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with Relationship Speaker/Author/Coach...
Larry James

The Handfasting Ceremony

Handfasting is an ancient commitment ceremony. It is the predecessor to the modern wedding ceremony. The ritual itself usually includes a loose binding together of the hands of the couple with a ritual cord of some kind, hence the name, which means "hand fastening." It is also the origin of the slang phrase "to tie the knot."

Handfasting is a symbolic ceremony to honor a couple's desire for commitment to each other; to acknowledge that their lives and their fates are now bound together. it is the word used by the ancient Celts to describe their traditional trial-marriage ceremony, during which couples were literally bound together. The handfasting was a temporary agreement, that expired after a year and a day. However, it could be made permanent after at that time, if both spouses agreed.

Many modern couples have been adapting this ceremony for their weddings. One couple used their child's baby blanket as their ribbon, symbolizing that the child is "their knot." Another couple had each saved the shirt they wore on their first date four years ago, so they repurposed those shirts as their ribbon. The groom's mother cut up the shirts and made a fantastic three-foot-long wrapping for their hands. Use your imagination!

Today some couples are choosing to have it be a part of their wedding ceremony.

The Handfasting Ceremony
Example of a Handfasting
Example of a Handfasting

The Bride and Groom kneel before the minister.

Minister:  _____ and _____ are also including hand-fasting in their wedding ceremony to emphasize their eternal bond and reinforce the feeling that they never wish to be parted from one another. Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition symbolizing the binding together of two people in love.

(The Bride and Groom join hands, right to right, left to left. Minister places a golden cord (or other color of your choice) over their hands and his hand over their joined hands.)

Minister:  (Holding up Cord) This is the Cord of Handfasting. It will bind _____ and _____ together with bonds of love. For such bonds to be strong, they need support - not only from the couple themselves, but most of all, they will need the support of their community of family and friends. When I bind their hands together, please focus on this Cord and let your support flow as loving strength into it.

Minister:  Trust is the very foundation of a healthy love relationship. There can be no trust without conversation; no genuine intimacy without trust.

Minister to the Bride:  _____, please repeat after me.

Bride:  My Love for you is a bond made in perfect trust. Love given in trust brings freedom; let us be free to love.

Minister:  _____, please repeat after me.

Groom:  My Trust in you is a bond made in perfect Love. Trust given with love brings freedom; let us be free to trust.

Minister:  Bless these hands that will hold one another in passion and Love. Let these hands that will bake bread for one another, and build shelter for one another be blessed. Bless these hands that will hold their children and grand children, and that will confort them in grief, and hold them in affection.

May this couple be blessed with empathy and understanding; honesty and justice; vision and wisdom; beauty and eloquence. Your union will be the heart of a new family, joining and extending and blending both families into one.

Minister:  (Turning to the East) Be with us here, O Spirits of the East, Spirits of Air, to witness this declaration! With your breath of life, join the bonds between these two and tie them tightly.

(Turning to the South) Be with us here, O Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire, to witness this declaration! Give their love and passion your own all consuming ardor.

(Turning to the West) Be with us here, O Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water, to witness this declaration! Grant these two the deepest of love, richness of body, soul and spirit.

(Turning to the North) Be with us here, O Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, to witness this declaration! Let your strength and constancy be theirs for as long as they desire to be together.

Minister:  The Circle is closed.

Optional Blessing
Example of a Handfasting
Example of a Handfasting

Minister:  As we bow our heads. . . Spirit of Love, may _____ and _____ know great love together, and may they live in the desire to always support each other in positive and uplifting ways. May they strengthen one another in sorrow, share with one another in gladness, and be companions to each other in times of silence.

May their home be a haven, and whenever they are plagued by changing fortune, may they be united not in word and outward form alone, but by the Presence in the hearts of each, of the deepening love they share. And so it is.

•    •    •

These words can be edited, deleted, expanded or adapted to your own Handfasting Ceremony as needed.

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