Here's an idea for giving your wedding ceremony a unique feeling with an ancient ritual known as Handfasting.
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 the things many appreciate 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, four 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 four...):
Sample Handfasting Ceremony:
Good afternoon, and welcome to the ceremony that will unite John and Susan in marriage. We gather here today to celebrate their union, and to honor their commitment to not just gazing at one another, but to looking outward together in the same direction.
Today John and Susan proclaim their love to the world, and we rejoice with and for them.
In marriage, we give ourselves freely and generously into the hands of the one we love, and in doing so, each of us receives the love and trust of the other as our most precious gift. But even as that gift is shared by two people who are in love, it also touches the friends and family members who in various ways support and contribute to the relationship.
All of you are John and Susan's community, and each of you has played some part in bringing them to this moment. This is why gathering as a community is such an important part of a wedding ceremony. Because John and Susan now take a new form as a married couple, and in this form, they become part of their community in a new way.
John and Susan, we are here to rejoice with you, and to recount with one another that it is love that guides us on our path, and to celebrate as you begin this journey together.
It is in this spirit that you come here to today to exchange these vows.
Wedding rings are made precious by our wearing of them.
Your rings say that even in your uniqueness you have chosen to be bound together.
Let these rings also be a sign that love has substance as well as soul, a present as well as a past, and that despite its occasional sorrows, love is a circle of happiness, wonder, and delight.
Susan, take John's ring and put it on his finger, and repeat after me:
Just as this circle is without end, my love for you is eternal /
Just as it is made of indestructible substance /
my commitment to you will never fail /
With this ring I take you to be my trusted confidante /
and partner for life. /
[REPEAT FOR John]
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. The energy of each element emphasizes those things that will help you build a happy and successful union.
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, 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 in even the darkest of times.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West, the element of water, for our 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.
Edgar & Cheryl give the cords.
Susan and John have chosen to incorporate the ancient ritual of Handfasting into their wedding ceremony today.
Traditionally it was performed by a priest or priestess, who would invoke the energies of the four natural elements to create a sacred circle in which the couple are joined as embodiments of god and goddess. Handfasting is a very powerful declaration of intent, where bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will.
Susan and John, know before you go further, that since your lives have crossed in this life, you have formed eternal and sacred bonds.
And as you enter this marriage, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be handfasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.
Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?
Susan and John, I bid you look into each other's eyes.
Will you honor and respect one another, and seek to never break that honor?
[First cord is draped over the couples' hands]
And so the first binding is made.
Susan and John, Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?
[Second cord is draped over the couples' hands]
And so the second binding is made
Susan and John, Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
[Third cord is draped over the couples' hands]
And so the third binding is made
Susan and John, will you share each other's laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
[Fourth cord is draped over the couples' hands]
And so the fourth binding is made.
(TIE CORDS TOGETHER)
John and Susan, 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.
John and Susan, inasmuch as you have consented together in this ceremony to live in wedlock and have sealed your vows in the presence of this assembly and by the giving of the rings, it gives me great pleasure to pronounce you Husband and Wife.