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What is Handfasting?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Handfasting has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to the time of the ancient Celts, and is thought to be where the phrase "tying the knot" came from!

Some say it was originally a form of engagement, marking a period of betrothal of a year and a day. Nowadays, many couples choose to incorporate it as part of their Wedding Ceremony, or as a stand-alone ritual as a way to celebrate a Renewal of Vows.

Although Pagan in origin, many people don't realise that church weddings often incorporate a type of handfasting at the point where the priest/vicar wraps a stole around the couple's hands and says: 'Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder' - beautifully illustrated here by William and Kate:

You could choose any sort of cord or ribbon and, sometimes, several lengths of different coloured cord or ribbon are plaited together to reflect particular elements of your life together, or simply to match your overall colour-scheme.

There are many different interpretations of the meaning of various colours, but some of the most common are:

  • Red: passion, strength

  • Orange: encouragement, kindness

  • Yellow: confidence, joy

  • Green: fertility, health

  • Blue: patience, sincerity

  • Purple: piety, sentimentality

  • Black: strength, wisdom

  • White: purity, peace

  • Gray: neutrality, balance

  • Pink: truth, happiness

  • Brown: earth, home

  • Silver: creativity, inspiration

  • Gold: energy, longevity

By using a Celebrant, handfasting can be incorporated into any ceremony in a way which works best for you, and will often give your guests something they have never seen before!

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