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Which hand do you handfast with?

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that symbolizes the unity between two people. This ritual involves binding the hands of a couple together using cords or ribbons as they face each other. It is often used as an alternative to a traditional wedding ceremony and is popular in pagan or Wiccan communities.

The term “handfasting” itself comes from the phrase “tying the knot,” which has been used throughout history as a metaphor for marriage. The practice has deep roots in Celtic culture and has been practiced for centuries in Scotland, Ireland, and other Celtic regions. In modern times, it has become a popular way for couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other in a more personalized and meaningful way.

Which Hand Do You Handfast With?

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. In traditional Celtic handfasting, the right hands of the couple were tied together. This was because the right hand was seen as the hand of authority, power, and strength. However, in modern times, this tradition has become more flexible.

Today, many couples choose to tie their left hands together instead of their right. This is often because the left hand is seen as the hand of the heart. It is also a way to distinguish handfasting from traditional Christian weddings, where the groom typically places the wedding band on the bride’s left hand.

Another option is to tie both hands together, which symbolizes the complete union of two people. This is sometimes referred to as “double handfasting” or “triple handfasting” when the couple is joined by a third person to represent the divine or the elements.

Ultimately, the hand you choose to tie together during the handfasting ceremony is a personal decision. It can be based on tradition, symbolism, or simply what feels right for you and your partner. The most important thing is that the handfasting ceremony is meaningful for both of you.

What Does Handfasting Symbolize?

Handfasting is a powerful ritual that symbolizes union, commitment, and the bond between two people. The tying of the cord or ribbon around the hands represents the joining of two lives, while the act of facing each other signifies mutual respect and equality.

The cords or ribbons used in the ceremony can also have symbolism. For example, green ribbons could represent fertility, while blue ribbons could represent tranquility and peace. The colors and materials can be chosen for their significance to the couple and their relationship.

Often during the ceremony, vows are exchanged. These vows can be personalized to reflect the couple’s values and beliefs. They can also be a chance for the couple to express their commitment to each other in a way that is unique to them.

Handfasting can also be a way to honor loved ones who have passed away or to seek the blessings of the divine or the elements. For example, a couple may choose to involve their families or friends in the ceremony, or they may include elements such as the lighting of candles or the use of sacred stones.


Handfasting is a beautiful and meaningful way for couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other. It is a ritual that has been practiced for centuries in Celtic culture and has been adapted by modern couples to reflect their own beliefs and values.

Whether you choose to handfast with your left or right hand, or with both hands, the most important thing is that the ceremony is a reflection of your love and commitment to each other. The cords or ribbons used during the ceremony can be symbolic of your relationship, and the vows you exchange can be unique to you.

Handfasting is a powerful ritual that can bring couples closer together and create a deeper sense of connection and unity. It is a beautiful way to begin your journey together as partners in life.


What is the tradition of handfasting at a wedding?

Handfasting is a tradition that dates back to the ancient times and is still being used today in contemporary weddings. This symbolic unity ritual involves the tying of the couple’s hands together with a cord or ribbon during the wedding ceremony. The term itself comes from an ancient Norse word, which means “amphibian”, referring to the act of merging two elements. Hand-fasting has been an integral part of weddings in different cultures around the world for centuries and is still popular today, especially in pagan and Wiccan ceremonies.

The tradition of hand-fasting has its roots in Celtic and Pagan beliefs, where it was considered a legal and binding contract between two individuals. The ceremony signified a public acknowledgement of the couple’s commitment to each other as husband and wife. It was a simple and beautiful way of expressing love and commitment between two individuals beyond the confines of religion, nationality, and culture.

In modern times, one of the significant differences between a traditional handfasting ceremony and a typical Western wedding is that it isn’t typically recognised as a legally binding agreement, but it still carries a weighty emotional and spiritual significance. Many people who choose a handfasting ceremony do it as part of their cultural or spiritual beliefs.

During the ceremony, the couple stands before celebrants, friends, and family, with their hands being bound together, sometimes with cords or ribbons. The cords represent the connection between the couple, and their hands being tied symbolizes the joining of their lives together. The cords can be of different colors, each representing something specific and meaningful to the couple like love, happiness, endurance, family, and so on.

In some cultures, the length of the handfasting cords can also hold importance. Some couples may choose to have the knot loosely tied, symbolizing a temporary union that may be dissolved, while others may choose to have a tight knot that can only be undone by unraveling the cords, representing an unbreakable, eternal bond.

