Handfasting ~ A Wedding Ceremony

Post Category: Weddings

Traditionally a hand-made length of cloth inscribed with the Latin words:

Devotio Nostrum In Aeternum - Our devotion for an eternity

Celebrant: Ladies and Gentlemen, this beautiful cloth can only be described as a labour of love. Hand-made by (Name), the words stitched onto it mirror the inscription on their wedding bands (/mirror their feelings for each other)

I now call upon NAME to give the blessing

This cord binds them to the vows that they have made

Entwining two hearts to walk the path of life together.

Bound, but free. You have chosen to journey together, each supporting the other

Be ever mindful of the thoughts and happiness of your partner

Keep sacred the vows you have promised to one another

Seek always the truth and your partnership will blossom and flourish

Be mindful that above you are the stars and below you are the stones

and as time passes, remember… Like a star, should your love be constant

Like a stone, should your love be firm for now and always.

How to create a handfasting ceremony

There are many rituals that have lasted centuries that symbolise a couples love and commitment.

The handfasting ceremony dates back to the time of the ancient Celts. It was used to acknowledge the beginning of a trial period of a year and a day during which time a couple were literally bound together - hand fasted. It was however a temporary agreement which could be made permanent after the trial period if both parties agreed.

Nowadays, the handfasting ceremony is only used symbolically, as marriage according to the law in Australia is a lifetime commitment.

The bride/Groom/Partner’s hands are joined together, usually holding hands so the wrists and pulses are touching, with a ribbon or symbolic material looped over the bride and groom’s wrists and tied by the celebrant or a friend.

Some, like the sample ceremony below, loop the ribbon six times.

Ensure that the ribbon is the right length - I would recommend a rehearsal so that everyone is familiar with the ritual before the ceremony day.

The words spoken usually express that the couple are bound by their love and commitment for one another and like the cord, which has two individual ends, they are two individuals. Yet, in essence, they are one.

The bride/groom/partner usually remain joined by the looped ribbon until after the marriage vows are exchanged - not for a year and a day! The final tie being done loosely so the ribbon/s can be removed easily while still remaining tied.

Examples of a handfasting ceremony

You may also ask the celebrant to explain the ritual and its history before starting.

People love to know what is going on.

You can use just one long cord or ribbon that is looped over the joined hands at each asking or you can use a separate cord or ribbon for each question, and then tie them all as one when the asking is complete. Make sure there is plenty of time to really allow the couple to hear the questions that are being asked of them.

There is usually a question to start a handfasting ritual such as:

Bride/Groom/Partner do you come here voluntarily to enter this marriage ceremony?

(Yes, we do)

Bride/Groom/Partner would you please hold hands.

Bride/Groom/Partner, will you honour and respect one another? (We will)

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

Will you support and assist each other in times of pain and sorrow? (We will)

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

Will you be present in the difficult and challenging times so that you may grow strong in this union? (We will)

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

Will you share each other’s laughter and joy, and look for the brightness and fun in life, and the positive in each other? (We will).

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

Is it your intention to bring peace and harmony into your everyday ways of communicating? (We will)

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

And when you falter, will you have the courage and commitment to remember these promises and take a step back towards one another with an open heart? (We will).

Each time looping the ribbon around the couple’s hands.

Other question ideas

Are you willing now and always to make this commitment to each other?

We are.

Will you stand side by side for the rest of your days together?

We will.

Will you bring fun, laughter, joy and happiness to your relationship?

We will.

And as the years pass and your hands become aged and wrinkled, will you reach out and be there for each other?

We will.

At the end knot the ends together while saying: ‘Your union is symbolised by the tying of these ribbons. Your union is formed by your friendship and your commitment to the vows you have made, and will be enriched by the way you live your every day lives together. You hold in your own hands and hearts the making or breaking of this union. While we are now going to remove the ribbons the knot will remain tied symbolising two lives becoming one.

The ribbon is tied (leave enough space to take the ribbons off) and then gently removed from their joined wrists.And now as your hands are bound together, I ask you to declare your vows to each other.

At this point the legal vows can be incorporated.

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