Hand-Fasting Ceremonies

Hand-fasting ceremonies are popular for weddings and vow reaffirmations. This tradition is rooted in the ancient Celtic tradition but has become a symbolic part of many modern marriage ceremonies. The beauty of hand-fasting is that couples can customize the tying of the chord to celebrate the virtues that are most important to their marriage.

The origin story of hand-fasting varies, depending on the source. Some say it was used to bind the couple together for an agreed-up specific time (e.g. a year and a day). After that time passed, the couple could renew their agreement, break up, or get married. Other sources indicate that this is simply untrue. It was the official marriage ceremony for Celtic couples during Medieval times.

Although it began as a Pagan custom, hand-fasting has become popular in modern secular and religious weddings, as well.  Symbolic of a couple’s union in marriage–tying the knot–this tradition can be carried out in a variety of ways.

The officiant lays the chord, wraps it, and binds the couple’s hands together prior to the declaration of marriage. However, some couples choose to include their parents, their children, or other wedding guests. One by one, each participant drapes a chord or ribbon across the couple’s hands. After all of the colors are in place, the officiant (or guest) performs the symbolic union of the couple.

A hand-fasting ceremony is a symbolic and spiritual practice of “tying the knot.”

The colors of the chords have meaning. There’s no one-size-fits all protocol for choosing your colors. In other words, you can choose a ribbon of one color or a several ribbons in your ceremony. If you choose chords, you can choose three to six colors weaved into your binding chord.

Because the marriage celebrant will wrap the chord around the couple’s hands and bind them together, hand-fasting chords are usually six-feet long. The chords may be simple or ornate, depending on the couple’s preference.

The Meaning of Hand-Fasting Chord Colors

When choosing colors, you’ll want to define the colors that mean the most to your marriage.  Here are some of the common meanings:

  • Red -will, love, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigor, passion
  • Orange -encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, plenty, kindness
  • Yellow – attraction, charm, confidence, balance, harmony
  • Green – fertility, luck, prosperity, nurturing, beauty, health, love
  • Dark Blue -for a safe journey, longevity & strength
  • Light Blue – tranquility, understanding, patience, health
  • Purple – healing, health, strength, power, progress
  • Black – strength, empowerment, wisdom/vision, success, pure love
  • White – spiritual purity, truth, peace, serenity and devotion
  • Gray – balance, neutrality, used in erasing, canceling, neutralizing, and return to the universe without repercussion
  • Pink – love, unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness
  • Brown – for healing , skills & talent, nurturing, home & hearth, the earth
  • Silver – for creativity, inspiration & vision, and protection
  • Gold – for unity, longevity, prosperity, strength

Where to Buy Hand-Fasting Chords

You can purchase ribbons or chords in your local craft store. If you want customized chords, you can find them on Etsy or Amazon. Some are simple chords; others are adorned with medallions such as a Celtic Knot or Tree of Life symbol.

Some couple’s prefer to make their own chords. There are tutorials online that can show you how to create a chord that symbolizes your affectionate unity.

Does Mid-Ohio Valley Wedding Officiants Perform Hand-Fasting Rituals

Absolutely! Deb will incorporate a simple hand-fasting ceremony into your ceremony or include it as part of her customized wedding ceremonies. If you’d like to learn more, contact Deb to learn how you can create a wedding ceremony that will make your day memorable.



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