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Tying the knot, bound for life, taking each other’s hand in marriage. When talking about the big day these phrases may have crossed your lips. Common things we often just say only knowing they mean, “to get married”. Well the root of these is a lot closer to home than one might think. The Handfasting ceremony.


A long time ago…


It’s believed by historians that handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition performed across the British Isles before the introduction of Christianity. Centuries later it was used quite commonly in rural Scotland as a method of marriage. Back then it could be months until a clergyman would come by a village so people would be left waiting to marry their beloved. They used handfasting as a sort of interim. Before witnesses they would clasp hands and declare themselves married. Then likely have a rather large party.



Ye Olde Handfasting before they made cameras


In the 1560, marriage in Scotland became purely civil matter and the process was split into regular and irregular marriages. Typically the gentry and landowners would have a regular marriage, conducted religiously and was very similar to a modern day marriage ceremony. Conversely, handfasting was sorted into the irregular category and was mainly done by the lower orders of the time.


The tradition lost some traction in the years prior due to some thinking it had roots in witchcraft, which we now know is a load of rubbish and this ancient Scottish ritual was falling to the wayside. As well as misinterpretation of its validity with some thinking it was just a “placeholder” until real marriage could take place.


Tying The Knot


In modern times the tradition has come back in force! In many civil marriages the process is the main part of the wedding and the hands are bound while the couple give their vows. In religious ceremonies, couples can handfast alongside the traditional ceremony.


Mr and Mrs Windsor had their handfasting televised.


The Handfasting itself involves the couple joining hands, with their wrists being joined at the pulse points. The ribbon is then tied around the couple’s hands; a lot of the time the couple makes a vow with every loop of the ribbon and sometimes tied loosely so the couple can keep the ribbon as a memento. The ribbon itself is tied by either the officiant, family members or in some cases the best man and maid of honour. If it’s one of those rare nice days then the ceremony will take place in front of the church door.


Why Should You?


A lot of couples choose to use the process, as it’s a much more intimate and personal, finding that the traditional ceremony is much too restrictive and this gives them flexibility to truly make it their own. Many also see this as a way to embrace their roots and history. While some simply some saw it on the telly and thought it would be a great accompaniment to their ceremony.


Lynda and Richie Conn of Aberdeen had a proper handfasting at the beach for their wedding. Looks affa chilly to me!


Here at Kilts Wi Hae, we like to give couples the options to truly make a wedding their own. To be as special as possible and provide our customers with the tools to make the best day of their life simply unforgettable. We can supply you with a made to order ribbon. We can have them ready in 2 weeks and with over 500 tartans available you’re spoilt for choice!


Visit us instore to have a chat or for our entire range of ribbon for the ceremony head to https://www.kiltswihae.co.uk/search?type=product&q=handfasting and look for your surname, they're ordered alphabetically

Or if your tartan isn't there pop us an email at sales@kiltswihae.co.uk


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