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Planning a Handfasting Ceremony


If you are searching for ways to make your ceremony unique, you might consider handfasting. This old Celtic tradition is becoming a modern wedding trend. Let’s give tying the knot a little more meaning, and roll back the calendar to 7,000 B.C. when Celts joined in the bonds of matrimony with handfasting.

History of Handfasting

While handfasting is becoming part of the modern wedding ceremony, it originally created a formal engagement. Couples and their families would gather to enjoy a feast, and celebrate their engagement. During an engagement ceremony, a priest bound their hands together with a braided chord. The engagement lasted for a period of one year. During that time, they would reside together and test their relationship. After one year, the couple would return to the priest to either marry or dissolve their hand fast and choose another. The handfasting ritual was later adopted by Christian Irish as the exclusive method of marriage. Handfasting is still recognized as a legal marriage in some villages in Ireland and Scotland.


The Handfasting Chord

The handfasting chord is traditionally a braided rope; however, it can be made of silky ribbons or other fabrics. The cord must be long enough to wrap around the hands of the couple three times and tie a knot. One and a half yards in length is usually more than sufficient. The chord can be embellished with embroidery stitching or charm decorations, such as shamrocks or a horseshoe to represent luck. Many couples choose to coordinate the colors of the handfasting chord with wedding colors.

A Modern Handfasting Ceremony

The modern handfasting ceremony binds the hands of the couple as it did in ancient Celtic times. The couple holds hands while facing each other. The officiant wraps the chord three times around their hands while explaining the symbolism and meaning behind the ritual. There are many variations to the words spoken during the handfasting ceremony, and couples can create their own vows.

Writing Vows

Handfasting vows are a creative alternative to traditional vows. Couples can choose to exchange vows while their hands are still bound together. Regardless of the words chosen, the vows should be deeply connected to the idea that the couple is being bound together as one.


Legal Ceremony or Commitment Ceremony

Handfasting can be incorporated into a legally binding marriage ceremony or used to officially tie the knot during a commitment ceremony. Not everyone chooses to have a legal marriage, but for those that do, a wedding officiant is in order. The wedding officiant will help you through the process of obtaining your marriage license. They will also sign the license and file it with the court to make it legal. If you choose not to have a legal ceremony, the officiant still plays a very important role in your ceremony. While a commitment ceremony will lack legal status, it does not lessen the value of your ceremony or your relationship. Regardless of whether you choose a legal ceremony or a commitment ceremony, your wedding officiant will be the same director of your magical moments.

The Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom is an all-inclusive wedding venue with an in-house design team and planners that are dedicated to creating your unique wedding ceremony with all the wedding traditions that are important to you. Meet with our design team, and pick and plan the traditions and décor to create your handfasting ceremony.


We invite you to discover the
Crystal Ballroom difference found in the unparalleled elegance and uniqueness written into the design of each of our venues. The themes are as limitless as your imagination.

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