This fall, I’ve begun to work with many couples who are getting married in the summer and fall of 2009. And I’ve found many of them have been requested handfastings!
If you’re not familiar with handfasting – it’s, quite literally, “tying the knot.” Though “handfasting” is often used in Pagan circles as the the term for the entire wedding ceremony, the handfasting I’m referring to is a unity ritual, often going after the ring vows and before the closing of the ceremony. The couple takes hands (like they’re shaking hands – right into right and left into left). Their hands are then wrapped with a cord, symbolizing the joining of their lives and hearts. Each wrap represents a step towards complete commitment to each other. At the end, the couple remains there, for a moment, and then the cord is removed before the end of the ceremony.
Lindsey & Ben had me wrap their hands, then repeated a simple vow.
Some couples choose to take vows as their hands are wrapped – this is an option as well.
Something fun many of my couples have done is to choose a handfasting cord that really means something to them – if you’re a fiber artist, you can knit, spin, weave, or crochet your cord – or use something that is relevant to your life – a couple I met with recently mentioned using boating twine as they are getting married at the beach! There are also traditional meanings to the colors of a handfasting cord – so if you want to do multiple colored cords, your officiant can mention what each one means as it is wrapped around your hands.
You can also have a friend, family member, or bridal party member wrap the cord around your hands. If you have a smaller bridal party, you could have them all come up and do one wrap, as the officiant speaks. Or your parents could wrap your hands, signifying their support as you enter this next stage in your life.
The roots of the handfasting are in the Celtic countries of Europe – I’ve had couples with Irish backgrounds use handfasting, as it has been the tradition in their families. Many couples who want to incorporate a Pagan touch to their wedding have chosen a handfasting as well – not only because it is a lovely ritual, but because it’s a nice way to slip a non-traditional element in to the ceremony without scaring the more conservative relatives.
PS: Not that crafty and don’t have a beautiful vintage handfasting cord in your family? Hit up a fabric store, and buy some beautiful trim or cording and some tassels (in the home decor section). Attach the tassels to the cord, and you’ll have a beautiful handfasting cord! Just make sure you get one that is long enough – I’d reccomend at least1 yard and a half long.
I think it’s a beautiful ritual, one that has a fabulous background, and something to think about when putting your ceremony together!