Traditionally, a Handfasting was performed by a priest or priestess, who would invoke the energies of the four elements to create a sacred circle in which the couple could be joined as embodiments of god and goddess. The cloth that bound their hands was usually the tartan plaid, representing the groom’s clan or family group. One of lovely symbols about Handfasting is that it is also a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will, as well as stating their vows. In this particular ceremony, six cords are draped over the couples’ hands, one for each vow made.
(you can make up your own vows of course… you don’t have to use the ones written here, and you don’t have to use six)
(Bride) and (Groom), know now before you go further,
that since your lives have crossed in this life,
you have formed eternal and sacred bonds.
As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive
to make real the ideals that to you, give meaning this ceremony
and to the institution of marriage.
With full awareness, know that within this circle
you are not only declaring your intent to be hand fasted before your friends and family,
but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.
The promises made today and the ties that are bound here
greatly strengthen your union
and will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth.
Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?
Invoking The Four Directions
In many cultures it is believed that the human soul shares characteristics with all things divine.
It is this belief which assigned virtues to the four cardinal directions;
East, South, West and North.
It is according to this belief that we align ourselves with these elements.
Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes
those things which will help you build a happy and successful union.
[Guests are invited to stand and face the four directions]
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East and the element of Air,
for openness and breath, communication of the heart,
and purity of the mind and body.
From the east you receive the gift of a new beginning
with the rising of each Sun, and the understanding
that each day is a new opportunity for growth.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South and the element of fire,
for energy, passion, creativity and the warmth of a loving home.
From the fire within you generate light, which you will share
with one another in even the darkest of times.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West, the element of water,
for your capacity to feel emotion.
In marriage you offer absolute trust to one another,
and vow to keep your hearts open in sorrow as well as joy.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North, the element of earth,
which provides sustenance, fertility and security.
The earth will feed and enrich you, and help you to build a stable home
to which you may always return.
[guests are seated]
Binding of Hands
(Groom) and (Bride), I bid you look into each others eyes.
Will you honor and respect one another,
and seek to never break that honor?
We will [the first cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the first binding is made.
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
We will [Second cord is draped over the hands]
And so the binding is made
Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
We will [third cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the binding is made.
Will you share each other’s laughter, and look for the brightness in life
and the positive in each other?
We will. [forth cord is draped over the couples’ hands]
And so the binding is made.
[Tie cords together]
(Bride) and (Groom), as your hands are bound together now,
so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.
Above you are the stars and below you is the earth.
Like the stars you love should be a constant source of light,
and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.
(from this point the ceremony can move on to traditional vows and/or the traditional ring exchange)