Handfasting Wedding Ceremony



Handfasting Wedding Ceremony

a little bit of history, a little bit of you

This is the year of the handfasting!

And to be honest, I am THRILLED.   One of my absolute favourite elements to add into a ceremony has to be a handfasting.  I’ve done Pagan, Ukranian, Celtic, Wiccan, Norse, Faerie and even a very contemporary take on the olden day bind.  I love them. I love explaining the history and showing more generations that there are so many different ways to wed!

One of the first weddings I ever performed had a handfasting!  Apparently 90% of the officiants around would not perform one. I had never done one before, but why would I say no to learning something new?  You’re right if you assume I spent 2 months researching, reviewing and watching videos on it! I am SO grateful as I ended up building my own handfasting ceremony script from scratch and it gave me a sense of freedom to have fun with it!

The history of the handfasting goes back to around the 16th and 17th century in Scotland.  The term purely means “a contract”. A bind. It is said that when a couple was going to wed, they would sometimes have to wait months, even a year for a member of the clergy to arrive for a marriage.  The act of “Tying the knot” bound a couple to each other in the interim. 

There is also the idea that the knot was tied between a couple as their engagement.  The handfasting was not legally binding, but allowed the couple a full year and one day,  trial marriage. Once the time was up, they could choose to sever the bind without harm or become married legally.

Personally I love the idea of tartans or cloth as binding.   That in times of struggle, when you couldn’t afford an expensive diamond ring, the couple would each tear a piece of their clothing and bind the two together.  For me, there is something romantic in this concept. These couples chose love. They chose each other. And they did it with such conviction that they tore a piece of their own clothing (And I’m not talking about picking out a piece from your closet.  We are talking one shirt of probably 3!) to bind each other, their families, their love for each other. 

I definitely love adding in the true visuals of the Bonds of Matrimony to a service.  As popular as they have become in my circle, I still love to see the faces of guests before the ceremony when they see the cords hanging at the altar! 

Handfasting origins are definitely arguable but for me, that piece doesn’t matter.  I love blending something old with something new. And to this point, no cords have ever been the same.  

When I perform a handfasting ceremony I offer up a bit of lore to let people know some of the history involved.  After this, I curate a blessing for the couple. Sometimes it’s personal, sometimes it’s traditional and sometimes it’s downright witchy!

Once we’ve blessed them and they have agreed to bind, I make the bind for the couple to tie.  After a few more words and a cue to tie the knot, the couple can then pull the cord(s) and the binding is complete! 

Some people choose to keep the cord as a keepsake.  Some display it in a shadow box as a memory alongside other pieces from the day.  Some set it on fire to allow the elements to keep it. It’s such a personal piece that it’s the couples preference!

And when it comes to styles, I’ve had nautical rope, ribbons, jute, upholstery ties, handmade pieces with charms, and yes, even many a tartan!  And they are all beautiful. Because they are unique to the couple.  

So take your time, think about what a handfasting means to you, and make it your own!  There are no rules in 2019!


Rev Audra

One Soul Awakening