Photo by Jenna Fahey-White

Handfasting… HUH?

Handfasting isn’t super common in Australia, so it’s not necessarily a term that everyone is familiar with.

Though… have you ever heard the saying ‘Tie the knot?’ Well, rumour has it that this comes from the ancient tradition of handfasting.

Handfasting is where ribbons, cords, twine, or any type of fabric, are used to bind the hands together of a couple. It’s an ancient Celtic ritual, which gained popularity within pagan and wicca ceremonies in the early 60s. However, some couples choose a handfasting purely because they like the symbolism of it, rather than there being a spiritual or historical connection.

What happens during a handfasting

The couple hold their hands together, whilst the ties are placed, either by guests or by myself, over their clasped hands. These are then loosely tied, either by myself or a guests. Whilst the tying takes place, some words are read (again… either by myself or a guest), explaining the tradition of handfasting, and why the couple have chosen to incorporate this into their ceremony.

Although the handfasting can take place at any point during the ceremony, I usually place it after the exchange of rings. Once the handfasting has been completed, I ask the couple to slip their hands out of the cords, and place them on the signing table. Again, this can be done by myself or a family member.

What types of TIES to use?

  • Coloured ribbons, either plaited or loose, and these can be chosen as the colours have meaning which resonate
  • Fabric taken from clothing such as a relatives wedding dress
  • Tartan fabric which reflects a family clan
  • Ropes, twine or string
  • Lace, knitted wool, crocheted fabric


This is a really good question (actually, I wrote it, so I’ll give myself a pat on the back…).

I suggest at least 1.5 meters, and the thicker the fabric, the longer you’ll need as the tying aspect will reduce the overall length once tied.

What type of knot is used to tie?

Well, technically you can use whatever knot you would like.

Now, I’m no seafaring sailor, and the Girl Guides and Scouts didn’t tickle my teenage tastebuds, therefore my knotting skills are pretty limited. However, my favourite to use during a handfasting is the infinity knot (below).

Infinity Knot

It’s a reasonably basic knot, but can look pretty fancy as when the hands are released, you can frame the knot or keep it displayed somewhere in your home. Pretty neat, right?

Photo Ethereal Photography

What is said during the handfasting

You can get a family or friend involved with explaining what a handfasting is, or I can do this.

I usually explain a little about the history of handfasting, and you can combine this with a reading. One which I suggest is:

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.

These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Blessing of the Hands by Rev. Daniel L. Harris

What do you think? Keen? If so, feel free to contact me if you’d like a Handfasting included in your ceremony.

Loves and rockets,