salem ma wedding, what is a handfasting?

Hi everyone, happy Friday and welcome back to the blog. I know it has been a minute since I posted here. If you follow me over on my main website, Things to do in Salem, you’d know I was feeling sick and under the weather for a week or two. I have also been working hard behind the scenes on tons of stuff which I am excited to share with you all. I am happy to be back on track and ready with content for this website again. Thanks for your patience!!

Anyways…what is a handfasting? Today we are going to chat a little about handfasting basics.

What is a handfasting?

“Handfasting is a Celtic ritual that symbolizes unity. The tradition involves a couple’s hands being tied together with cords or ribbons as they face each other (you can also stand side by side and tie your right hand and your partner’s left hand together or vice versa). Vows are typically exchanged as the hands are bound together.”

The History Behind Handfasting

“In ancient times, handfasting was actually an engagement ritual. When two people chose to be married, they partook in a handfasting ceremony with a priest. This signified their engagement, which typically lasted one year. Once the year was up, the couple returned to the priest and declared if they were going to get married or separate.

Today, handfasting is performed at the wedding to signify the couple’s love and commitment. While it’s commonly conducted at Pagan and Wiccan ceremonies, it has become popular among all couples (since the symbolism behind tying your hands together resonates with many people).”

What does a handfasting ceremony entail?

“During a handfasting ceremony, the officiant will start by explaining the purpose of the ritual. Next, the couple will join hands. You can place your hands into each other’s, stack them or intertwine them—whatever feels right to you. Then, the officiant will read the vows as they wrap the cords or ribbons around the couple’s hands. Once the hands are wrapped, the officiant will further explain the symbolism behind the binding. Finally, the couple may exchange additional vows while bound together.

While the ceremony is usually led by the officiant, many couples choose to involve their family members or friends. For example, you could give four different people four different cords or ribbons to tie. It’s a creative way to get your loved ones involved (especially if you don’t have a wedding party).”

[Source for above info]

What do you need for a handfasting?

For a handfasting, you’ll need the following items:

  • Cords or ribbon
  • (Optional) Small charms and tokens that can tie into the cord or ribbon
  • (Optional) A box or chest to store the cord or ribbons in afterwards

Some things to consider when creating your handfasting cords/ribbons

  • You may want to match the colors of the cords or ribbons to the color theme you chose for your wedding.
  • You could alternatively choose colors for the cords or ribbons based off of the metaphysical correspondences of those colors. For example red for passionate love, green for health, blue for calmness and peace or black for protection.
  • When selecting charms or tokens (if you choose to do so), pick ones that symbolize happiness in your relationship and represent your love. For example, if you got engaged in Salem, MA maybe consider including a charm of a small witch or witch’s hat. If you share wonderful memories of a trip to Paris with your partner, maybe consider including a charm of the Eiffel tower. You get the idea. Add items that are significant to you both.

What about picking an officiant?

Choosing someone to perform your handfasting ceremony isn’t that different than any other ceremony. I would, however, read reviews online and possibly look for someone who notes on their website that they do handfasting ceremonies.

Anyways – there you have it! A basics on handfasting ceremonies. I hope this helps get you started in the right direction and best of luck on your big day.






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