Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual what is it?

Feb 21, 2020

Handfasting Ritual

A Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual is also known as ‘hand-tying’.  It’s a lovely Ancient Symbolic Wedding Ceremony.  It’s become really popular with modern couples in recent years.  The wedding couple hold hands, which are gently tied together with cords in a symbolic knot.

The binding of the hands symbolises your unity and the binding of your lives together.

You’ve probably heard the well known phrased ‘tying the knot’. This is where the expression originates from.

Hundreds of years ago being ‘hand tied’ was the way that couples were married (most brides and grooms couldn’t afford a gold or silver ring).

handfasting ceremony wedding ritual

How to tie the Handfasting cords 

There’s really no right or wrong way to tie a Handfasting. The core of the ceremony is the hands being gently tied in a symbolic knot. And as you can imagine there are many and varied ways to do this. Each person performing the handfasting does it in their own way.

Both hands are bound together or just the right hands, or opposite hands. The Wedding Couple stand face to face, or side-by-side.
There are many different ways to tie-the-knot, and yes, this is where this well-known phrase ‘tying the knot’ has it’s origins!

Who can create a handfasting ceremony


Realistically, anyone can create and perform a Handfasting Ceremony for you. Traditionally, Wiccans and Pagans embraced handfasting as a part of their wedding ceremony. But these days, it’s become very popular with wedding couples from many different beliefs and backgrounds. It really is a lovely way of personalising your Wedding Ceremony.

A Handfasting Ritual is performed by a Wedding Celebrant, who also includes many special and interesting elements into your Wedding Ceremony which make it unique to you.








What are the cords made of?

Make your Handfasting cords of any materials. Natural fibres are best and more ecological. Your handfasting ceremony will have more personal meaning to you both when the cords you choose have some personal meaning to you.

So choosing the  colours of your cords for their symbolic meaning would be perfect.. Traditionally white symbolises purity, innocence and new beginnings. Red often symbolises passion, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigour and lust. Blue represents tranquillity, understanding, truth, sincerity, and loyalty. Orange can represent passion, fun energy and warmth.

How to make the cords

Handfasting cords are braided / plaited or woven and ribbon is the ideal material to use for this as it’s soft and pliable and easy to tie. And it’s easy to buy many different colours and styles of ribbon. The plaiting symbolises the inter-twining of your lives, hearts and souls, and the endless love, loyalty.  And your joint path as you go forward in life  together.

It really is wonderful if you can make your own cords, but if you don’t have time or don’t feel confident enough to make your own cords have them tailor made to your own specifications.

Handfasting and Symbolism

Want to bring something extra into your Handfasting Ceremony?  In Pagan symbolism the numbers 3 and 9 have significance. It will literally weave the symbolism into the making of the cords.

Your cords need to be at least 6 feet long (2 metres) when they are finished to allow for the knots to be made.

Have 3 ribbons plaited into one cord and make 3 of these. Using colours and materials that mean something to each of you.

The whole point is to make it all very personal to you.  Anything goes.

Wedding Ritual


Each Celebrant will use their own words but ‘The Blessing of the Hands’ is a beautiful verse to include in your ceremony.


“Love took me by the hand;
Love took me by surprise.
Love led me to you,
And love opened up my eyes.”
– Michelle Branch, “Drop in the Ocean” 

‘These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.’

I recommend that you have a Handfasting Ritual in combination with your own Personal Wedding Vows written by you from your heart.  It makes your Wedding Ceremony all about you and completely personal. Your very own totally unique Wedding Ceremony is so special.

Photo: Nettlespie Photography

Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual

Is the Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual a legal ceremony?

These days a Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual doesn’t have any legal status.

It’s a beautiful Symbolic Ceremony that’s a statement of intent between two people in love, symbolising their commitment for “as long as love shall last.”

Do the Legalities at a Register Office with a very simple Legal Marriage a week or two before your real Wedding Ceremony.  All you need is two witnesses for the legal bit, which takes about 30 mins maximum and costs £60.

Your wonderful personalised Wedding Ceremony with all the special elements of a Handfasting and also many other symbolic rituals makes your wedding ceremony unique to you.


Want your own Handfasting Ceremony?

Get in touch to find out more about the Handfasting Ceremony Wedding Ritual I create for couples like you who are looking for something very personal in their Ceremony.

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