Handfasting can also be personalized according to the couple’s preferences, and some couples incorporate other elements into the ceremony, such as nature elements, musical acts, or even incorporate blessings, prayers, or other quotes that are meaningful to them.

The tradition of hand-fasting has been used in weddings to signify the union between two individuals in love. The ceremony’s significance goes beyond religion, nationality, or culture and provides a beautiful and simple way of expressing love and commitment. Handfasting rituals can vary between different cultures and individuals, but the significance of this symbolic unity ritual remains.

How do you officiate a handfasting ceremony?

Officiating a handfasting ceremony can be a beautiful and meaningful experience for both the couple and the officiant. Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that involves tying a ribbon or cord around the couple’s hands to symbolize their commitment to each other. The handfasting ceremony can be incorporated into a larger wedding ceremony or can stand alone as a separate commitment ceremony.

To officiate a handfasting ceremony, there are several key steps to follow:

1. Choose where to add the handfasting ritual in the ceremony.

The handfasting ceremony can be performed at any point during the wedding ceremony, depending on the couple’s preference. Some couples choose to have it as part of the opening rituals, while others prefer to have it as a focal point of the ceremony. It’s important to discuss with the couple where they would like to place the handfasting ritual in their ceremony.

2. Explain the symbolism of the ritual in the ceremony.

As the officiant, it’s important to explain the significance of the handfasting ritual to the couple and their guests. This can be done through a brief introduction or through a more detailed explanation of the history and meaning of handfasting. This will help everyone understand the symbolism of the ribbon or cord that will be used to symbolize the couple’s commitment to each other.

3. Tie a ribbon or cord around the couple’s hands.

The act of tying the ribbon or cord around the couple’s hands is central to the handfasting ceremony. The officiant can choose to use a pre-measured ribbon or cord, or can measure and cut it during the ceremony. The ribbon or cord should be long enough to wrap around both hands a few times so that it can be tied tightly.

4. Pronounce a blessing, prayer, or admonishment, and/or lead the couple in their vows.

Once the ribbon or cord has been tied around the couple’s hands, the officiant can offer a blessing, prayer, or words of admonishment to the couple. This is also a good opportunity for the couple to exchange their vows, if they haven’t already done so. The vows can be traditional or personalized to reflect the couple’s unique relationship.

5. Get the couple untied afterwards.

After the vows have been exchanged and the ceremony is complete, the ribbon or cord should be untied from the couple’s hands. The officiant should take care to do this gently and with reverence, as the act of untying the cord symbolizes the releasing of the couple from their commitment to each other.

Officiating a handfasting ceremony is a beautiful and meaningful way to help a couple celebrate their commitment to each other. By following these key steps, the officiant can help create a memorable and cherished moment for the couple and their guests.

How long does a handfasting marriage last?

Handfasting is an ancient ritual that is gaining popularity as an alternative wedding ceremony. This ceremony was practiced in different cultures, where couples would hold hands, wrists, or crossed fingers together and bind them with cords or ribbons in a symbolic act of binding their lives together. Many people wonder how long a handfasting marriage lasts, and the answer to this is not straightforward.

Traditionally, handfasting was valid for one year and one day, after which time the couple could continue with the relationship or part ways. After the year and day were up, the couple was free either to formalise the marriage, which meant they would have a civil or religious marriage, or the couple could simply go their separate ways. Nowadays, the length of a handfasting ceremony varies a lot depending on the couple or the celebrant they choose. It can be for a few hours, several days, months or years, depending on what the couple agrees on.

In modern times, handfasting usually lasts as long as the couple intends it to – it can be a lifelong commitment or for a specific period, such as a year and a day. Some may prefer shorter commitments, say a few months or a year, before deciding whether to formalise the union. It is essential to note that handfasting is not a legally binding marriage agreement or a substitute for a civil marriage license. A couple who wants to formalise their handfasting union legally still needs to obtain marriage licenses and seek the services of a civil or religious official.

How long a handfasting marriage lasts will depend on the couple’s choice and preferences. Some couples commit to forever while others prefer a shorter commitment and a chance to test their compatibility before a legal union. At the same time, a handfasting ceremony should not be seen as a stand-alone marriage as it is not recognised legally by the state, but instead, consider it as an alternative ceremony to celebrate love and commitment.

Is handfasting legal in the US?

Handfasting is a Celtic tradition that has gained popularity and is now becoming a widely recognized matrimonial ritual, especially in the United States. Handfasting is a symbolic union of two people where their hands are bound together with cords or ribbons to signify their commitment to each other. However, the question that arises is whether handfasting is legal in the US?

