Wedding season is upon us, and while many couples incorporate rope into their wedding décor, it can also be used in the wedding ceremony itself as a beautiful symbolization of unity and commitment. An ancient Celtic tradition called the Handfasting Ceremony is a universal way to symbolize love, commitment, and literally, “tying the knot.” Handfasting was a popular tradition in ancient Rome, Ireland, and Scotland, and consists of tying a bride and groom’s hands together to illustrate joining together in marriage and the commitment to stay together. The Romans used vines and rope to bind the bride and groom’s hands together, and this is widely considered to be the origin of the phrase “tying the knot." Handfasting is also thought to be the origin of the handshake, as the notion of shaking hands when making a deal is thought of as a sort of binding vow. In the past several years, the ceremony has regained popularity in modern wedding ceremonies, beginning with the small Handfasting Ceremony that took place during Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding ceremony.
Wedding Handfasting Ceremonies
The Handfasting Ceremony is highly customizable, as various colors of rope and ribbon can be used to symbolize different themes and commitments made to one another. The ancient Celtic tradition uses 13 ribbons, each with a different meaning.
Handfasting Ceremony Rope Colors
Here are some of the common rope colors used and what they symbolize:
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
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 – unity, longevity, prosperity, strength
A variety of binding materials can be used in the ceremony. Common ones include grape vines, ribbons, twisted ropes, braided ropes, monogrammed or embroidered cloths, Scottish Tartans, or a combination of several of these materials. In ceremonies that use ribbon and rope, guests often write well wishes or advice for the couple onto the ribbons that are used in the ceremony. During the ceremony, the bride and groom typically stand across from each other, clasping hands or wrists, and the binding material is looped around their wrists. The Officiant then explains that the rope represents the couple being bound by their love and commitment and that they, like the cord, are two individual ends that are also one.
Handfasting Ceremony Readings
Here is an example of a Handfasting Ceremony reading that may be modified to fit into your own ceremony:
Officiant: “Bride, [Name] and Groom [Name] have chosen to use a Handfasting in their wedding ceremony to emphasize their eternal bond and reinforce the feeling that they never wish to be parted from one another.
Handfasting is an ancient tradition symbolizing the binding together of two people in love. Tying the Knot. This cord will bind the Groom and Bride together with the strong bonds of love, as they begin their union as husband and wife.
With the entwining of this knot, I tie all the desires, dreams, love, prayers and happiness wished here in this place to your lives.”
There are many variations to the Handfasting Ceremony, and it is meant to be customized to best represent the relationship and values of the couple. At Ravenox, we’re happy to offer a large variety of colored ropes, braided and twisted—perfect for customizing your Handfasting Ceremony. Visit our online store to find the colors best for you, and enjoy your special day!