Handfasting - a Pagan Wedding Ceremony

Now apparently the term "tying the knot" originates from the handfesting and dates back to a time when couples had their hands tied together, with red cord, during a ceremony. Apparently the red cord symoblised desire, vitality, and passion of the love the couple had for each other.

What is Handfasting?

But what exactly is Handfasting? It is the Pagan equivalent of a wedding ceremony and symbolises a couples desire to be bonded together and commit their love for each other. This they do, in the same way as you would in a traditional wedding, in front of family and friends.

What is different though is that Handfasting lasts for 18 months although couples can opt for a longer-term option (technically anyway) where they can choose to have their handfasting last as

Image Courtesy of Rivendell Bridal

long as their love for each other does.


The Origins

The idea originates from an old Scottish custom when a couple who wished to be viewed as man and wife, would have their hands tied together. The test was that if they lasted like this for a full year, they would then be recognised as man and wife!

In more recent times, it has become common practice to hold such ceremonies

during the Summer Solstice or on Mayday.

Couples who are joining together under a handfasting ceremony will often still exchange rings in the same way a couple would during a traditional wedding ceremony, and for the same reasons, as a symbole of their love. They will often choose to exchange Celtic Wedding Rings which are true to the origins of handfasting.

The actually ceremony itself can be performed indoors or outdoors, though it has to be said that most Pagans would prefer to have an outdoor ceremony.

Is it Legally Binding?

No, not as far as we are aware, a Handfasting Ceremony would not make you man and wife in the eyes of the law. If this is important to you, you must have a civil wedding ceremony performed as well. Though, we are lead to believe the Pagan movement is lobbying hard to try and have their wedding ceremonies recognised as a legally binding ceremony.

For more information on the ceremony itself and more information on Pagan beliefs see

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