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Hand fasting

Posted by Claire Oxenham on March 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM

This week I want to start to take a look at symbolism in ceremonies.

When writing a wedding ceremony I ask my couples if they would like a symbolic ceremony, a ceremony with in a ceremony if you will.

A lot of people are unsure as to what this is so I’m going to focus on the hand fasting ceremony, although there are a few to choose from, they can also be viewed on my website page “symbolism in ceremonies"

Originally the word “hand fast” came into English from Norse languages, and meant the act of sealing any bargain by taking hands.

The hand fasting ceremony stems from pre medieval and was a ceremony of betrothal or wedding.

In England it involves the nuptials hands being tied with a ribbon or cloth, as a way of formalizing their bond of matrimony and in England was legally binding as soon as they took their vows.

In Scotland, the hand fasting was a trial period of marriage, the man would take this potential wife in a hand fasting ceremony and live together as a married couple for a year, if she performed well as a wife for that year her would then legally marry her, if not she got packed off back to her parents.

As you can imagine this caused no end of problems, with couples using the hand fasting a betrothal ceremony but never actually proceeding to marry, this would create no end of problems as there would now be children born out of wedlock, a big no no!!

Then the marriage laws were introduced and all thus started the marriage laws that we all abide by when marrying.

Members of the clergy use the hand fasting still as a way of showing the world that couples are joined by God and no man will separate.

But the hand fasting ceremony is a very beautiful visual statement for the couple in their ceremony, many items can be used to hand fast the couple together.

Some use a cloth to the colour scheme of the wedding, others have used something more sentimental, the tie of a deceased father for instance this is a way of incorporating the father into the ceremony without being there. A family heir loom possibly, ribbons from the bride that was used when she was a baby for example.

So there are a number of things you can use to “hand fast” yourself to your partner.

I also team this with a few words whilst it’s happening, to make the perfect ceremony with in the ceremony, and plus the pictures look great!!

Let me know if you would like one in your wedding ceremony.

see you soon xx



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