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Handfasting Ceremony: Timeless Tradition of Love For Your Wedding Day


One ritual some couples like to include in their wedding is the handfasting ceremony. A unity ritual of pagan and Celtic origins, handfasting is a symbolic and beautiful way of sealing the union of a couple.

Not secluded to Celtic wedding traditions or even pagan, the handfasting ceremony, also known as tying the knot ceremony, has become popular all over the world. Its symbolism and rich history have enabled it to span many years, making it truly timeless. If you are looking for something unique to add to your wedding ceremony, this might just be it. Take the time to find a handfasting ceremony script that works for you both, and go for it. Read below for more information on this truly amazing wedding ritual.

What is a Handfasting Ceremony

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It is a wedding ceremony ritual that signifies the binding together of two people. Rooted in ancient Celtic tradition, this ceremony is also popularly referred to as tying the knot ceremony. Now a mainstream tradition performed at secular vows and even religious unions, the handfasting ceremony used to be only included in Pagan and Wiccan wedding ceremonies.

Believed to date back to times before the 7000 B.C., the tradition consisted of a Druid priest wrapping the clasped hands of the couple with a ribbon or braided cord, and tying them up. This signified that the couple was officially wed. The tradition spread to Western Europe and Britain; and is still used to legally bind couples in a few Irish and Scottish villages till date.


Handfasting Ceremony Script

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Can also be used as a pagan wedding ceremony script, most handfasting wedding ceremony scripts are simple and can be adapted to suit any ceremony. Below is a sample:


“The Groom and Bride have chosen to conclude their ceremony with a traditional handfasting. This is a symbolic binding of the hands that inspired the terms “Bonds of Holy Matrimony” and to “Tie the knot” Throughout history in many different ways and in many different parts of the world, the hands of the bride and groom were bound as a sign of their commitment to one another.

In many times rings were only for the very rich, while love knows no such bound. The cords are not permanent but perishable as a reminder that all things of the material eventually return to the earth, unlike the bond and the connection that is love which is eternal.

Please join your right hands.”

(At this point the couple can choose to either hold hands and the cord is wrapped around their wrists in a figure 8 type fashion, the infinity symbol, or they hold elbows. The Groom to the right and Bride to the left, and then bind over the forearm lose enough for them to drop into holding hands for the kiss as the cords make the figure 8 around their wrists, then make a comfortable exit.)


“Groom and Bride this cord is a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. Up until this moment, you have been separate in thought, word and action. As your hands are bound together by this cord, so too, shall your lives be bound as one. May you be forever be one, sharing in all things, in love and loyalty for all time to come.”


How to Include Handfasting In the Wedding?

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It could be performed just after the guests have been seated and welcomed by the officiant, or even just before the exchange of wedding vows.

After this has been decided, it can be communicated to the wedding officiant, when to hold the handfasting ceremony.


Who Can Perform a Handfasting Ceremony?

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It is traditional for the chosen officiant for the day to perform the handfasting ceremony. However, since there are no rules set in stone for this tradition, anyone special to the couple, a family member or friend, could perform the handfasting ceremony once it’s included in the wedding ceremony order.


How to Tie a Handfasting Knot


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H. A. N. D. F. A. S. T. I. N. G. Much trickier than they look. I finally had my own “how to” video shot during a recent rehearsal. #handfastingceremony

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Couples will have to first choose the cord to be used for the ceremony, which is the present day could be a silky ribbon, a scarf or a cord of significance. In Celtic times, a dyed rope or cloth was used. The cord would have to be about a yard in length, long enough to be wrapped around a pair of hands in a Celtic knot.
After the knot has been tied by the officiant, the couple exchanges their vows or are blessed as a couple.

Handfasting Ceremony Example

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A beautiful and yet ancient wedding ritual, a handfasting ceremony is a truly unique way of representing the union of a couple. Below are a wedding ceremony outline and handfasting ceremony wording example.


“As this knot is tied, so are your lives now bound.
Woven into this cord, imbued into its very fibers, are all the hopes of your friends and family, and of yourselves, for your new life together.
With the fashioning of this knot do I tie all the desires, dreams, love, and happiness wished here in this place to your lives for as long as love shall last.

In the joining of hands and the fashion of a knot, so are your lives now bound, one to another.
By this cord you are thus bound to your vow.
May this knot remain tied for as long as love shall last.
And may this cord draw your hands together in love, never to be used in anger.
May the vows you have spoken never grow bitter in your mouths.

As any child discovers when they are learning to tie their own shoes, the first move is to cross the ends.
As your hands are bound by this cord, so is your partnership held by the symbol of this knot.
May it be granted that what is done before the gods be not undone by man.
Two entwined in love, bound by commitment and fear, sadness and joy, by hardship and victory, anger and reconcilliation, all of which brings strength to this union.
Hold tight to one another through both good times and bad, and watch as your strength grows.”


Best Handfasting Vows Examples

We have compiled a few handfasting vows which can be used by couples as is. Or they can customize them to fit the words they would wish to express. Whether you are having a traditional wedding ceremony or a religious one, a handfasting ceremony is a great way to tie it all together.

  1. May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.May the road rise to meet youMay the wind be always at your backMay the warm rays of sun fall upon your homeAnd may the hand of a friend always be near.May green be the grass you walk on,May blue be the skies above you,May pure be the joys that surround you,May true be the hearts that love you.

  2. This cord represents the marital bond. It is strong enough to hold you together during times of struggle yet flexible enough to allow for individuality and personal growth. As your hands are now bound together, so shall your lives be bound as one. May you enjoy a lifetime of love and peace, happiness and prosperity.

  3. Groom and Bride this cord is a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. Up until this moment, you have been separate in thought, word and action. As your hands are bound together by this cord, so too, shall your lives be bound as one. May you be forever be one, sharing in all things, in love and loyalty for all time to come.

A great way to add one more layer of meaning to your wedding, a handfasting ceremony is a unity ritual chosen by many couples to commemorate their special day. So if you are looking for wedding ceremony ideas to add some uniqueness to your big day, here is one that you can consider for something extra.

Main Photo: blacklambphoto via Instagram