Tying the Knot
Updated: May 6, 2019
A wedding is not just about the dress and the fabulous venue, it's about your love story, the promises to be made, and the bit that I believe is most important – unity. As a couple you are now joining together to move forward through life as a team and unity rituals are a great way to add an extra layer of meaning to your wedding ceremony whether before or after you exchange rings and vows.
From wine blending to candle lighting, there is a ritual to fit every couple's style and heritage. One of the most popular options in recent times is the Handfasting ceremony, but what is it exactly?
The Handfasting ceremony originates from ancient Celtic tradition and symbolises the binding together of two lives, and the union of a wedding couple's hopes and desires.
Historically, using fabric or rope was often the only way in which to demonstrate commitment because not many of the poorer population could not afford a gold ring! Many of you will remember the secret marriage scene in the film”Braveheart”, with Mel Gibson as William Wallace marrying his true love Murron, using embroidered fabric for their Handfasting.
In the Scottish Celtic tradition, the binding would be for a year and a day and if the couple still wanted to be together after that, the Handfasting was removed and they were formally recognised as wed. A handy get out option!
During a Handfasting ceremony, I like to explain the ritual and what it means to the couple. I will then invite the couple to join hands which symbolises their free will to enter into marriage. There are different ways to tie the ropes or ribbons, with the bride and groom standing either opposite each other or facing the wedding guests. Hands are bound, often in three loops symbolising three things that are important to my couple. My personal favourite is “once for Love, once for Luck, and once for Laughter”.
The most popular tying method incorporates a unity knot which the couple can frame and display, or keep somewhere private. A lovely tradition is to keep the knot safe and after an argument, one of the couple can use it to place under the other's pillow as a gesture of apology!
Not to be used for throttling each other though!
Unique to you
The spiritual beliefs, and cultural tradition of each couple will determine the Handfasting style. Often one of the couple will have Celtic roots themselves. The choices they make will set the tone and mood of the ceremony. Handfasting can be sincere and solemn, a wee bit spiritual, as well as fun and inclusive. It's all about creativity, and the words we choose.
A lovely couple of my acquaintance met through volunteering as RNLI Lifeboat crew and love nothing better then being on the sea. Their Handfasting was carried out with ship's ropes, using special nautical knots, telling their story beautifully. They stayed together and didn't opt out after a year and a day, in fact we are currently planning a naming ceremony for their two children, and their knot is still on the wall...