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Handfasting – literally tying the knot!

One of the most common requests I get from couples looking for ways to symbolise their union during the ceremony is a handfasting.

The handfasting ritual involves gently wrapping cord, ribbon or fabric around your clasped hands and then gently tying a knot. The exact origins of handfasting are unknown although it has been associated with Pagan, Neopaganism Viking/Norse, Wiccan, folklore, Celtic, Judaic and Hindu weddings. As I am based in Wales, I will focus on the Celtic origin.

In Celtic tradition, handfasting dates back to the 1700s. In settlements and villages outside of larger centres, where monasteries and therefore officiants were few and far between, couples exclusively used the hand-fast as a de-facto marriage ceremony until a priest would visit the village, at which point he could “finish” the marriage rite properly.

The handfasting was historically carried out by a dignitary who would bind their hands together until they could get formally married. This was a public declaration of intent to marry and the start of an engagement.

Can we include handfasting in our Wedding Ceremony?

Absolutely you can! Nowadays, handfasting can be included in any wedding ceremony, regardless of belief or spiritual practice. Each handfasting ceremony is completely unique and the “tying” can be done in different ways to reflect your requirements. The cords or ribbons can be tied together just before, just after, or even during your vows.

The Snowdonia Celebrant, North Wales. Hand fasting with ribbon.

What about handfasting colours?

The colour of the handfasting cord, ribbons or material can be used to add another layer of meaning to your ceremony by selecting colours that represent you, your family and your hopes for your future together.

Red: passion, love, lust

Pink: love, unity, honour, truth, romance, happiness

Orange: encouragement, attraction, kindness

Yellow: charm, confidence, balance

Green: fertility, prosperity, nurturing

Blue: tranquility, patience, devotion,

Dark blue: for a safe journey, longevity and strength

Purple: strength, healing, health

Black: wisdom, vision, success

White: purity, concentration, peace

Grey: neutrality, balance

Silver: creativity, inspiration, vision and protection

Gold: unity, longevity, prosperity, strength

Creating handfasting cords

Often couples choose to make their own handfasting cords. Sometimes couples make the cords as part of a symbolic occasion, or on a meaningful date.

If you decide to make your own handfasting cord, it is possible to include different textures, beads charms, trinkets or even small photographs that have special significance. Typically, you will need 1.5-2m length of your selected material.

Why include handfasting in your ceremony?

There are so many reasons to include handfasting in your wedding ceremony. It is a beautiful, symbolic ritual, that embraces ancient traditions. But also, it is a great way to involve others in your ceremony. Children and/or other guests can choose the colours or place the ribbons on the hands of the couple. After the ceremony, couples often choose to frame the handfasting as a meaningful memento of their wedding.

Want to know more? – get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation.




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