Tolkien’s legendarium is extensive. After his death his son Christopher published The History of Middle Earth in twelve volumes. It is in the tenth volume, Morgoth’s Ring, that we get an insight into the love lives of elves. If you’re planning a Lord of the Rings themed wedding, then including elements from the creator of that incredible world could take it to the next level!
We’ll start with their betrothal, or engagement. The vast majority of elves will have chosen their spouse during their youth, that is between 50 and 100 years. Whilst there are a few exceptions, marrying late is generally associated with ‘ill-chances or strange fates’. Unfortunately, this means that everyone’s* favourite elf Legolas is probably considered a wee bit odd given that at the time of Fellowship of the Ring he is the best part of 3000 years old.
The act of betrothal is represented by the exchange of silver rings and a feast! Their betrothal is announced during the feast and both families will meet. They are betrothed for a year before marrying, if at the end of this year they decide they’re not perfect for each other, then the rings are returned to one another. This isn’t too dissimilar to ancient Celtic customs.
Time for the wedding, which of course means more feasting! During this feast the marriage takes places. The couple join hands in a place all their guests can see them (is anyone else imaging a dreamy circular table??) and the parents of the bride join them to bless the marriage. They invoke the names of Manwё and Varda as witnesses to the marriage. That is all we know about the blessings! Tolkien states that no mortal has ever heard these words, and so we shouldn’t either. The silver rings are returned to each other (and are treasured forever) and gold wedding bands are exchanged. These wedding rings are worn on the right index fingers. If you’re Noldorian then the bride’s mother will give the groom a jewel on a chain and the groom’s father will give the bride a jewel on a chain. In another hark back to the old days, the marriage isn’t complete until its consummated.
A few important notes on elven marriage; they are not parted by death; they do not remarry once their spouse has passed away (a certain someone did and it led to the collapse of Noldor). Parents have little to no say about who their kids marry – so Thranduil can cool down about Legolas fancying Tauriel (yes, I know she’s not canon!). But parents can make demands of future kids-in-law like Elrond asked Aragorn to wait until he was King to marry Arwen.
I hope this helps if you’re wanting to add another level of elvish-ness to your wedding. You could host this somewhere like Syon Park Conservatory, the arches give off a Rivendell-esque feel. Or if you’re more of a Mirkwood elf, then you could look at somewhere like Marshwood Manor – or just you local fave wooded spot!
*Thranduil is my favourite elf.