The Celebrant angel aberdeen logo angel wings with scrolly writing the celebrant angel

Hand-fasting Ceremony

In Celtic tradition, a hand-fasting ceremony would be for a year and a day. If the couple survived this year and a day together and wanted to stay together, they were considered married.

Have you ever been to a wedding where the couple did a Hand-fasting during their ceremony?

Want to learn what the hand-fasting ceremony is all about?

Keep reading, and let me show you how handfasting could fit into your wedding ceremony.

A Hand-fasting ceremony is a symbolic ritual usually used in a wedding ceremony that binds a couple’s hands together using cords or ribbons, often of different colours.

The ritual symbolises the joining of the couple.

Hand-fasting is a wedding ritual that goes way back in time, some say to 7000 BC.

It remains one of the more popular rituals for wedding ceremonies.  Perhaps due to TV and films including it in their wedding scenes.

Ever watched Braveheart?  I bet there aren’t many who haven’t.

William and Murron had a hand-fasting ceremony; remember that bit? Wasn’t that so romantic?

Films like Braveheart have taken symbolic rituals from ancient history back into the modern-day wedding. It’s beautiful to see history blended with the modern.


What is Hand-fasting?

A hand-fasting ceremony involves quite literally tying the knot.

Hand-fasting involves joining the couple’s hands and wrists so that the pulse points are together.

Tradition saw it used by couples promised to each other, an engagement of sorts, without the ring.

In Celtic tradition, the binding would be for a year and a day. If the couple survived this year and a day together and wanted to stay together,  they were considered married.

It is actually thought that is where ‘tying the knot’ came from.

Whilst hand-fasting is not legally binding, it’s a beautiful old tradition that can be woven into our modern-day weddings.

It still signifies commitment between two people and the union of their love.

There are no rules on how you use the symbolic ritual during your ceremony. We can tailor that to your wishes.


What do you use for the hand-fasting ties?

The ties for a handfasting ceremony can be made from various materials:- vines, ropes, cords or ribbons or any other material.

Again, there are no rules on what you use for the ties, as long as they are long enough to wrap around the wrists and tie up into a knot. You can use anything of your choice.

We recommend that the cords are at least two meters long each, which allows for looping them around your hand and wrists.

It is very easy to make plaited ribbons for your handfasting ceremony, something you could get members of the family to do for you perhaps?


How many ties are used in a handfasting?

There are no hard and fast rules for how many ties or ribbons you have to use in a handfasting ceremony.

This can depend on whether you have family and friends involved in your ceremony’s handfasting part.

If you wanted to include both your parents in the handfasting, you would have one for yourselves and one for each set of parents.

So how many you have is dependent on whom you include in that part of your ceremony.

Photo of a couple doing a hand-fasting ceremony  with the celebrant angel aberdeen

How do you do Handfasting?

The most popular way of handfasting is to have the couple hold hands, facing each other with their pulse points touching.

But you can also do it side by side.

The cords are then wrapped around their wrists, binding them as one. This can be tied as many as six times around the wrists; some couples choose to repeat a vow for each bind.


Does it matter what colour tie I use?

No, it doesn’t matter what colour the ties are.  Some couples have ties that match their outfits.

You can add further meaning to your cords by putting some thought into the material you might use for the ceremony.

For example, if you still have the clothes you wore for your first date, a strip of fabric from them would be a perfect addition to the ceremony, or if your parents have something from their wedding, it might be nice to include that.


There are various meanings behind the colours of the bindings.

  • Red is for passion
  • Orange is for kindness.
  • Yellow is for joy
  • Green is for health
  • Blue is for tranquillity and sincerity.
  • Purple is for Sentimentality
  • Black is for strength and wisdom.
  • White is for peace and meditation.
  • Pink is for romance and happiness.
  • Brown is for the earth and home.
  • Silver is for creativity and values.
  • Gold is for energy and intelligence.

Just remember, though, there are no rules to having these colours in your ties; they are yours to design for you as a couple.

The knots

There are various kinds of knots, which celebrants are familiar with, for example, infinity knots, lovers knots, trinity knots, to name a few.

Each has its own meaning, so symbolically, one may suit you more than others, so it’s worth looking into if you enjoy the potential for meaning levels in these types of ceremony.

  • An Infinity knot symbolizes immortality, continuity, eternal reproduction.
  • The lover’s knot or love knot has a long history of being a symbol of love. It represents the unbreakable bond and the eternal connection between two lovers. … The Celtic knots consist of unbroken loops with no beginning and end, symbolizing eternity like the love between a married couple.
  • Trinity knots symbolize and honour the Mother, Maiden and Crone of the neo-pagan triple goddess. It signifies the three life-cycles of a woman in relation to the phases of the moon.


When does it happen in a ceremony?

Hand-fasting can be done at any point in your ceremony that you like, but it’s lovely to see it being done before the vows so that the couple are tied together as they exchange their vows.

If you want to include a friend or family member in another way during your handfasting, they could do a reading whilst you are bound together or being bound together.

A celebrant will work with you to make sure it’s at the right part of the ceremony for you though.

If you think a Handfasting is for you, then set about planning yours.

  • Get creative.
  • Use your imagination.
  • Be inspiring.
  • And always be yourselves!


If a Hand-fasting ceremony is something that resonates with you for your wedding ceremony and you would like to know more about including a Hand-fasting in your ceremony then please drop me a message, and let me tell you a bit more about it

photo of hand-fasting ribbon hand-fasting ceremony with the celebrant angel

William Wallace: I want a wife, and children, and to grow crops, but it’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom

How To Keep Relationships Alive

How To Keep Relationships Alive

The Celebrant Angel, Aberdeen24 Sept 2021 How To Keep Relationships Alive Whether you are in a new relationship and want to learn how to keep the spark alive or you’ve been with your partner for a while, we all want to keep the relationship alive. We often think that...

Choosing Your Wedding Menu

Choosing Your Wedding Menu

Choosing Your Wedding MenuFood is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together.Choosing Your Wedding Menu Choosing your wedding menu is often a difficult task causing some stress for couples. As a nation of food lovers, the...

Name Change Checklist

Name Change Checklist

Name Change ChecklistThe decision on whether to change your name after marriage or a civil partnership is a profoundly personal one. But there are legal documents that will need to change from your maiden name.You've got a new name! As Shakespeare famously said...