The Practical Side of the Handfasting Ceremony
By Vlady Peters
There’s an awful lot of information about the Handfasting ceremony. Libraries carry books on the subject, specialty shops are selling special ribbons and cords for the ceremony itself, and they’re even producing boxes and porringers which are perfect for holding the ribbons. Yet there are some practicalities that make the Handfasting ceremony something of a challenge. How do you handle all those cords or ribbons before, during and after the ceremony?
If you’ve thought about the Handfasting ceremony but decided you know too little about it to go ahead, here’s the practical information you need to make it all happen smoothly and naturally.
1. Cords are easier to handle, so go for those rather than ribbons. However, if you’re only going to have one, it could be anything from a ribbon to an exotic piece of material.
2. If you don’t want them carried in a container by your attendants, place them on the table with the rest of the paraphernalia either hanging across the table, or in a box or bowl.
3. Decide whether you want to use just one cord, or half a dozen.
4. If you use ribbons, you can have them tied, or wrapped around your wrist. If you have cords, you could have a slip knot which can slide up like a noose.
5. Decide who will do the tying – the celebrant or your attendants. If you’re using a number of cords, you could have each one tied by a different attendant – male and female alternately.
6. When the tying is in the process have either the celebrant speak, explaining what each cord stands for, or leave a card for each of the attendants with the cord. Each attendant will pick up the cord and read the words from the card.
7. Have a rehearsal. The whole handfasting ceremony. Begin where the celebrant calls the name of the attendant, the attendant walks to pick up the cord, returns with the cord, ties the couple’s hands, and walks back to his or her place. All the actions should be done slowly and ceremoniously. You might even consider having background music while it’s happening.
8. Inevitably, the cords need to be taken off before the signing of the register. But here’s a thought. Although normally hands are tied crossed – bride’s right hand in groom’s right hand – you might like to consider this. Have only your inside hands tied – that is if the groom is on the bride’s right arm, her right hand, and his left hands are tied. If that happens, instead of removing the cords before the signing, you could continue to be tied during the signing. Probably make great photographs.
9. After the signing you return to where the ceremony began and are introduced as husband and wife. Before that happens, you could make the same ceremony out of the untying, as you did with the tying. Again, everything should be done slowly, and perhaps the celebrant could be saying something then, as s/he did when the tying was taking place.
10. As each cord is untied, it is returned to the place from which the attendant took it in the first place. When the whole wedding party is back in place, the celebrant greets the couple, and invites everyone to come up and give their best wishes to them.
And that says it all.
Vlady Peters is an Australian Civil Marriage Celebrant authorized to perform marriage in Australia. She also performs general ceremonies such as Baby Naming, Renewal of Vows and Commitment Ceremonies. To learn more about Vlady, visit her at http://www.weddings-celebrant.com