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What is Irish handfasting?

The unity ceremony during weddings is one of the most significant parts of the event. It signifies the unity of two souls, their commitment to each other, and the start of their journey together. There are various unity ceremonies practiced around the world, but one that’s gaining popularity nowadays is the Irish Handfasting.

What is Handfasting?

Handfasting is a centuries-old Celtic tradition that was regularly performed in Ireland, Scotland, and other parts of Europe. It’s a wedding ritual where the couple’s hands get bound together to symbolize their commitment to their relationship.

What Happens During Irish Handfasting?

Unlike the usual wedding ceremony, the handfasting ritual is usually conducted by a spiritual leader, a priest, or a shaman, who wraps a ribbon, cord, or a rope around the bride and groom’s hands. The material used is significant as it represents the strength of the bond between the couple.

The couple’s hands are joined while standing in front of their guests. They face each other, and their hands get bound together by the officiant. Afterward, they recite their vows, and the guests witness as they make their commitment to spend the rest of their lives together.

The knot tied by the priest is a sign of the couple’s unity, and it represents that they have made a lifelong commitment to each other. The couples exchange their wedding rings before the handfasting gets untied.

The Significance of Irish Handfasting

Irish Handfasting can be used as a symbol of commitment in other ceremonies, including civil partnerships, initiation, and vow renewals. The practice has grown in popularity in modern times due to the ceremony’s appeal to persons interested in spiritual and alternative wedding ceremonies.

For those interested in exploring Irish heritage, the ceremony presents a great opportunity to connect with ancient Celtic traditions. The traditional handfasting ceremony was for a year and a day, after which they either renewed their commitment or went their separate ways.

In Celtic traditions, binding people’s hands is considered a ritual of great significance. The couple’s hands symbolize their companionship, mutual support, and commitment.

How to Create Your Own Handfasting Ceremony

If you’re interested in creating your handfasting ceremony, you can consider the following steps:

Step 1: Determine Your Motivation

The first thing you must figure out is why you want to hold a handfasting ceremony. Discuss your reasons with your partner and how you both want to remember it.

Step 2: Choose a Location

The ideal handfasting location would be outdoors, in an area that has sentimental value or one that speaks to your values or beliefs.

Step 3: Choose an Officiant

Handfasting can be conducted by a priest, shaman, or any other person who holds spiritual significance to you.

Step 4: Choose a Cord or Rope

Look for a ribbon, cord, or rope that represents your personality or values. You can also opt for a color that is meaningful to your relationship or represents the meaning of your commitment.

Step 5: Exchange of Vows

You can create your vows or choose from a collection that’s available online. The vows should represent your love, honor, and commitment to each other.

Step 6: Binding Your Hands

The officiant will bind your hands together with the cord, and you will both face each other, holding hands.

Step 7: After the Ceremony

You can choose to untie the cord immediately after the ceremony, or you can keep it tied until another symbolic event like the birth of a child or anniversary.


Irish Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that has become increasingly popular in modern times. The ceremony signifies the union between two persons, their commitment, and mutual support for each other. While the tradition may seem archaic, it still holds significance to modern couples and can be an essential part of a couple’s journey together.


What is the difference between wedding and handfasting?

Weddings and handfastings are two types of ceremonies that are often used to celebrate a union between two people. Although both ceremonies are similar in purpose, there are some differences to consider when choosing which ceremony to have.

Weddings are typically recognized as a legal union between two people. They are usually officiated by a justice of the peace, a priest, a minister, or some other religious official. The ceremony usually involves a series of vows and rituals that are designed to symbolize the couple’s commitment to each other. Weddings are often formal affairs, with guests dressing up and following a structured program of events.

On the other hand, handfastings are more informal and relaxed. They are usually performed by a member of the pagan community or someone who is knowledgeable in pagan traditions. Handfastings have roots in Celtic traditions and were originally used to symbolize a temporary commitment, lasting for a year and a day. Today, they are often used as an alternative to traditional weddings, and they can be tailored to suit the couple’s preferences.

