LIBERATED couple John and Helen Donson said ‘I do’ in the buff at their Pagan wedding at the weekend.
The pair stripped off to get hitched near Kiln Wood, in the Forest of Dean.
Their wedding at the Pines Naturist Club is the first naturist ‘handfasting’ – a term for a Pagan wedding – in the UK. Handfasting dates back more than 4,500 years.
John, 61, and Helen, 48, met three years ago at the funeral of Helen’s former partner – and John admits it was love at first sight. “As soon as I saw her I knew there was something special there,” he said.
But John, who works for Airbus, was soon to discover Helen’s naturist ways. He said: “She brought me here and I was quite apprehensive about it, but I quickly got used to taking my clothes off and now I love it.”
Helen said: “As a girl my mum would try to get me to put my clothes on but I always used to run around naked.
“I hate clothes. I only wear them as a necessity but can’t wait to get out of them.”
The Pagan ceremony saw John and Helen’s hands tied together. They had to work together to free themselves of the tie without undoing the knot – a symbol that they can work through difficult times together.
They then had to use a blade to slash each other’s hair – John took a lock of Helen’s hair, while Helen, who is a domestic cleaner, took a chunk out of his white beard.
The pair, who hail from Chippenham, in Wiltshire, also said ‘I love you’ in Norwegian.
In one year and one day they will legally marry as Pagan weddings are not recognised in law.
Priest David Abel and priestess Melanie Sopp have a busy year of Pagan weddings – with some 83 bookings this year, including some in the centre of the Stonehenge circle.
Mr Abel, who is a former Methodist minister, said: “I was quite uncomfortable with the thought of conducting a naked ceremony when I was first asked. I thought to myself that my Methodist congregation would have been horrified at the thought of it. But I went along with it and it has been liberating.
“Handfasting is a tradition that dates back at least 4,500 years. People would worship nature such as the Earth, the sky, the stars and the moon.”
It is thought there are up to 200,000 Pagans living in Britain today.