
    A: Don't worry - you can stand outside the circle and not join in the ceremony, we'd still like you to be there. It's not like there will be a requirement to dance naked. Alternatively, join us later in either pub gathering!

  • Q: That's all very well, but they do weird stuff, them pagans.
    A: It's just a ceremony, blessing what is effectively an engagement. We invoke the elements and call for blessings. Simple. No dark robes or gothic lightning storms. At least, we hope the weather will bless us!

  • Q: I would love to attend, but have nowhere to stay in London.
    A: Don't worry, you won't be alone. Inexpensive hotel/hostel accommodation is easy to find. Then there's Ashlee House, from £13 a night. If you need crash space though, just let me know!

  • Q: I need help to get there, being both poor and without transport.
    A: Again, anyone travelling by car and willing to offer lifts, please let me know - I'll list you here, or try and pair you up.

  • Q: I won't know anyone there, I'll be all uncomfortable!
    A: Well, whaddya know. Christine and I met on the internet, on a writer's collaborative collective community database not a million miles away from you now, and became friends easily enough in real life. If you feel you don't know anyone, give me a ring, that way it won't feel so strange when we do meet.

  • Q: Why are there no actual questions in this FAQ? I thought FAQ meant "Frequently Asked Questions"!
    A: Oooh, picky, aren't we! Well, that's just the way it is, people.

  • Q: What about the dress code? What should I wear?
    A: Given the shell suits I've seen worn at some weddings, I doubt you could do worse. Be comfortable, it's not a formal "do", it's a celebration of life, love and spirit. Although it will be chilly, possibly, so wear a big coat.

  • Q: What about a wedding gift?
    A: No need. If anything, we are trying to cut down on possessions, so just bring yourselves!

  • Q: What about the reception?
    A: Like many people, we're on a budget, so the "reception" is the usual "drinks and meal in the pub" that is the traditional British nodermeet manner.

  • Q: I can't make it that day, will we get to meet with you?
    A: Hard to say. We will be spending a week travelling, so it's just possible we may visit you!

  • Q: Will there be another wedding?
    A: There is going to be a similar gathering in the US, West Coast, on or about May 1, so you don't have to fly to the UK to be part of it... -g



Help!

Please also see notes for the day, at Christine and Kevin's Handfasting Notes.




Those confirming so far:

The hopefuls:

Those unable to attend:

  • StrawberryFrog (away in furrin places)
  • SharQ (still in furrin climes)
  • Siobhan (stuck in Switzerland, of all places)
  • Tiefling (off somewhere better)
  • Berek
  • Heisenberg
  • borgo - "I hope you know I'll be there in spirit..."
  • Laura Elizabeth - "I'd give anything to be there, but I'll be with you in spirit."
  • Palpz - "sorry I won't be able to make it, stuck in basic training at the time. I hear they'll shoot me if I try to leave."
  • Cletus the Foetus - "I won't be able to come but I really wish you both the best of luck with it, I'm happy for both of you."
  • themanwho - "I'd *really* love to come, but it appears my professors would like me studying for exams around then
  • jack - "Unless you're a miracle worker of a very particular sort (teleportation, etc) I'm going to have to wish you both extremely well from afar."
  • exceptinsects - "I wish I could come, but I'll wish you happy from sunny CA instead!"
  • Siouxsie - "You know that I will be with you in spirit."
  • junkill - "Wish I could make it to the big handfast! Unfortunately, barring inheriting an aeroplane from a long lost relative (grin) I'll be drinkin' one to you though!"
  • gwenllian -"ooooh, I wish we could come :( I'm thinking it's not in the cards though..."
  • indigoe -"can't make it to north london, unfortunately, but you know you've got a place to stay in north texas anytime:)"
  • The Big See - "a tentative maybe, alas. But mazel tov, in any case."
  • drownzsurf - "Put me down as a not able to attend, but only physically, too."
  • olmanrvr - "wish I could make it, but well, the big pond stands in the way...congrats again."
  • Maylith -"May the Lady bless you both at your handfasting! I'll be there in spirit."
  • Dawggy and Harmony - "we want to wish you and your sweetheart nothing but the BEST!!!! We would attend if we had the funds to...but we will be there with you all in spirit."
  • Great Neb - "ironically I am back in london that weekend for my 21st birthday celebrations"
  • siouxsie - "I wish I could come to both, but I can pretty much promise I can't make the London one"
  • skybluefusion - "If I had the money to travel to London I'd be there in a heartbeat!"
  • JoeBaldwin - "due to various constraints I will not be able to attend the nodermeet. Congratulations all the same."
  • auduster - "I am very grateful for the invitavtion..."
  • toalight - "I wouldn't get to have a snoring competition with you in Louise's living room anyway, so it's okay I guess."
  • haruspex
  • graceness - "I cannot come as I will be recovering from surgery, but know I send you my blessings and best wishes."
  • stupot and shimmer - "Unfortunately we are at a wedding in London that day. We were hoping to get to both but the wedding is in Wandsworth at 2...we'll be thinking about you both."
  • LSK - "I won't be able to make it I'm afraid, but I'd like to wish you all the best for the future!"
  • Redalien - "*plays student sympathy card* I hope you have a great day though!"
  • momomom -"Time not money is the brake."
  • RoguePoet - "Truly wish I could be there, but the ocean is wide, and I'm not much of a swimmer. Best o' luck to yahs."
  • Sui - "Frickin universe and It's frikin temporal 'being in one place at one time' rubbish"
  • crewgrrl - "Mazal Tov! sorry I can't come (poor college student and all that), also it's on a Saturday. But, of course, I wish the two of you all the best. Much love, happiness, warmth, health, and friendship."
  • K9

