Joni & Jeremy’s medieval handfasting and archery wedding

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Bubble time
Photos by Sanne Bakermans

The Offbeat Bride: Joni, Textile Conservator

Her offbeat partner: Jeremy, Data Centre Manager

Date and location of wedding: Slot Assumburg, Heemskerk, the Netherlands and our backgarden Dirkshorn, The Netherlands — September 7, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We are re-enactors, so a medieval-themed wedding was not such an odd choice for us. However, since we had encouraged the guests to add a medieval touch to their outfit, we added the “fantasy” bit to the theme. This gave people a little more room for creativity and an opportunity to let their imaginations run wild rather than being strictly bound to historical authenticity. To our surprise, everyone came dressed up from head to toe. We even had someone dressed as a monk who shaved his hair in a tonsure for the event!

The happy couple
Slot Assumburg
Getting ready in the morning

Since Jeremy is originally from the USA, we were pleasantly surprised that so many friends and family members made the trip over the Atlantic to be with us. To amuse the (international) guests for the afternoon, we organised an archery workshop followed by a banquet in our back garden.


To finish the day in style, we had a “Balfolk” (Dutch traditional dance) band come and do a dance workshop, in which almost everyone participated. Jeremy even broke out his Viola da Gamba and played a couple of dance tunes along with the band!

A toast

We dressed the garden up with medieval tents, long tables with earthenware plates and goblets, and lots of fires. In order not to have to rent huge amounts of cups for everyone for the feast, we ended up buying goblet-style cups from a food wholesaler which people could bring home as a favour after the party. That did mean they had to keep track of their cup the entire night. I think quite a bit of goblet exchange happened, but it was all good fun! The table runners were also handmade by me, since I found buying a couple of meters of linen was a lot cheaper than buying ready-made table runners.

the altar

Tell us about the ceremony:
We opted for a handfasting ceremony, which is not very common in the Netherlands, and consequently we initially had a bit of trouble finding someone who could perform the ceremony for us. In the end, through the power of Google, I found our officiant, Lunadea, who was not only willing to put together a wonderful personal ceremony for us but also brought an English-speaking friend along. This was important because it allowed us to have the ceremony in both English and Dutch, meaning both our families could follow it. In keeping with both our backgrounds, I did my vows in Dutch while Jeremy spoke them in English.

the altar

Our officiant created a circle around our feet out of red roses and candles. We wanted our witnesses to play an active role in the ceremony, and they were asked to share mead and bread with us with the following words: “As long as we are together may you never go hungry or thirsty.” My sister brought forth our rings. Jeremy and I had both written a little something for each other, which I found incredibly moving. Our hands were fastened with a cord I made out of colour-matched ribbons with charms on the ends.


Our biggest challenge:
Finding an in-style wedding dress was, I think, the biggest challenge. I had decided very early on that I did not want a completely white dress or a dress without sleeves, but that is next to impossible to find in an ordinary shop. I therefore resorted to having a full silk dress made to measure for me in England. In the end, even with traveling to England twice, it was not even that much more expensive than buying a ready-made one. Gill Linley from Frockfollies did an absolutely amazing job!

Horny men

Another challenge we battled was the postal service. Our tarps for the back garden got lost in the mail and only arrived one day before the wedding. Thankfully, not only did we manage to get them up in time, but the weather was on our side with only a few light sprinkles here and there.

LOTR reference

My favorite moment:
The whole ceremony was intensely emotional, but the high point was the words Jeremy spoke to me that day. Seeing the wonderful wedding cake my sister made for us was another very moving moment. I am immensely grateful to her for the effort she put in.

speech father of the bride

My father made a wonderful bilingual speech about how my love for music and strange hobbies and clothes had led us to our wedding choices.

Play by friends

My funniest moment:
My high school friends had prepared a play which told the fairy tale version of how Jeremy and I met, complete with masks and a cardboard box to represent our house. The last line was the perfect ending of this play: “And although a lot changes in life, one thing is certain: the troubadour will collect more chariots and the princess’s hair will change colour again.” Truer words have never been spoken. I laughed so hard my cheeks cramped.


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