A Handfasting Ritual, for Christian use

This ritual is not part of the Catholic marriage rite, but your solemniser might agree to a modified version of it as an optional extra. You could propose a simple form of Handfasting with a suitable prayer to be said while binding the couple's hands are bound.


Introducing the ritual

may be spoken by a friend of the couple

When N. and N. kindly asked me to introduce their Handfasting, I went online to research this ritual, and it's amazing the amount of things written about it. While it's hard to find solid facts about its origins, many regard Handfasting as an old Celtic tradition with roots in Scotland. This ritual gained worldwide notice, when at the (2011) royal wedding in London of Kate Middleton and Prince William Windsor, the Archbishop of Canterbury placed a gilded stole over their joined hands in a handfasting way, to seal their wedding vows.

Two distinctly different kinds of handfasting are known. The more trivial kind is known as the year-and-a-day bond, a public but temporary engagement; and the other conveys partnership till death do us part. Our good friends are committing to the permanent form. Their tying the knot is a colourful sign of lifelong bonding. It is a full commitment to their marriage, rather like the exchanging of rings.

N. and N. will take each other's hands, and the ceremonial cord or stole will be placed on their joined hands as a pledge to spend the rest of their days united. Their intertwining of hands declares their partnership, a bond of friendship and a commitment to support each other all along their life's journey. Without wanting to trespass too much into the Solemniser's territory, I'd like to make these few wishes on behalf of us all:

  • May your hands be kind and gentle as you nurture and support each other.

  • May they always be instruments of love and trust for one another.

  • May you hold together even in times of stress or illness, til the blessing of harmony is restored.

And now I gladly hand over to our Solemniser, to perform the Handfasting ceremony itself.



[Names], please hold your hands together, to show the gift you hope to be for each other. With God's help, with these hands you will serve and strengthen each other as you journey through life together. With these hands you will tend to each other when either of you is sick and hold each other when you are sad or grieving. With these hands you will show how you love and cherish each other all your lives. By the grace of God, and working generously together, your union can be all that you wish and pray for today.


binding their hands with the cords, he says:

Dear God and Father of us all, bless the hands of these your servants, now bound before You this day.

May they always be instruments of love and trust for one another.

Give them strength to hold together even in times of storm or stress until harmony is restored.

Keep them kind and gentle as they nurture each other in their married union.

May they nourish a relationship built on your grace, devoted to helping each other as love requires.

May N. and N. always see each other as supporting, protecting, helping and cherishing.

This blessing we ask through your Son, Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A suitable song or musical piece follows, before the cords are untied, and the couple embrace.


Royal Handfasting


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