Last-Minute Updates

The circle line is out of action all weekend and restrictions on other lines, due to engineering work. Check before you travel, at http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk

Here’s something I should have said:

Many of us here came to know Kevin and Christine through a website called E2. Because writing is a major part of the E2 experience, it is perhaps natural that many of us feel more at home with the written word than the spoken word. Nevertheless, none of us would want to let this moment pass without giving voice to our feelings and hopes and prayers for Kevin and Christine.

Christine, I hope you will forgive me for talking about Kevin for a moment.

Kevin, you once told me that you were surprised at how people have wanted to give so much of their time and skills to make this ceremony so enjoyable. I doubt that any one of us, your friends, is at all surprised. You are the most loved of people. You are a real man in every sense of the word. You are a rock when people need support. You are a shoulder when they need to cry. You will give a hug when it is needed, You will tease and laugh when people take themselves too seriously.

You are one of those rare men who is at home with his body and his emotions. There are few men prepared to be so physical and demonstrative as you, and few who so readily show their emotions through tears and laughter. You have made friends with old men, young men, young women and older women. You have the gift of making every one of your friends feel special. You make the effort to call and talk when lesser men might stand by and let friendship take second place to the minutiae of daily life.

I think I speak for many of here when I say that it has been a real privilege to know you and to witness this beautiful ceremony and enjoy your company once more.

Christine. Many of us are meeting you today for the first time in the flesh. But we already know you through photographs and, above all, your words. Your spirit shines through in your writing. You told us about your bionic knees on the Appalachian trail. You told us how you have been taken by a storm of emotions. How life has changed for you. And we wept with joy as we read it.

Despite some hectic times; despite jet lag, despite all the responsibilities of being a mother to Tessie, you are here and you are radiant. We have all been delighted to find that you are just as beautiful in person as you are in spirit.

The love and joy and sense of fun that radiates from you tells us that Kevin has made the best of choices. And if we needed anything to confirm it, we just have to look at you. The two of you, when you are together look as if you were made for each other and have known it since time began.

It is rare in this world to see two such wonderful people so much in love. Sometimes we see teenagers who say they are in love, but yours is not this simple love. You have both known pain; you have both known joy. Today we see how respect and friendship and joy come together to make love.

The poets say "The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings." You both are blessed with the love to give and you give it to each other and let it take flight to your friends.

So let me finally propose a toast to Kevin and Christine, and to Tessie with the very best of wishes from all of us. We hope your union, celebrated here today, will be full of the best kind of love, physical love; emotional love and that you each give wings to your love for each other and for your friends. We hope for the best of health, the best of life and the best of futures to the three of you, for as long as you all shall live.

This was written by wrinkly, but he says it was written for wertperch and grundoon and for everyone who attended the handfasting. It sums up how many of us felt.

Honoured as we all were to have been invited to share in the joy and love that was Wertperch and Grundoon's handfasting ceremony, it was not without a little trepidation that I approached the wonderful Freemason's Arms on the brisk, but dry and sunny morning of February 5th, 2005.

The reactions of my friends and family on hearing that, not only was I going to the UK to celebrate the union of two people I had never met in person before, but that it was also to be a pagan ceremony, were mixed and quite humourous. Many were convinced that a Pagan ceremony meant that everyone attending would have to be naked. And let's face it, who wants to stand around, outside, in the UK in February with a bunch of naked geeks?

