Handfasting rituals are popular additions to traditional wedding ceremonies due to their strong cultural and historical backgrounds. As a wedding tradition, this custom can be traced back to Celtic wedding ceremonies of the 1500’s.
My best friend got married recently, and as both bride and groom have Scottish connections, a Scottish theme flowed throughout the ceremony, with the handfasting ritual being incorporated into it. It was very moving and beautiful, and something I’ve never seen done before at a wedding. Being Scottish by birth, it both intrigued and fascinated me.
The ceremony was held outside in the beautiful gardens of our local Golf Club, and the sun shone brightly for the occasion. There is a waterfall at the back of that gazebo and we could hear the water falling gently during the ceremony. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
It was a very simple ceremony – the bride and groom faced each other and the guests formed a semi-circle round them. The legalities of the ceremony were carried out first, as were the exchanging of the rings and their vows to each other.
Then the bride and groom joined right wrist to right wrist and the embroidered tartan was placed over their wrists. Then six silk ribbons, each two feet long and all different colours, (each with it’s own special meaning), were placed one by one over the tartan by each bridesmaid. A blessing was offered by the celebrant before each one was placed. Here are the meanings of the colours ~
Red: passion, strength, fertility
Yellow: charm, confidence, joy, balance
Orange: encouragement, attraction, kindness, plenty
Green: finances, fertility, charity, prosperity, health
Blue: tranquility, patience, devotion, sincerity
White: purity, concentration, meditation, peace
When all the ribbons were placed over the tartan, the celebrant then tied them in a knot – probably where the expression ‘tying the knot’ came from! They then withdrew their hands and the tartan was placed on a table, still tied with the ribbons, a symbol of the couple being bound to each other in love.
It was nice to see such an old and unusual tradition weaved into a modern-day marriage, and it certainly kept the guests interested!
It was one of the most moving and feel-good wedding ceremonies I have ever been to.