One of the most popular – especially among those with Celtic roots – is the hand fasting ceremony. Hand fasting is a historical term for “betrothal” or “wedding”. In the Early Modern history of Scotland (16th and 17th centuries), especially in the Hebrides, the term could also refer to a temporary marriage.
The tradition began a long, long time ago (before 7000 b.c). in ancient Ireland. Back then, it signified engagement rather than marriage, and was used to publicly show that a couple were betrothed to one another. A priest would proclaim a couple as engaged after a braided cord or ribbon was wrapped around their hands (the intention was to ward off any other suitors).
Over the years the tradition spread like wildfire, first reaching to Britain and Europe, then adopted by Christianity. Its meaning also underwent a bit of a metamorphosis. Irish Christian people who lived far away from churches and monasteries began to use hand fasting ceremonies to signify their marriage (not their engagement). All that was needed was declared consent and a witness to bind their hands.
There are many forms of hand fasting ceremonies today. During the ceremony, the officiant begins by explaining the ritual and what it means to the couple. This statement often includes the notion of the couple binding their lives together and the union of their hopes and desires. The officiant then invites the couple to join hands, which symbolizes their free will to enter into the marriage. Many opt to cross hands, taking your fiance’s right hand in your right hand and his left hand in your left hand. You could also opt to stand next to one another, joining one of your right hands with the other’s left, and have your hands bound that way, around your wrists.
The length of time you stay bound is up to you. Just make sure that it is done after the ring ceremony so it does not impede the other parts of the ceremony. There are several versions of the ceremony, just find the one that speaks to you.
Note: Each special wedding has a fee of $100 for the Officiant’s costume and specific ceremony and is paid at the time of booking.