Many people have heard the word “Handfasting”, a lot of people simply do not understand the meaning. The ones who do are usually Pagan, but the outside world has no earthly idea of the meaning. Some people also do not beieve that a Handfasting is a real and correct ceremony of joining two people together.
Handfasting can be either a temporary or a permanent ceremony. It is the choice of the couple first and foremost, but with that being said, some governments do not recognize Handfasting as a bone fide marriage commitment, therefore the couple must have a second traditional ceremony for legality purposes. This is changing, but it is slow in the process.
When a couple is Handfasted, it simply means that the right hand of both the bride and the groom are bound together with either a cord or ribbons during the entire ceremony or perhaps both hands of each. The term Handfast simply means a contract of marriage.
These marriage vows taken may be for “a year and a day,” “a lifetime“, “for all of eternity” or “for as long as love shall last.” As stated above whether the ceremony is legal, or a private spiritual commitment, is up to the couple.The Handfasting ceremonies can be for opposite sex couples, same gender couples or for those who wish to have multiple partners. There are no strict code of boundries like in your traditional weddings. I have even know some christians to have a Handfasting so that they can experience it for themselves, rather than simply dismissing the spirituality of the ceremony.
In Handfastings, the wedding couple is in complete control as to the type of ceremony they have. Many couples, like in traditional weddings, prefer to write their own vows, choose the ribbon colors, decide who will place the ribbons around their hands, what music will be heard, who will perform the ceremont and the list goes on even to include developing a completely new ceremony instead of using any of the actual recorded traditional Handfasting ceremonies. This is what makes it completely their day, not just the brides day.
In Handfastings, the couple may conduct the ceremony themselves or have it performed by an officiant. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the couple will usually jump over a broom, which is layed across the floor or ground, others may have decided to leap over a small fire together, in any case the ceremony is theirs to conduct or have conducted as they wish. A lot of couples will have a Handfasting for their beliefs and later have a traditional ceremony performed by clergy for leagl purposes.
Just as in a traditional wedding, rings are usually exchanged, which have been blessed and consecrated, usually by a High Priest or High Priestess. The clothing worn by both the bride and the groom may be ceremonial, traditional or anything that reflects the couples beliefs. I have known of some that have been celebrated and performed sky clad (in the nude), it all depends upon what the bride and the groom prefer and believe, after all this is their own special day. They are making a commitment to one another not to those around them.