Handfastings are Wiccan or Pagan wedding ceremonies, which are very different from traditional weddings as we know them. The handfasting ceremony has been used to wed Wiccans and Pagans for hundreds of years and is based on ancient traditions of `The Old Ways’ as some describe it. This ceremony is a serious undertaking for the two people involved and treated with the same reverence as any ceremony would be, Wiccan or not.
The difference between traditional church weddings and the magical ceremony of a handfasting is that the handfasting is not legally binding if you do not wish for it to be. When the two people involved join together in a handfasting ritual they agree to stay together for a year and a day after which time they can stay together and renew their vows or dissolve their union. Others will decide upon a nine year union, again at that time making the decision to stay together and renew or go their separate ways. In either case it is the couple’s complete decision and choice with no interference from others.
Handfastings do not take on the `till death do us part’ vow that traditional weddings do; Wiccans and Pagans realise that people change, make mistakes and rush into things sometimes to quickly or for all the wrong reasons. So allowances are made to ensure that the couple are not enslaved to one another and kept in a situation that may be miserable or incompatible. This is not to say that it is taken lightly either, the couple involved take their vows to be together seriously and know that relationships take work and give and take, but at the end of the day if it isn’t working then they can elect not to renew their union.
The handfasting ceremony is usually held outdoors in a forest or beautiful garden setting where everyone can come dressed in their best Wiccan or Pagan outfits to celebrate the union of their friends. The ceremony itself is conducted by a High Priestess or a celebrant and the ritual of loosely binding the hands of the couple together with a silk or satin ribbon or cotton braided chord is performed whilst the vows are being read. Then after the vows the couple jump over the besom (broomstick) to mark the ceremony and for fertility.
Afterwards, everyone joins in the celebrations and wishing the couple a wonderful union and much love and happiness. Handfastings are celebrations which can go on way into the night with eating, drinking and lots of dancing and merriment!
Handfasting ceremonies are every bit as beautiful, wonderful and exciting as a traditional marriage without the lifetime binding contract. If you are ever invited to a handfasting you will see what a very special day it is.