Handfasting ceremonies for loving couples, an alternative to traditional weddings, conducted in the ancient and mystical Wiltshire countryside between Stonehenge and Avebury.
There are many rituals and traditions involved in the ancient handfasting ceremony, each symbolising a different part of the upcoming marriage. Often referred to as tying the knot in other faiths such as Christianity, the binding of a couples hands is the central part of any had fasting wedding. The joining of a couples hands, often just before saying their marriage vows; symbolises the love and commitment that a bride and groom are about to make to each other. Handfasting ceremonies are often very intimate days with close families and friends present, and can take a more traditional or modern approach; however the ceremony will be influenced by the couples faith and their identity as Pagan, Druid or Wiccan.
A handfasting ceremony will often take place in a circle - stone or otherwise, along with an alter. Outdoor locations are often preferred and having the ceremony at an ancient site such as Avebury or Stonehenge, which have a strong connection with the Celtic tradition and mystery, can give the ceremony added meaning. A connection to nature will also often be a major theme and plants and flowers are often present in the marriage circle.
Whilst a vicar may oversee a marriage in a Church setting, in a Pagan handfasting a druid or other spiritual elder will preside over the binding, and lead the couple in saying their vows. There are many variations on traditional marriage vows said during a handfasting, however a similar pattern is usually followed on the wedding day. Firstly the symbolism and tradition behind the handfasting will be explained and family, friends and witnesses will be welcomed to the ceremony. The intention of the day will be outlined, often with a prayer to the divine. Following this, the couples exchange vows, rings and other gifts. The sword ritual will then often take place, followed by the handfasting itself. If the couple has decided on a more traditional handfasting ceremony, they will often both jump over a broom laid on the ground afterwards.
Once the handfasting ceremony has been completed and the marriage between the couple recognised there is often celebration and dancing, much the same as weddings in other religions and faiths. During this time, traditional cakes, ale will be shared amongst guests and friends in a celebration often lasting late into the night! The vigorous celebrations following a hand fasting serve as powerful reminder that love should be celebrated and is a powerful force that should to be cherished as the newly weds confirm their love and commitment for all to see.