I have been wracking my brain on how to make our ceremony unique and personal to us. It’s so important to us that we not do a ceremony that has been repeated by thousands of people. I wanted something that, while maybe it was popular, not totally traditional, and at least personal to us. I’ve come up with a few different ideas, and handfasting is one of my favorites.
Everyone knows about the unity candle, or the pouring of sands together, well a Celtic handfasting ritual is like that. The tradition dates back thousands of years, and can not only be traced to Scotch-Irish heritage but English as well. Since my fiance is Scotch-Irish, I think this is a perfect way to tie us together (literally) as well as our histories.
The tradition is very open-ended. There isn’t a strict set of rules to follow or anything to repeat. It can be performed many different ways and in whatever spot in the ceremony you want. The basic concept is that a close friend or family member ties a knot around yours and your beloved’s hands as a symbol of the pledge to love each other. Some couples clasp the left hands across from each other, others stand next to each other and bind left and right hands. My favorite stance, and the one I want to do, is, the figure eight.
Standing across from your partner, grab his left with your left, and his right with your right making a figure eight. The figure eight symbolizes infinity. The family members then wrap the cords, ending with a knot (literally “tying the knot”). During the time you are fasted, you can have your officiant say something, or you can recite your vows.
For us, I want our parents to handfast us, and for us to say our personal vows to each other. This is a wonderful way to make the ceremony more personal and meaningful to us.
Your cords can be anything, ribbons with your wedding colors, pieces of fabric meaningful to you as a couple, or just pretty pieces of fabric you love. Talk about an extremely simple DIY! Just collect strips of fabric and you are done! After the wedding you can use the cords for decoration, to bind your wedding album or guest book.
Are you honoring your heritage, or the heritage of your fiance? How? What traditions are you incorporating in your ceremony?