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  • Writer's pictureLaura Bell

A simple guide to Handfasting

When it comes to planning your wedding ceremony, you may be interested in having a handfasting by a Celebrant instead of having a registrar. There are big differences between the two, the most obvious being content and time length.



Celebrants offer more flexibility and essentially create your ceremony with careful guidance from

you. We understand that every couple is different and so there will be different things you may wish to include, one of which is a symbolic ceremony ritual.


What is a symbolic ceremony ritual?



Rituals are elements that are included in wedding ceremonies symbolise your union as a couple /

family / blended family. They are a beautiful keepsake for you to treasure and remind you of your

special day.


I usually recommend to my couples to include no more than 2 or 3 rituals, depending on the length they would like the ceremony to be. The most popular option is for a handfasting or handtying, after personal vows.


Handfasting vs Handtying



Handfasting or handtying becomes more popular each wedding season. There are different ways

of doing both with a Handfasting typically being more spiritual as the Celebrant will call upon the

elements and likely have an alter to accompany and support the ritual.


Handfasting is of Celtic origin and people would often be handfasted with fabric strips made into a Handfasting chord instead of exchanging gold rings, which was reserved for royalty and wealth.

Handtying is adapted from this and you can discuss with your Celebrant which way of tying and

knotting suits you best.


You can choose fabrics, ribbons, charms and photo lockets to decorate and create your braid, or

you can have key guests drape ribbons over your hands. Some brides choose fabric from family

member’s wedding dresses or veils. You can also choose to have a blessing piece shared as your

hands are tied together.


Extended from this a very simple tying of the knot which is a simple to communicate your nuptials in photographs. Typically this is done after your vows and you can kiss and showcase your knot at the same time!


During a handtying or a simple tying of the knot, you may wish to provide your guests with shots as you do indeed, tie the knot which always goes down well and is a great way to include them within your ceremony.


Blessing of ribbons



What’s more, as they say “a wet knot is harder to untie” meaning rain on your wedding day is

actually lucky. If you are looking to include a handfasting or a handtying within your ceremony

content and the venue allows, your Celebrant can bless your chord or ribbons with water to

symbolise this.


Every handfasting is different and there are so many ways you can add this element into your bespoke ceremony with me. Whether you'd like to be more spiritual and have an alter to call upon the elements or do a very simple tying of 1 ribbon, the choice is yours.


Contact Celebrant Laura Bell


Laura Bell is a certified wedding celebrant based in Dorset but happy to travel within the South West of England and beyond.


Contact me to learn more about how you can upgrade your wedding ceremony to something that's all about you!


Photos: Sadie Osborne / Kirsty Hardiman Photography.



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