April 19, 2023


Planning Resources

In a world full of so many different cultures, religions, and belief systems, there are a plethora of meaningful rituals and symbolic gestures you can incorporate into your marriage ceremony that resonate with the love and intent of your commitment to your partner. It’s becoming more and more popular for couples to discover ancient and/or borrowed traditions that inspire them to create their own for such a vulnerable and intimate experience. An old practice that’s been resurfacing is the act of handfasting. 

A handfasting ceremony is one that is deeply rooted in Celtic tradition, and has remained fairly popular in recent years. This practice has been dated all the way back to 7000 B.C., with its origins believed to have been derived from the lands of ancient Ireland. It didn’t take long for handfasting to reach neighboring areas such as Scotland, England, and the Nordic countries. Handfasting became a prominent function in Viking tradition, and became a staple in both Pagan and Wiccan ideology. 

During a handfasting ceremony, the couple will bind their hands together with some sort of ribbon or cord. The cord will usually be a color that coordinates a quality that defines the scale of commitment the couple will vow to each other, qualities such as love, loyalty, passion, etc. In fact, the tying of the cord around the couple’s hands is where the infamous saying “tying the knot” comes from that you hear so often in the wedding world. 

While the couple’s hands are bound, this is usually where they will exchange their vows or an equivalent. This ritual can be tailored to fit the couple in any way that matches their values, or their celebratory desires. Some couples choose to also exchange their rings during this time, light special candles, or share a collection of words that have a direct connection to the handfasting tradition itself.

Handfasting is a beautiful way to embody the unity between two people, despite whatever devotional and/or spiritual affiliations they may have. This practice can be included in both secular and religious ceremonies, with the ability to alter it however you may want. Keeping ancient traditions alive in a modern world can be a lovely and gratifying pursuit. Whether you’re looking to build upon your own personal traditions, pay tribute to your heritage, or you just want something different but relevant to your commitment, a handfasting ceremony may be for you. 

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