Including a traditional Celtic hand fasting ritual can be a meaningful and visually stunning element in your New Jersey wedding ceremony. I love it because it compliments the somewhat “formal” nature of your wedding vows with a heartfelt promise that is more common law in feeling. The contrast is beautiful and moving. It is also a wonderful way to include children, parents, or other special people that may not be included in the traditional bridal party.
The script below is one that I have written. It is flexible; it can be expanded or edited to include as many participants as you wish. The cord colors can be chosen to reflect the qualities of your relationship; peace and tranquility, passion and love, protection and care, renewal and growth. For my couples, I make a set of cords that include shells, beads,and keepsakes if they’d like. It is a simple ritual that speaks eloquently of the aspects and emotions that make a marriage strong.
Jasmine and John have chosen a traditional hand fasting ceremony. In Europe, until the mid 1700’s, few unions were sanctified in a church or synagogue. Rather, they were celebrated by a simple hand fasting ceremony in which the two partners joined hands over the village anvil, in the fields or in the groves of trees. Today, we build upon this tradition, and while we don’t have the village anvil, we do have this beautiful lake and our very own grove of trees.
Jasmine and John, please hold hands, right hand to right hand, left hand to left hand.
When you found each other, an ancient circle was closed. You have become Anam Cara for each other. Anam Cara translated from Irish means soul friend. Your Anam Cara is the person who supports and challenges you, who brings you to your full potential, who brings you joy.
Notice as you hold hands that your arms form a figure 8. Let this be a symbol of the eternal promise that is brought into the light by the presence of your Anam Cara.
Notice too, that the unity of the figure 8 holds within it two distinct circles. Let this remind us that even as you are bound together, you are two separate and unique individuals.
It is one of the mysteries of love, that in the eternal circle of belonging you can find freedom.
May your love be the wellspring that nourishes you, refreshes you and reveals to you your inner most nature. The green cord of renewal is draped.
May the warmth, generosity and creativity of your love touch everyone in your life. The red cord, the cord of possibility, the red cord of inevitable togetherness and boundless passion, is draped.
May you learn from each other and grow in ways you’ve never dreamed. The yellow cord, the cord of wisdom and creativity, is draped.
May you surround yourself with history and future, and always be open to the surprises of tomorrow, even as you remember yesterday with fondness. The purple cord, the cord of magic and mystery is draped.
May you always be ready for adventure, and may returning home be the best part of your journey. The white cord of peace and purity is draped.
I have the pleasure of draping the final cord tonight. It is the gold cord of intimate richness. May you value your relationship and realize that it is a priceless gift to be nurtured and treasured. The gold cord is draped.
This is the final cord of Handfasting. It will connect Jasmine and John together with bonds of love. For such bonds to be strong, they need support – not only from the couple themselves, but from you; their loving and supportive community of family and friends. As I bind their hands together with the four cords, please let your thoughts focus on the loving strength you bring to their union. The knots of this binding are not formed by these cords but instead by your vows. May these promises shape your every day together, as long as you shall live.
Celebrant ties the cords. “And the binding has been made”.
With the entwining of this knot I tie all the desires, dreams, love, and happiness w to your lives for as long as love shall last. As this knot is tied, so are your lives now bound. Woven into this cord, into its very fibers, are all the hopes of your friends and family, and of yourselves, for your new life together.