Another key difference between weddings and handfastings is the length of the ceremony. Weddings are typically fairly short, usually lasting between 20 and 30 minutes. Handfastings, on the other hand, can last up to an hour or more. This is because they often involve more rituals, such as the binding of hands with a cord, the sharing of wine or food, and the exchange of rings or other symbolic gifts.

Despite these differences, weddings and handfastings both serve the same purpose: to celebrate the love and commitment between two people. Whether you choose a traditional wedding or a more non-traditional handfasting, both ceremonies offer a way to express and honor the depth of your feelings for your partner.

Is handfasting a legal marriage in Ireland?

Handfasting is a traditional Celtic marriage ceremony that involves binding the hands of a couple together with cords or ribbons to signify their commitment to each other. It has been a part of Irish culture for centuries, and in the past was considered a legal marriage.

Although handfasting is no longer legally recognized as a binding marriage ceremony in most places, it is still practiced today as a symbolic gesture of commitment in many parts of the world. However, it is interesting to note that in some remote villages in Ireland and Scotland, handfasting is still considered a legal and binding form of marriage.

To be recognized as a legal marriage, the couple needed to make a verbal declaration of their consent to be hand-fasted to each other in the presence of at least one witness. The witness would then tie the knot or cords to bind the hands of the couple together to signify the commencement of their relationship.

It is essential to note that while handfasting may still be considered valid in some remote parts of Ireland and Scotland, it is not legally recognized in most other places. Therefore, if you are planning on handfasting as a way of celebrating your love and commitment to each other, it is essential to check with the local authorities on the legality of the marriage ceremony.

While handfasting is no longer legally recognized as a binding marriage ceremony in Ireland, it continues to be widely practiced as a symbolic gesture of commitment in many parts of the world. However, if you are planning to use it as a legal form of marriage ceremony, it’s best to check with the local authorities and confirm its legality.

Is handfasting against Christianity?

Handfasting is a significant ritual that involves binding the hands of a couple together, symbolizing their commitment to each other. It is a practice that dates back to ancient Celtic cultures and is commonly associated with Paganism. However, the question of whether handfasting is against Christianity is a matter of interpretation and personal beliefs.

Handfasting ceremonies were traditionally performed in pre-Christian Europe, but as Christianity spread across the continent, many elements of Paganism were absorbed into the new religion. Over time, handfasting became less associated with Paganism and more a part of secular and spiritual weddings.

Many Christians today view handfasting as an alternative to traditional wedding ceremonies and a way to express one’s individuality while still honoring their faith. Some pastors and priests perform handfasting ceremonies and see them as an opportunity to include meaningful rituals in the wedding ceremony.

On the other hand, some Christians associate handfasting with witchcraft and consider it a practice that goes against their faith. They may see it as a Pagan or New Age practice that is not in line with the teachings of the Bible.

It is important to note that there is no specific mention of handfasting in the Bible. Therefore, whether handfasting is against Christianity or not ultimately comes down to personal interpretation. Like any other practice, it is up to each individual Christian to decide whether it aligns with their beliefs and values.

Handfasting is a ritual that has evolved over time and is now associated with various beliefs and practices. While some Christians may see it as against their faith, others view it as a meaningful and spiritual addition to their wedding ceremony. whether handfasting is against Christianity is a matter of personal beliefs and interpretation.

What is the Irish wedding blessing?

The Irish wedding blessing is a traditional prayer used during wedding ceremonies in Ireland, often recited during the exchanging of vows or after the couple has been pronounced married. The blessing is typically spoken by an officiant or a family member as a way to offer well wishes and positive energy to the couple on their special day.

The wedding blessing reads as follows: “May the meaning of this hour be fulfilled through the days and years to come. May the love of this man and this woman, their unity of spirit, grow deeper and stronger in the uncertainties and changes of life they will share.”

The blessing reflects the belief in the importance of love and commitment, even in the face of life’s challenges and uncertainties. It also emphasizes the unity of spirit between the newly married couple, recognizing that their love will continue to evolve and grow over time.

The Irish wedding blessing has become a popular tradition during modern wedding ceremonies, both in Ireland and around the world, and is often included in wedding programs or on printed materials. It is a symbol of the blessings of luck and happiness that the couple hopes for in their shared future.