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One of my most absolute FAVORITE pieces of the wedding puzzle is talking with couples about what their ceremony will actually LOOK like. What props are used, what colors are going to be in their pictures and what do you really want guests to see you do together. Who is involved and how can we bring YOU into it? A great symbolism and way to bring some personality to your ceremony is Handfasting…

 

Handfasting: The verb to handfast in the sense of “to formally promise, to make a contract” is recorded for Late Old English, especially in the context of a contract of marriage. The derived handfasting is for a ceremony of engagement or betrothal is recorded in Early Modern English. [Source]

Courtesy of Kelsea Joann Photography

Handfasting is a Celtic tradition where couples symbolically “Tie the Knot”
It is an actual physical act of binding the couple’s hands together with a length of cloth, a cord, string, or whatever might be available. The couple faces each other and clasps hands, right hand to right hand, left to left, making a figure eight, the infinity symbol. For a Celtic style handfasting, during the repeating of the vows, the cord is wrapped three times around the couple’s hands. Another more complex wrapping of the cord actually forms the infinity symbol with the cord wrapping across both if the couple’s hands, one side looping under one of the couple’s hands, the other side looping under the other one of the couple’s hands, then both ends tying in a knot on top of the clasped hands.

Images Courtesy of Kelsea Joann Photography

Handfasting Cords: Traditionally these are made in sets of three to represent specific meaning to the couple. Each then has a ceremonious tying which reads the same. 

The vows for each cord follow a style like this:

Groom, might you ever cause her pain?
I might…
Is that your intent?
No.
Bride, might you ever cause him pain?
I might…
Is that your intent?
No.
[To Both] Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
Yes.
And so the binding is made. (The Officiant drapes a cord across the couple’s hands.)

 

I also love that you can incorporate special people into this ceremony. You can have friends, family and even children come up and symbolically bind their parents together. The possibilities are truly endless and all beautiful for how you can write the ceremony wording and perform the actual tying. 

Courtesy of Kelsea Joann Photography

 The cords already hold so much meaning independently, but you can customize them by attaching special charms, and souvenirs from your relationship, thus creating even deeper and powerful meaning to each one. You don’t have to use just cords either. You can select any material you want to make it personal.

 
Tear shreds of cloth and have guests write on them as they arrive
Choose tokens of your life that represent symbolic events: child’s shoe lace, first date necklace, pieces of the blanket you sat on for your first kiss. 
Attach charms to threaded cords in your wedding colors
Make cords from thread that shares symbolic colors and determine your own meanings. 
Images Courtesy of Kelsea Joann Photography
Each cord does represent something for your union and the options are vast. My suggestion is to look at what other couples have done and modify the ceremony to tell your own love story. 
 
For more Inspirations….
Here is a fun read from Offbeat Bride about Color Coding your Cords
More Ceremony Wording and Color Meanings from Project Wedding
 

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