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  • Writer's pictureJulie Weston

Handfasting - tying the knot

Handfasting, tying the knot, getting hitched, jumping the broom, pledging your troth ... there are so many sayings and rituals that have been woven into ceremony over the years. I love the richness that ritual can bring to ceremony and one ritual I particularly love is handfasting.

This is a timeless, Celtic tradition. In olden times, before marriages had to be registered at the relevant governmentdepartment, couples were joined by a handfasting. The officiant, who was probably the village elder would wrap the couple's hands and speak the words that bound them.

I offer a handfasting ritual that we weave into the ceremony, one that is meaningful for the couple and celebrates their story. Recently the bride had a small, colourful scarf that had belonged to her grandmother that she wanted to incorporate into the ceremony. The mothers of the couple tied this beautiful scarf along with a white Buddhist scarf that I had brought back from a trip to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. The white scarf had the 8 auspicious symbols for happiness and enlightenment embossed in the fabric and when the mums tied the scarfs around the hands of the couple with nana's scarf, a little bit of magic was woven as well.

The lovely thing about handfasting is that you can incorporate so many threads into it - colours that are meaningful to you, woven fabric or scarves that have come from places you've visited or loved ones who have gone. You can have your family help with tying the knot - mums, dads, your wedding party, aunties, best friends, it's so inclusive and intimate at the same time.

There's a beautiful poem called 'These Hands' (see below) that couples often choose to have read whilst the handfasting is happening, it's just lovely and has stood the test of time. I've also written a shorter poem that many of my couples have chosen for their ceremony, especially if they already have a reading or two in already chosen.

If you want to enrich your ceremony, talk to your celebrant and they should be able to incorporate something super special - just for you!

Two Become One

Julie Weston

Two hands joined in friendship

Two hearts joined in love

Two selves merged

A promise made

A knot tied

Two become one


Here's the traditional version - I have to say I've recited this poem many times and I still have to take a deep breath to make sure I don't tear up and cry!

These Hands

Author Unknown

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes;

tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

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