Guest Post: The Reason behind the Flood of Harry Potter Themed Weddings

A Guest Post from David Martin!

As we enter June, the traditional month for weddings, let’s take a moment to consider Harry Potter themed weddings and what their popularity may indicate.

First of all, Harry Potter themed weddings are really popular.  To get an idea of their popularity, try the following search into Google: “Harry Potter themed wedding” (Please note that the quote marks are necessary so that we get only hits that use exactly those four words in exactly that order.) 

I did that search just now and got 657,000 hits.  That’s a lot.  I’ve been impressed by some of the hits.  Here are a few of my favorites:

So, why are such weddings so popular?  A few reasons are obvious. 

  • Most of the people getting married just now are part of the Harry Potter generation.  They were raised on Harry Potter books and films. 
  • Further, in some of these cases, a shared love of the Harry Potter books was one of the things that drew the couple together in their courtship.  (See examples 1, 2, and 3 above.) 
  • Also, though it is easy to miss while we’re looking at things such as the hero’s journey and ring structure, there are several good love stories in the Harry Potter novels: Hermione and Ron, Ginny and Harry, Bill and Fleur, and the failed love of Snape and Lily. 
  • Finally, a wedding, especially a reception, is a party.  We always bring to a party the things we love: friends, cake, wine, music, and perhaps reminders of our favorite books.

But I suspect that there is another deeper, unspoken and perhaps unrecognized reason beyond these obvious reasons, that may apply for some couples.  If we review examples 1 through 6 above, there is something missing: In none of these weddings was the officiant a clergy person.  (True, the officiant in example #3 calls herself “Reverend D” but a quick look at her website shows that the only license she has is from the city of New York as a wedding officiant.)  None of these weddings was done in a church, a synagogue, or a temple.  In particular:

  • In example #1, the couple had a civil wedding.
  • In example #2, the officiant was a friend.
  • In example #3, as just noted, the officiant was an NYC wedding officiant.
  • In example #4, the couple had what they called “a humanistic wedding.”
  • In example #5, I can find no mention of an officiant, even after searching through other news stories about this wedding.
  • In example #6, the officiant was a friend of the bride.

These couples appear not to be particularly religious or to be currently affiliated with a house of worship. (Yes, I chose these examples deliberately to make a point.  There are also Harry Potter themed weddings that are in a church and where the officiant is a clergyman.  See, for example, .)

If we look at how couples use themes from Harry Potter in their ceremonies, it’s not all chocolate frogs and flying letters.  These couples are serious.  Some couples clasp hands, and then, while the officiant holds a wand over their joined hands, the couple makes an unbreakable vow. 

For some couples, in response to the officiant’s traditional wedding question that begins with “Will you have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live …” they answer not with the traditional “I will” but with the single, potent word “Always.”  And sometimes at the end the officiant declares the couple “bonded for life.”  These are serious weddings.

I believe what we have here is an example of John Granger’s Eliade hypothesis, as captured in the quote from Mircea Eliade: “Reading [in a secular culture] serves a mythological function.”  I believe that these couples involve Harry Potter in their weddings because they sense that they are involved in something sacred, something mythological, and, not being actively involved with a traditional religion, the Harry Potter novels are their strongest experience with the transcendent.

I’m a member of a church on a main highway in a “nice” suburb of Philadelphia.  We regularly get inquiries from people who ask about using our church for weddings and funerals.  Also, sometimes, about baptisms.  Those seem to be the three ties which are the last to break as people pull away from the church: baptisms, weddings, and funerals.  When confronting the wonder of new life, the ecstasy of love, and the mystery of death, people sense that they are dealing with the numinous.  Then they sometimes want the support of faith.  So in the context of what I have written above, this raises an obvious question: Are people involving Harry Potter in those other big events, birth and death?  Actually, they are.

The use of Harry Potter to celebrate new life is easiest to document.  Just search for “Harry Potter”   “birth announcement” (Again, for best results, place the quote marks as shown.)  When I did that search just now I got 5,380,000 hits.  There are more millions of hits if we change that search slightly and look for “pregnancy announcement” or “baby shower.”  Clearly many people are involving Harry Potter in the celebration of the birth of a child.

Funerals are a very different matter.  People don’t often have “themed” funerals.  Yet, remarkably, I found three funerals that are described exactly that way: Harry Potter themed funerals.

More often, however, Harry Potter shows up in connection with funerals indirectly.  The web site collects obituary notices from many different newspapers.  Doing this Google search “Harry Potter” searches for all occurrences of the words “Harry Potter.”  Doing that search just now, I got 3,800 hits.  The obituaries found by this search report, for example, that the deceased loved the Harry Potter novels, or that perhaps the deceased took the grandchildren to one of the Harry Potter theme parks.  Apparently someone thought that this was an important thing to have recorded about the deceased.  I also suspect that some of the well-known quotes about death from the Harry Potter novels (e.g., “You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us?”) show up in a lot of eulogies. 

Just children’s books?  Not really.  But we knew that already.

We human beings are intrinsically religious creatures, with a spiritual nature that will, sooner or later, express itself.  May we have the imagination to recognize it when it appears.

[All pictures used in this post can be found with many others at ’30 Awesome Harry Potter Wedding Ideas’ at]


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