Hand fasting

The tradition is as old as the written language and is practiced in many cultures. The term ‘hand fasting’ comes from the old custom of formally uniting a couple by binding their hands together with ribbon or cord. This is where the terms ‘giving one’s hand in marriage’ and ‘tying the knot’ comes from.

hand fasting wedding ceremony - photograph credit www.stuartcraig.com hand fasting photograph credit Stuartcraig Photography

Methods for hand fasting

There are several ways the hand fasting can by carried out and your celebrant will discuss this with you.

One method requires two pieces of material or cord, each about 1 ½ yds (1.3mtrs) in length, such as 2” wide satin ribbon or any material 2”-6” wide as long as it is not too thick, such as a heavy woollen material.

During the pronouncement when the celebrant says the word “husband” the couple lift the tails and pull them with their left hands whilst simultaneously slipping their right hands apart, hence tying the knot.

Wording for hand fasting

There are also lovely passages of prose that accompany the hand fasting, one of which is included below. Again your celebrant will guide you through this.

showing tartan ribbon being tied around couples hands during wedding

“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.

These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”

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