As part of my celebrancy training, I spent some time studying the ancient celtic ritual of handfasting. Handfasting is becoming increasingly popular in weddings nowadays and was even used by William and Kate in 2011!
What is handfasting?
A handfasting ceremony is an old Pagan custom that dates back to the time of ancient Celtic times. It originated as more than an act during a wedding ceremony—in fact, the entire handfasting took place over a period of around a year and served as a trial marriage. In other words, if you couldn’t handle each other for 365 days, then you probably needed to check out. On the other hand, if at the end of the year you were still totally blissed out, you would get married.
Who has a handfasting?
Handfastings are commonly used in Pagan or Humanist ceremonies. Today the handfasting is more literal: a couple will bind their hands together during the wedding ceremony (before, during, or after reciting their vows), often to symbolize their connection and devotion to one another.
Of course, you don’t have to be Pagan or Humanist to incorporate the handfasting, and plenty of couples use handfastings in their religious or secular weddings all the time.
How do you include a handfasting in your wedding?
Many couples have different methods for determining what kind of cord to use and what it will look like. Sometimes a couple faces one another and bind both pairs of hands, sometimes only right hands are bound, and still others a right hand will be bound to a left. A couple can work with their celebrant to determine what kind of cord and ceremony is right for them.
Here are some examples of some of my favourite handfasting cords & ribbons.