Traditionally, a Handfasting was performed by a priest or priestess, who would invoke the energies of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) to create a sacred circle in which the couple could be joined as embodiments of god and goddess. The cloth that bound their hands was usually the tartan plaid, representing the groom’s clan or family group.  The handfasting ceremony can also invoke the four directions: east, south, west, and north.

 One of lovely symbols about Handfasting is that it is also a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will, as well as stating their vows.

 Handfasting Ceremony 1

In this particular ceremony, six cords are draped over the couples’ hands, one for each vow made.

(you can make up your own vows of course… you don’t have to use the ones written here, and you don’t have to use six)

(Bride) and (Groom), know now before you go further,
that since your lives have crossed in this life,
you have formed eternal and sacred bonds.
As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive
to make real the ideals that to you, give meaning this ceremony
and to the institution of marriage.

With full awareness, know that within this circle
you are not only declaring your intent to be hand fasted before your friends and family,
but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.
The promises made today and the ties that are bound here
greatly strengthen your union
and will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth.

Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?

Yes.

(Groom) and (Bride), I bid you look into each others eyes.

Will you honor and respect one another,
and seek to never break that honor?

We will [the first cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the first binding is made.

Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
We will [Second cord is draped over the hands]
And so the binding is made

Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
We will [third cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the binding is made.

Will you share each other’s laughter, and look for the brightness in life
and the positive in each other?
We will. [forth cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the binding is made.

[Tie cords together]

(Bride) and (Groom), as your hands are bound together now,
so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.
Above you are the stars and below you is the earth.
Like the stars you love should be a constant source of light,
and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

(from this point the ceremony can move on to traditional vows and/or the traditional ring exchange)

Handfasting Ceremony 2:

[Bride and Groom] have chosen to conclude their ceremony with a traditional handfasting. This is a symbolic binding of the hands that inspired the terms "Bonds of Holy Matrimony" and to "Tie the knot" Throughout history in many different ways and in many different parts of the world, the hands of the bride and groom were bound as a sign of their commitment to one another. In many times rings were only for the very rich, while love knows no such bound. The cords are not permanent but perishable as a reminder that all things of the material eventually return to the earth, unlike the bond and the connection that is love which is eternals.

Please join your hands.

(Couple can choose to either hold hands and cord is wrapped around wrists in a figure 8 type fashion-the infinity symbol-or they hold elbows, Groom right to Bride left, and then bind over the forearm lose enough for them to drop into holding hands for the kiss as the cords make the figure 8 around their wrists, then make a comfortable exit.)

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.

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 comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief racks your mind. 

These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.

These are the hands that will give you support and encourage you to chase your dreams. Together, everything you wish for can be realized.

Your two hearts now beating as one, your two souls now deeply joined anew - walk forward together, forever hand in hand, May your marriage be a lifelong celebration of love! Now that the rituals are complete, you have made your promises, and exchanged your rings. May your lives together be filled with love and laughter. By the power vested in me as an Officiant and the laws of this Alberta, I now pronounce you husband and wife!

You may kiss the bride!

 

Handfasting Ceremony 3
Officiant: (Bride), will you share in (Groom)’s pain and seek to alleviate it?
Bride: I will.
Officiant: (Groom), will you share in (Bride’s) pain and seek to alleviate it?
Groom: I will.
Officiant: And so the binding is made.

Officiant:
(Bride), will you share in (Groom)’s  laughter and look for the brightness and the positive in her? (I will.)
(Groom), will you share in (Bride)’s  laughter and look for the brightness and positive in him? (I will.)
And so the binding is made.

Officiant:
(Bride), will you share in (Groom)’s burdens so that your spirits may grow in this union? (I will.)
(Groom), will you share in (Bride)’s burdens so that your spirits may grow in this union? (I will.)
And so the binding is made.

Officiant:
(Bride), will you share in (Groom)’s dreams? (I will.)
(Groom),, will you share in (Bride) ‘s dreams? (I will.)
And so the binding is made.

Officiant:
(Bride), will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union? (I will.)
(Groom), will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union? (I will.)
And so the binding is made.

Officiant:
(Bride), will you honor (Groom) as an equal in this union? (I will.)
(Groom),, will you honor (Bride) as an equal in this union? (I will.)
And so the binding is made.

Address, Continued

(Groom),  and (Bride), as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust. The bond of marriage is not formed by these cords, but rather by the vows you have made. For always you hold in your own hands the fate of this union. Above you are stars and below you is earth. Like stars your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

May these hands be blessed this day. May they always hold each other. May they have the strength to hang on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. May they build a relationship founded in love, and rich in caring. May these hands be healer, protector, shelter, and guide for each other. (The Hands of the Couple, Traditional Handfasting Prayer, unknown)

Handblessing Ceremony 4:

Handfasting Ceremony - Blessing
In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. 
Communication of the heart, mind, and body 
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. 
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. 
Warmth of hearth and home 
The heat of the heart's passion 
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. 
The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river 
The refreshing cleansing of the rain 
The all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North 
Firm foundation on which to build 
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives
A stable home to which you may always return.

Each of these blessings emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. 
Yet they are only tools.Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

Handfasting 5:

Together we will create your unique handfasting vows, using your choice of colors. If you are looking for examples of handfasting wording, please remember that each couple is unique and your handfasting unity ceremony will be yours alone.

Each vow comes with a separate binding:

"Will you share yourselves freely and generously with each other, making time to be together?"

"We will."

"The first binding is thus made with dark blue, symbolic of Water, that your love may flow and fill you to your depths." [The dark blue cord is draped over the couple's hands.]

"Will you each seek to ease the other's pain and suffering, sharing laughter and joy?"

"We will."

"The second binding is thus made with green, symbolic of Earth, that your love may be wise and nurturing, and your happiness abundant." [The green cord is draped over the couple's hands.]

"Will you strive to keep your romance alive through daily actions and words of encouragement?"

"We will."

"The third binding is thus made with red, symbolic of Fire, that your love may be bright and passionate." [The red cord is draped over the couple's hands.]

"Will you both help each other to grow in spirit and wisdom?"

"We will."

"The fourth binding is thus made with light blue, symbolic of Air, that your love may be as limitless as the sky, and filled with spirit." [The light blue cord is draped over the couple's hands. All four cords are tied together.]

"You are now bound together, your two lives joined by love and trust into one life."

 

Closing line:

I am yours and you are mine from this day until the end of our days.