This ancient ceremony can be used as a sign of betrothal, part of the wedding or it may stand alone as a ceremony in its own right. Three, five or seven ribbons are chosen; the colours of can have symbolic meaning, or may simply be favourites of the couple. Some people add old lace, vintage material or even family jewellery. Many add silver charms and flowers. The celebrant asks the couple to hold hands and they are then tied or ‘fastened’ together by the ribbons and cords. The couple may make promises or respond to vows as each fastening occurs. At the end of the ceremony their hands are slipped from the ribbons, leaving these whole and uncut, to be saved as a beautiful memento.
As this was originally a betrothal ceremony it is a romantic way to mark the beginning of an engagement. The ribbons and cords can be saved and used as part of the wedding ceremony in the future.
If a couple has had a wedding abroad and yet still wish to share their marriage with friends back at home, a Handfasting Ceremony is a colourful and beautiful choice. New vows may be said and the whole gathering of friends and family can take part of the ceremony.
A Handfasting Ceremony is perfect when a couple wants to celebrate their loving relationship with friends and family, without formal or legal ties. If there have been previous marriages, people may not wish to go though the same service with their new partner but still feel their new love is important and wonderful enough to deserve a celebration, a sharing and a party!
Children are easily involved: they can help tie the ribbons and even be part of the vows.