Handfasting Ceremonies – Irish Wedding Traditions

A lot of couples who choose Ireland for their wedding or vow renewal destination, like to incorporate some of the Irish culture into their ceremony.  In Marry Me Ireland, we’ve seen a lot of different ways of doing this but the most popular, and for good reason, is the handfasting ceremony.

In ancient Celtic times, when a couple decided they wanted to marry in Ireland they came together for a handfasting ceremony.  They held hands and a ribbon was tied around their clasped hands. A druid priest claimed that the couple were now engaged for a period of one year and one day. They lived together and it was almost a trial wedding. If at the end of the time they decided they were unfit for each other the handfasting was absolved and they were left free to marry another man or woman. It is where the phrase tying the knot comes from.

In later times as more traditional weddings began to occur, a lot of couples began to incorporate the handfasting into their marraige ceremony. All they needed was a witness to tie the ribbon knot once the couple consented to be considered valid.

Nowadays, a lot of couples still choose to include a handfasting ceremony in their wedding. They either use it as a nod to their Celtic ancestors or to place a blessing over their marriage. It can occur alone or alongside other wedding traditions such as the exchanging of rings.  The couple can choose to have one single ribbon or multiple coloured ribbons tied around their hands, each colour bestowing a different blessing upon the marriage. If desired family members and friends can perform this part of the wedding, it’s a great way to get people involved. (Bonus – it makes for great photographs!)

Here at Marry Me Ireland we have a wide variety of exceptional celebrants who can deliver the wedding ceremony of your dreams – traditional, unique or otherwise. So get in touch today and we can start planning your special day!