Wedding project ideas and style how-tos for brides, bridal jewelry designers and wedding planners.
Getting married is called "tying the knot" for a reason: there was a knot getting tied!
It's called handfasting--and it's reemerging as a popular wedding choice.
The (Mostly Celtic) History of Handfasting
Originally, handfasting was seen as a betrothal, rather than a formal marriage, and was valid only for a year and a day. It had to take place in front of witnesses (marriages did not always require that), and was considered the public acknowledgement that the two were a couple.
The word "handfasting" comes from the action of tying the bride's and groom's hands and wrists together during the ceremony. (Some traditions involved not untying their hands until the relationship had been consummated.)
Drawing from this Celtic background, handfasting is often used to celebrate the bride's or groom's family heritage or their membership in Wicca and similar faiths.
What Occurs at a Handfasting
Handfasting often occurs within a circle. It can be a circle of stones, trees, pillars, décor items--even the ceremony's witnesses!
The couple's hands are clasped together and then bound with a cord or ribbon. Some ceremonies have them simply clasp right hand to right hand, while others have all four hands clasped together. The cord is gently wrapped around their wrists and hands by the officiant, by their mothers, by friends or other members of their chosen family, depending on the couple's beliefs and preferences. The two ends of the cord are knotted together, with the remaining length left dangling below.
The officiant speaks a blessing over the bound hands, and then the couple's hands are released. Some traditions say the cord must be removed without untying the knot, because that would undo the connection just formed in the ceremony. The cord is often kept after the ceremony, sometimes preserved along with the bride's bouquet and wedding dress.
Then it's time to celebrate!
Handfasting Cord or Ribbon
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