But I trusted Wertie's assurances that there would be no nudity involved. In fact, all those that attended were particularly well dressed (for a bunch of geeks). Grundoon was radiant in a long, lilac velvet dress and wine-coloured cardigan & velvet scarf. While Wertperch sported a warm & colourful knitted cardigan which seemed to reflect the warmth, comfort and variety that their life together is sure to hold. Pandora and Wiccanpiper (the co-celebrants) were also appropriately attired for the occasion; Pandora in a floating blue skirt & grey shawl, and wearing her hair up, bedecked with tiny white flowers, befitting a priestess (although La Petite Mort was a little worried that she would catch her death of cold). Wiccanpiper was also dashing in a striking emerald-green billowing shirt.

Before the ceremony, we all met for a pre-handfasting libation and quick introductions at the welcoming Freemason's Arms pub. Princess loulou's extraordinary honey cake soothed away any ghosts of Saturday morning hangovers that were trying to invite themselves to the celebrations.

The procession of over thirty noders and well-wishers that made their way through Hampstead Heath to the tumulus, (the wisely chosen, sacred site at which the ceremony was to be held) was most impressive. On arriving at the tumulus itself, a grassy clearing between three groups of trees, on a hill in the middle of the huge park that is Hampstead Heath in north London, all those in attendance formed a circle around a small altar. Ably led by Pandora and Wiccanpiper, we then separated into an inner and an outer circle, according to our preferred level of participation in the ceremony itself. The circles were blessed, and the corners were called. This involved the invoking of the blessings of the four elements, wind, water, earth and fire. Heyoka, Gnarl, princess loulou and Lady_Day kindly assisted in invoking the blessings of the elements on the happy couple during this part of the ceremony, and offered gifts of water, fire ( a candleflame), wind (a fan) and a small rose-bush (earth) in thanks to the gods.

There was a blessing given to the Happy couple, who then exchanged very touching vows and declarations of love & intention which they had written themselves. Unfortunately, Christine was standing with her back to me, and with her soft-spoken voice and the wind on the Heath, I couldn't make out her vows too clearly. But I am sure, if Kevin's are anything to go by, that they were equally as beautiful and inspirational. It was indeed an honour to witness their love and happiness. And I would like to thank them both (as I'm sure would all who attended the celebration) for inviting us to share in their happiness and warmth. Tessie (Christine's daughter)'s permission was sought before the union could be officially blessed. She warmly accepted Kevin into her family, and played her part in making this happy occasion possible.

After vows were exchanged and the happy couple were officially handfasted, they signified their crossing over into their new life together by jumping the broomstick. Meanwhile, the thoughtful and well-prepared Spiregrain refreshed us all with some delicious, warm, mulled cider. After some quick photo opportunities and a beautiful group portrait on the tumulus, we trundled back down through the Heath with the absolutely radiant couple, and re-grouped in the marquee at the back of the Freemasons Arms for speeches, blessings, cake-cutting, toasts to the future happiness of our friends, and general drinking & noder-gossiping.

Much wine, beer and oven-fired pizza set us up for the long day of celebrations to follow. Wertperch gave a beautiful speech showing his & Christine's appreciation for all those sharing in their joy and wishing them well. Wrinkly made what is sure to be a very touching tribute to Kevin & Christine; a video, in which he interviewed all willing guests as to how they met the happy couple & their wishes for them on the very special day of their handfasting. StrawberryFrog rang with best wishes from South Africa. Kevin and Christine cut the beautiful wedding cake that TheLady made for the occasion, in which we all shared. TheLady and The Debutante bestowed a traditional Jewish Blessing on the Happy Couple's union. TheLady read the blessing in Hebrew while The Debutante read the English translation. It was a lovely sentiment, and very much appreciated by all.

Around 3pm, Wertperch and Grundoon slipped out to go and "rest" for a couple of hours before the evening proceedings and Britnoder-meet part of proceedings commenced. Many London-based noders used this as their opportunity to slip away and freshen up, too, while the foreigners and the hardcore Britnoders continued drinking and went on an expedition en-masse through the London underground to reach Penderel's Oak at around 7pm. More drinking followed here, in anticipation of the happy couple's return. Mr & Mrs. Wertperch did, in fact, return at around 9pm, for more congratulatory drinking and toasting. However, someone failed to warn this trusting noder that English pubs close at 11pm, and not 12, like back home, and, much to my dismay and disappointment, i found myself drinkless in London. But La Petite Mort soon got on the case, and rustled up the troops to move on for further libation. Indeed, from what I hear, herself & Wiccanpiper showed their true colours singing show tunes at 3am in Trafalgar Square!

All in all, it was a very beautiful celebration of what is sure to be a very happy and harmonius union. And that a bright and shining future was wished for Wertperch and Grundoon together was the overall feeling that enveloped the days celebrations. It was a wonderful day, which I and many others I am sure, felt proud and blessed to be a part of. Thank you very much Kevin and Christine, and I'm sure I speak for all of us on E2 when I wish you every happiness and good wish for the future.

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