Unity rituals are a great way to add an extra layer of meaning to your wedding ceremony before exchanging rings and vows. From lighting candles to layering colors of sand, there's a wedding ceremony ritual to fit every couple's style. One of the most popular options is the handfasting ceremony, but what is it exactly? Here's an explanation from our experts.
A handfasting ceremony has its roots in ancient Celtic tradition, symbolizing the binding together of two people (and the origin of the phrase "tying the knot!"). While it is most often included in Wiccan or Pagan ceremonies, today, it has become more mainstream and pops up alongside both religious and secular vows and readings.
During the ceremony, the officiant begins by explaining the ritual and what it means to the couple. This statement often includes the notion of the couple binding their lives together and the union of their hopes and desires. The officiant then invites the couple to join hands, which symbolizes their free will to enter into the marriage. Many opt to cross hands, taking your fiancé's right hand in your right hand and his left hand in your left hand. You could also opt to stand next to one another, joining one of your right hands with the other's left, and have your hands bound that way, around your wrists.
From here, the officiant reads a series of vows as cords are wrapped around the couple's hands. You could opt to use a separate cord for each vow, or twist or braid together a few cords and wrap them as one around your hands. Then, your officiant may make an additional statement about the completion of the binding and the commitment it symbolizes.
After your hands are bound, you can proceed to exchange additional vows, or use your handfasting as the vows you'll exchange and move directly to the ring exchange.