No, I mean LITERALLY. Most people these days have heard of a hand fastening but do we really know what they are?
Well for a start that is where the term “tying the knot” originates from so we all know more than we think immediately. Hand fastenings date back to the ancient Celts and are an ancient Pagan custom that are definitely having a revival with couples. It wasn’t originally part of the wedding ceremony but more connected to a typical engagement period. When a couple decided to marry they would be literally tied together for a period of a year in a sort of trial period. Maybe divorce rates may decline if we revived this part of the ancient tradition! So if the couple could still stand the sight of each other after the year then they would continue to marry. Seems sensible to me!
The actual act of binding the couples' hands together is a symbolic and physical representation of the unity of the couple as they are bound together. Although hand fastenings are most commonly used in Wiccan and Pagan ceremonies as part of a wedding ceremony these days they are becoming increasingly popular as a symbolism to include with a Celebrant style ceremony.
There are many different methods for executing the hand fastening depending on whether you follow the Wiccan or Pagan method or whether you just opt for your own take on it. The number of cords used, the type of cord, the type of knot , the way in which the hands are fastening and the material the cords are made from are all decisions that need to be made and are ultimately based on individual choice if you are not Wiccan or Pagan. However, if you are having either a Wiccan or Pagan hand fastening then all of the above are prescribed and extremely important. For example, 3 and 9 are considered magical numbers and often there will be 3 cords 9 feet in length and the colours will be red for passion, white for purity and blue for fidelity. In Celebrant led hand fastening couples usually decide on the material and colour of their cords based on their wedding colour scheme or their favourite colours and materials.
The couple could write their own hand fastening vows in addition to their wedding vows or the hand fastening could be incorporated into the usual wedding vows. The level of personalisation that is possible with a hand fastening is very high.
Once the hand fastening is complete the Celebrant will ask the couple to remove their hands from the cords and pull each end. The end result will be a beautiful knot of their chosen coloured cords that can act as a beautiful keepsake of the ceremony and the special day.
Celebrants are very good at helping couples to navigate their way through all of the options to arrive at a hand fastening that suits them. The end result should be a ceremony that is perfectly tailored to the couple and their wishes.
So now we feel a little bit more informed about a hand fastenings maybe we can all see that they can be for everyone and can be included beautifully in a wedding ceremony to create a lasting memory for the couple and all their guests.