A Handfasting ceremony is a traditional marriage custom and attributed to be where the phrase ‘tying the knot comes from’. Believed by many to be a Pagan ritual, handfasting ceremonies are commonly used in many wedding ceremonies regardless of the belief and lifestyle of the couple.
Many religions and spiritual beliefs have a form of handfasting. The traditions of the handfasting ceremony vary as do the beliefs behind the history of them. Some beliefs state the couple were to live together for a year and a day. After the time had passed, they either married or went their separate ways if they decided they couldn’t live together.
What is handfasting?
Originally a ceremony of agreed union arranged by two families, handfasting ceremonies can be done many different ways by anyone who is interested in having one to mark and seal their union, regardless of a belief. There isn’t a specific way to perform them, nor does it matter who claims to have invented them. All that matters is the relevance to those the ceremony is for.
Handfasting is an important ceremony for Pagan couples who prefer to use traditional braided cords rather than individual ribbons. Non-Pagan couples also choose to have a handfasting ceremonies. For those having a traditional church wedding, handfasting can also be incorporated into their ceremony. Prince William and Kate Middleton had a small handfasting during their wedding ceremony.
Any materials such as ribbons, cords, lace, leather or many more can be used for handfasting. It is personal a preference for those involved. Some have used clothing from departed relatives or lace from a grandmother’s wedding veil. One couple used the tie of the bride’s father who died, and this was a very emotional ceremony which included her father within it.
Themed handfasting ribbons and cords
Handfasting cords or ribbons can also be themed if you have a specific requirement. Christmas or Yule colours, Halloween colours, autumnal colours, bright festival colours, pastels or metallics can match décor or a ceremony theme. I have had many different requests to match a theme such as Steampunk, peacock colours, Corpse Bride, Viking ones to match clothing and décor, Star Trek decorated, Egyptian and many more. They can be as colourful, elaborate or as personal as required. Most choose to make their own cords infusing them with personal hopes for the future.
How is handfasting done?
During a handfasting, the hands of the couple or people involved are bound together signifying their desire to be bound solely to each other for eternity. Different coloured ribbons or cords of choice, each colour symbolic of an attribute required for a happy and prosperous union are wrapped or draped around the couple’s wrists and hands. Family or friends can take part in placing singular ribbons. The couple make promises to each other as each ribbon is draped around their held hands, and the ribbons or cords ends are tied into a knot which shouldn’t be undone.
After the ceremony, the handfasting bindings can be kept in a keepsake box, displayed in a frame or hung above the marital bed. Handfasting ceremonies can be performed as part of an engagement ceremony, renewal of vows, or anniversary ceremony. A handfasting is a symbolic and interesting element to any wedding ceremony.
I specialise in handfasting ceremonies and have been honoured to have created and performed hundreds of them over the years I have been an alternative wedding and handfasting celebrant.
I have researched the origins and beliefs from many religions and cultures to be able to provide a detailed and knowledgeable personalised ceremony for all who seek them. From many beliefs of Paganism to colour symbolic handfasting ceremonies.
For further information on handfasting ceremonies or to enquire about a ceremony, please contact me.