In the United States, handfasting is not considered a legally binding ceremony. It is not recognized as a valid form of marriage in most states, and thus, it does not provide any legal rights or protections to couples who participate in it. Even if the couple decides to exchange vows during the handfasting ceremony, they still have to obtain a marriage license and go through the proper legal channels to ensure that their union is legally recognized by the state.

Some proponents of handfasting argue that it does have legal validity in some states, such as Pennsylvania, where it is recognized as a “self-uniting marriage.” This means that couples can legally marry themselves by exchanging vows in the presence of witnesses without the need for a registered celebrant or religious leader. However, this is the only state where such a provision exists, and it is still subject to certain legal limitations.

In other states where handfasting is not recognized as a legal ceremony, couples who wish to participate in it can still do so as a non-legally binding ritual. They can have a separate legal wedding ceremony and then follow it up with a handfasting ceremony to symbolize their commitment to each other.

While handfasting is a beautiful and meaningful ceremony that has gained popularity in recent years, it is not legally binding in most states in the United States. Couples who wish to participate in handfasting can still do so as a non-legally binding ceremony, but they still need to obtain a marriage license and have a separate legal wedding ceremony to ensure that their union is recognized by the state.

What is the significance of handfasting?

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that symbolizes the binding together of two individuals, typically in the context of a marriage or commitment ceremony. The practice involves tying a knot with a cord made of various materials, such as ribbon, rope, or vine, around the wrists or hands of the couple. The act of binding their hands together represents the union and commitment of the two individuals to each other.

The origins of handfasting can be traced back to the pre-Christian era, when marriages were often arranged and contracted based on practical considerations, such as financial or social status. Handfasting, on the other hand, was rooted in the idea of love and connection between two people, and was often seen as a more meaningful and spiritual way of uniting.

In addition to its symbolic significance, handfasting also held legal weight in certain traditions. In medieval times, for example, it was recognized as a valid form of marriage in Scotland and Ireland. Couples who had undergone handfasting were considered to be legally married for a year and a day, after which they could either choose to renew their vows or part ways.

Today, handfasting has regained popularity as a way of honoring the ancient traditions and adding a meaningful element to wedding ceremonies. Couples may choose to incorporate handfasting as part of their exchange of vows or as a standalone ritual. The cords used in handfasting ceremonies may be imbued with special meanings, such as the couple’s shared values or intentions for their marriage.

Handfasting can also be seen as a way of symbolizing the commitment to the ongoing effort required to maintain a strong and healthy relationship. Just as the cords of the handfasting knot are intertwined, so too are the lives and paths of the two individuals joined together in love and partnership. The binding of their hands serves as a reminder of the connection and mutual support that they have pledged to each other, and the ongoing work needed to keep that bond strong.

Overall then, handfasting is a meaningful and symbolic tradition that has been passed down through the ages. Whether rooted in ancient pagan beliefs, medieval legal customs, or modern-day wedding ceremonies, it serves as a testament to the power of love, connection, and commitment between two individuals.

What do the colors of the Handfast cords mean?

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic custom in which a couple publicly declares their intent to marry through a symbolic binding of hands. This ritual usually involves the use of cords, ribbons, or other materials that are tied around the couple’s hands. These cords are often braided and come in different colors that have specific meanings.

For a three-cord handfasting, the most common colors are white, blue, and red. These colors symbolize purity, fidelity, and passion, respectively. The white cord represents the purity of the couple’s intention to start a new life together. It signifies a fresh start and a clean slate, free from past relationships, bad habits, or negative energy.

The blue cord symbolizes the couple’s commitment to each other and their fidelity. It represents the loyalty and trust that the couple has for each other. It also signifies the importance of communication and honesty in a relationship.

The red cord represents passion and the physical attraction between the couple. It symbolizes the desire and intensity that they have for each other. The red cord also represents the fire and energy that will sustain the couple’s love throughout their lives.

Aside from these colors, there are also other colors that can be used for handfasting cords. For example, green represents growth and fertility, while purple represents spiritual strength. Gold, on the other hand, represents wisdom and prosperity. These colors can be used to add more depth and meaning to the handfasting ceremony.

The colors of the handfasting cords have specific meanings that represent different aspects of a relationship. White represents purity, blue represents fidelity, and red represents passion. Other colors such as green, purple, and gold can also be used to add more symbolism to the ritual. Through the use of these colors, a handfasting ceremony becomes more than just a symbolic binding of hands, but a meaningful declaration of the couple’s love and commitment to each other.