Your Handfasting Ceremony Explained

A handfasting is a traditional wedding ceremony that dates from very early times in Ireland and Scotland, so it has a long and venerable history. The term originates from the Old Norse hand-festa (to join hands, to be betrothed). The ceremony usually involved the couple's clasped hands being lightly bound with cords or ribbon at a point in the proceedings. This symbolised their union. It also gave rise to the phrase to tie the knot.

(Photo by Matt Statkiewicz

You do not have to be Scottish or Irish to have a handfasting. We have conducted ceremonies for couples from all over the world.
Handfastings appeal to people from all walks of life and varied spiritual paths. Ceremonies can be tailored to comply with their own spiritual values. We have extensive experience of creating ceremonies for couples of mixed faith backgrounds. But even those who are not particularly religious can have a Handfasting. Many people simply respect the spiritual power of Nature, which is why a lot of these weddings are performed outdoors in castle grounds, estates and woodlands or by beautiful features such as rivers and waterfalls. The ceremony can be Scottish or Irish themed or nature based, or a combination of these. As such weddings have no strict form, they provide the perfect choice for couples who wish to have a wedding with elements that suit them personally from start to finish. This allows couples to make the ceremony truly their own by adding details that suit their personal requirements, such as wording their own vows or adding a reading such as a poem or a passage from a book that has special meaning for them.

Another aspect of a handfasting that can be included is jumping over a broomstick together at the end of the ceremony. The broom symbolises hearth and home. It also signifies making a clean sweep and embarking on a new life together.

And as Handfastings are now fully valid under Scots Law, anyone visiting from the US, Canada, England, or indeed anywhere else, can be legally wed in Scotland. They can then return to their home countries where their newly married state lawfully applies. For more information on getting married in Scotland please click on the link to the Scottish Government webpage in our Links section.

Lighting the Unity Candle, Linlithgow Palace, June 2009

After the exchange of rings, Elie June 2010


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