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How To Hold a Handfasting Ceremony (Sample)

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How To Hold a Handfasting Ceremony (Sample)

Celebrate your love with a handfasting instead of a traditional wedding.

Image © Caitlin Hyatt 2008

If you're planning on having a handfasting ceremony rather than a traditional wedding, you may want to work with your Pagan clergyperson on the writing of the vows. This is a sample ceremony that you can make adjustments to based upon your needs and your spiritual tradition. To avoid leaving a bunch of blank spaces, or the ever popular Bride's Name and Groom's Name, we're going to pretend this is a ceremony for a woman named Ivy and a man named Mark, being handfast by a High Priestess (HPs).

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. HPs: Friends, family, loved ones. We are all here today to see two people, Ivy and Mark, join hands and be bound together by their love, now and forever. Before we begin the ceremony, we will turn this place into sacred ground. As I cast the circle, please take a moment to visualize loving, positive energy for Ivy and Mark.

    HPs casts the circle, either out loud or in silence.

    HPs: The circle has been cast, and this is now a sacred space. We will now take a moment to consecrate the rings.

    HPs consecrates the rings with the four elements, or by other method called for by the couple's tradition.

  2. HPs: The circle itself is an infinite thing. It is magical and never-ending, never changing and yet always adaptable, a ring with no beginning and no conclusion. Like the circle, true love itself is infinite. It goes on, knowing no boundaries or restrictions. It flourishes and blooms in the light and in the dark, laying down no ultimatums, making no demands at all. Love, in its infinite form, is something that cannot be forced. It cannot be taken away. It is a gift we give to ourselves, and an honor we give to others from the bottom of our hearts and souls.

  3. When two people come together and give one another this gift, this most sacred gift of all, it is certain the universe is sitting back and smiling upon us, laughing and showering us with every possible blessing.

    Today is a day to celebrate the love of Mark and Ivy. They are two people who are the halves of a whole. Two souls, coming together to form one single being; two hearts, beating in a single rhythm. They are together as one, and so they will now light a candle of unity, to show the universe that they indeed are one light burning brightly in the darkness.

    If the couple is lighting a unity candle, do this now.

  4. HPs: Today, we ask that the infinite light of the divine shine upon this union. In that spirit, I offer a blessing to this ceremony.

    Blessed be this marriage with the gifts from the east -- new beginnings that come each day with the rising sun, communication of the heart, mind, body and soul.

    Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the south -- the light of the heart, the heat of passion, and the warmth of a loving home.

    Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the west -- the rushing excitement of a raging river, the soft and pure cleansing of a rainstorm, and a commitment as deep as the ocean itself.

  5. Blessed be this marriage with the gifts of the north -- a solid foundation on which to build your lives, abundance and growth of your home, and the stability to be found by holding one another at the end of the day.

    Ivy, Mark, these four simple blessings will help you on your journey that begins today. However, they are only tools. They are tools which you must use together to create the light, the strength, the infinite energy now and forever of a love you both so richly deserve.

  6. Now, I bid you look into one another's eyes and hearts. Mark, please place the ring on Ivy's finger. Do you promise to show Ivy your honor and fidelity, to share her laughter and joy, to support and stand by her in times of difficulty, to dream and hope together with her, and to spend each day loving her more than the day before?

    Groom responds, hopefully in the affirmative!

  7. HPs: Ivy, please give Mark the ring. Do you, Ivy, promise to show Mark your honor and fidelity, to share his hopes and dreams, to laugh with him and share endless days of joy, to stand side by side with him in times of trouble, and to spend each day loving him more than the day before?

    Bride responds. If the couple has written vows they wish to speak to one another, now is the time to do this.

    HPs: The vows of love have been spoken. I ask you now to cross your hands over each other, and take one another's hands.

  8. HPS wraps the cord around the bride and grooms wrists, binding them together loosely and tying a knot.

    HPs: Mark, Ivy, this cord ribbons symbolizes so much. It is your life, your love, and the eternal connection that the two of you have found with one another. The ties of this handfasting are not formed by these ribbons, or even by the knots connecting them. They are formed instead by your vows, by your pledge, your souls, and your two hearts, now bound together as one.

    As one last bond, Mark, will you please kiss Ivy?

    Couple kisses, HPs unwraps cord without untying knot.

  9. HPs: Please turn to face your friends and family who love you. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Mark Jones!

    And now, we will dismiss this sacred space. As I close the circle, please send all of your loving energy towards our newly handfast couple, so that they may begin their life together with all of your blessings and warm wishes.

    HPS goes around the circle, dismissing the quarters.

    HPs: The circle has been dismissed. Friends, please take a moment to congratulate Mark and Ivy!

Tips:

  1. If you wish, ask friends and family members to call the quarters, with someone standing at each cardinal point to represent the four directions.

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