When I announced that I had trained to be a celebrant, the most common question was, “what does that actually mean?” (answer here!)The second was “how can we make the ceremony different?” Your ceremony can be made up of ‘symbolic rituals’, I see these as moments where you and your partner do something ritualistic to seal your commitment.
I will be exploring the different types of more common symbolic rituals and sharing them with you here on the blog.
Up first… Handfasting!
What’s the history?
Traditionally a Celtic ritual harking back to 7000 BC, and bought into the limelight recently by the huge TV series Game of Thrones, handfasting has been part of both engagement ceremonies and weddings for a very long time.
Originally the binding of hands was done in front of a priest to symbolise the betrothal or engagement of two people. This would last a year and then if the couple were deemed to be a good match – they would return to the Priest for the wedding ceremony.
For me, I think that some of these rituals can really bring depth to a ceremony, taking a moment to hold hands and physically be connected to your partner on such a momentous day can be grounding. Not to mention the day can be daunting, so getting a squeeze from your favourite person is great for settling the nerves!
So here are the answers to a few common hand fasting questions:
Who ties your hands?
Anyone actually, your celebrant, officiant or a member of your family. The key to individualising your wedding is to make it mean something to you. So if the person who introduced you to your fiancé is in the room, why not ask them?
How long do we stay tied?
Traditionally, when the practice started it was in Wiccan or Pagan rituals the couple would be bound until midnight! However, that could make meeting and greeting your guests a bit tricky, so I recommend trying to remove the wrap but keeping it in its tied position so that you have the knot as a keep sake (worth a few practice runs as it can be can done, once you know how) Its a lovely reminder of the moment you tied the knot – and yes that’s where the phrase comes from!
What do we tie our hands with?
There is no hard and fast rule and I am all for a bit of creativity, traditionally it is material – but that said you can use anything; a scarf from the university you met at, your first pair of curtains, or why not have a chat with your florist – we have seen gorgeous floral tributes used in some ceremonies and they can be dried and preserved after your day. I personally have some gorgeous ribbons and hand fasting chords that I make from sustainably sourced ribbon (more on these soon), you can keep the fabrics or ribbons as separate strips (a great way to involve lots of people in your ceremony) or they can be bound or plaited together as a symbol of the two of you intertwining.
Is it legal?
No it’s not – You can do the legal element of your wedding in a registry office (or licensed venue) ahead of your celebrant led ceremony. Having already carried out the legal element you have so much more flexibility and creativity to have a truly unique ceremony.
If you would like to know about this ritual or any other types of service that I can provide, then I would love to have a chat with you and your partner. My only goal is to try and make your day exactly what it should be, to bring you both together in a way that feels authentic to you. And a day that you look back on with joy and fondness.
And if you have had a hand fasting ceremony I would love to hear from you – I want this to be a community and so I would love to hear how personalising your wedding made your day perfect and to be able to share ideas with newly engaged couples.
Share you stories or ask me about ceremonies here.
All of the photos in this blog are from an incredible photo shoot I was proudly part of earlier this summer, championing creative wedding design.
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