Handfasting Ceremony

The expression "tying the knot" refers to the traditional early Celtic and later Scots and Welsh marriage ritual of handfasting. Though clearly pagan in origin, the symbolism of this ritual was so visually expressive and appealing that it even found its way into the liturgy of some factions of Catholicism practiced in Britain after the rise of Christianity. What follows is the script for a particularly elaborate, beautiful and historically accurate "six-chorded" handfasting ceremony. There are many other simpler variations of the ceremony, using a single chord (the old spelling of "cord") or a family clan tartan, which are much less lengthy and detailed.

Officiant: Know now that since your lives have crossed, you have formed ties between each other. The promises you make today and the ties that are bound here will cross the years and will greatly strengthen your union. With full awareness, know that you declare your intent to be handfasted before your friends and family. Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?

Bride & Groom: Yes, we seek to enter.

I bid you look into each others eyes.

[Bride's Name], will you honor him?

I will.

[Groom's Name], will you honor her?

I will.

[To Both] Will you seek never to give cause to break that honor?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. Join your hands. (First chord is draped across the bride and groom's hands.)

[Bride's Name], will you share his dreams?

I will .

[Groom's Name], will you share her dreams?

I will .

[To Both] Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. (Second chord is draped across the couple's hands.)

[Bride's Name], will you share his laughter?

I will .

[Groom's Name], will you share her laughter?

I will .

[To Both] Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. (Drape third chord across the couple's hands.)

[Bride's Name], might you ever burden him?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[Groom's Name], might you ever burden her?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[To Both] Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. (Drape fourth chord across the couple's hands.)

[Bride's Name], might you ever cause him pain?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[Groom's Name], might you ever cause her pain?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[To Both] Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. (Drape fifth chord across the couple's hands.)

[Bride's Name], might you ever cause him anger?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[Groom's Name], might you ever cause her anger?

I might...

Is that your intent?

No.

[To Both] Will you together take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?

Yes.

And so the binding is made. (Drape sixth chord across the couple's hands. Tie chords together while saying:)

The knots of this binding are not formed by these chords, but rather by your vows. For as always, you hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union. (Once chords are tied together they are removed and placed on altar.)


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