Celtic Handfastings

Personal and Meaningful According to Your Beliefs

Personal Handfasting Ritual
Handfasting Ceremony Scotland
Celtic Handfasting Ceremony

We’re very happy to discuss creating a hand tying ritual within a personal alternative ceremony, or to discuss holding a full Handfasting Ceremony – please read on to find out what the difference is before making your choice.

This is by far the most popular chosen ritual of couples having a personal wedding ceremony and we’ve adapted the idea many times to create a unique ritual for each couple.

The primary idea is a symbolic binding of the hands during the wedding ceremony, often before the bride and groom make their vows to one another; sometimes as a 'stand alone' ritual leading up to the pronouncement of marriage.  This is an adaptation of a ritual which has been known the world over through many different periods in history and by different faiths and cultures.

In the past a binding of the hands has been associated with couples making a commitment to one another for a year and a day.  Some couples like to use this idea and make their future wedding anniversaries an opportunity to review their relationship and the past year, and renew their vows and commitments.  Other couples prefer the ritual as an outer representation of the joining taking place within which can't be actually seen - the joining of hearts, souls and intentions.

Some couples begin the search for their perfect ceremony by thinking they’d like a full Handfasting Ceremony.  When they discover that a full Handfasting Ceremony has certain language and symbology, they realize that it’s not quite what they’re looking for. 

In a full Handfasting Ceremony the union or marriage of two people is considered to be the union or marriage of the masculine and feminine, the God and Goddess, within.  This is very much the kind of language and symbology used in a full Handfasting Ceremony – God and Goddess, Lord and Lady. 

Whilst we will work together to ensure that the terms and symbology used in your ceremony feel comfortable and fitting for you, and we use the terms and symbology of your choice, if you don’t follow a particular path or tradition you may prefer to have just a binding of the hands within a personal ceremony. Detailed below are suggestions of the elements which would be included in a full Handfasting Ceremony.

A full Handfasting Ceremony is a ritualistic ceremony of the joining of two people willingly and according to the agreements they've previously discussed and settled upon for the future of their relationship.  The same could be said of a personal alternative ceremony.  The content of the full Handfasting ceremony would be dependent on the beliefs of the couple and could include some or all of the following

An introduction / setting the scene / explaining symbolism
Welcoming family and friends / being inclusive
Setting an intention and or a prayer
Elemental Blessing
Honouring the Divine
Sharing of a 'meal' (Cakes, Ale / Bread, Wine / Cake, Wine)
Exchange of vows
Exchange of rings or other gifts
The sword ritual
Binding of the hands
Jumping the broom
Guest participation

There are many different versions of Handfastings which have been used at different times over the centuries and in different parts of the world - therefore we offer no 'finite' version of a ceremony.

A full Handfasting Ceremony is a very beautiful and sacred ceremony option for a couple wishing to make a private or public commitment to one another.  Whether you call it a Celtic Handfasting or a Handfasting may depend on whether you feel most akin to the Pagan, Druid or Wiccan traditions, and also whether you have Scottish, Irish or Welsh blood in you.  It’s also possible for me to take ideas from a full Handfasting Ceremony structure and content, then to draw from the essence of whichever tradition if you feel most akin to - Christianity, Native American, Shamanism or Buddhism.

Here is a small extract from one version of a ceremony that we use, that illustrates the kind of language and symbology used.

Friends, we draw down the God and Goddess into Angela and William to connect them with the divinity within themselves, reminding them that in marriage it is their higher selves and the best that they have to give, that they offer to one another.

As a sacred spiritual union, to become the embodiment of the God and Goddess as they join as husband and wife serves as a reminder that as it is above, so it is below; as it is within, so it is without.

Angela and William honour the masculine and feminine, the God and Goddess, within themselves and in each other; and within all of creation.

Lady Angela, I ask you to call upon all that is divine within you, let it come forth and shine.
In you dwells the essence of the Great Mother and the divine feminine principle of the Universe.
Shine dear one and show your true nature as Goddess.

Lord William, I ask you to call upon all that is divine within you, let it come forth and shine.
In you lives the essence of the Gods - the active force that sparks and powers all life.
Shine mighty one and show to all the God within.

Should you wish to receive some additional information on full Handfasting Ceremonies or on hand binding ritual by email, please let us know.

“We couldn’t have wished for a lovelier minister or a more perfect, personal ceremony.  Our heartfelt thanks for you for a wonderful day which neither we, nor our guests, will ever forget.”