23 June 2023

Glastonbury regulars seal marriage during intimate handfasting ceremony

23 June 2023

A couple from Birmingham, who have been to every Glastonbury for the last nine years and met through music, say they have “finally sealed our marriage” in a hand-tying ceremony at the festival, calling it the “icing on the cake” to their marriage.

Stuart Beauchamp, 49, a finance director, and his wife, Anna Stevens, 44, have been married for four weeks but decided to seal their marriage at a handfasting ceremony, which is an ancient practice that sees couples tie their wrists together with cloth to declare their commitment to each other.

The couple, who have known each other for more than 25 years, said they felt “blessed” to be able to “put our own stamp” on their married life together.

“It was really good. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was amazing,” Ms Stevens told the PA news agency.

Mr Beauchamp added: “It’s sealed our marriage because we’ve only been married for four weeks, so this is officially our honeymoon. It was a great opportunity to do something different and just make us put our own stamp on it.”

Ms Stevens said she felt “quite emotional” after the ceremony.

“We’ve been together for nearly 25 years and we try and come to Glastonbury every year, so this is the icing on the cake,” she said.

The couple, who first met in a Birmingham nightclub in 1998 for the memorial night for DJ Tony De Vit, who died in the same year, have attended the world-famous festival every year over the last decade, which they dub “the best festival of all time”.

“It’s a place to be free and just do what you want… no-one bats an eyelid,” Mr Beauchamp said.

The pair carried out the ceremony in style, fitted in clothing suited for the Day of the Dead festival held in Mexico every year to remember loved ones who have passed away.

Mr Beauchamp was dressed in a black suit with white details, an oversized bowtie and a large, black sombrero, while Ms Stevens donned a black corset with a red skirt, a flower headpiece and a black veil.

“We dressed as Day of the Dead a couple of years back at Glastonbury so we thought it (would) be fitting to do bride and groom Day of the Dead,” Mr Beauchamp said.

The couple were advised by the celebrant to keep the cloth tied around their wrists for as long as possible, but when asked how long they might wear it, Mr Beauchamp joked: “Until she needs a wee.”

The celebrant, Glenda Procter from the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, has been doing handfasting at Glastonbury for more than a decade to offer a personalised and “very intimate” ceremony for couples.

“I think couples truly experience something very intimate, and very personal. And for them this ceremony is all about love,” the 71-year-old told PA.

“Having a hand tie, for many couples, that’s all they need because, actually, nobody can marry them except themselves.

“I say in the ceremony when they sit here that the union is made in their hearts and it’s a union of body, mind and soul.”

Ms Procter began handfasting after becoming a marriage registrar and felt there was “something lacking in a registration ceremony”.

Now, she hosts proposals, ceremonies and creates a space for couples to declare their commitment where many become overwhelmed with emotions.

“All sorts of things happen at Glastonbury and it’s a very special place for couples,” she said.

“My first ceremony here was a couple that had been married five days, so for them, this was what meant the most to them.”

Ms Procter also spoke of a “remarkable” and intimate ceremony between a couple in their 70s who completed their handfasting ceremony with “no guests, no witnesses, just the two of them”.

“They said their vows and their pledges and for them that was all they needed to have that surety that they would not be abandoned, that they were together forever,” she said.

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