What is Handfasting?

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic ritual in which the hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives. While it is most often included in Wiccan or Pagan ceremonies, it has become more mainstream and pops up in both religious and secular vows and readings.

During the ceremony, the officiant explains the ritual and what it means to the couple. The officiant then invites the couple to join hands, which symbolizes their free will to enter into the marriage. From here, the officiant reads a series of vows as cords are wrapped around the couple’s hands.

Couples could choose to use a separate cord for each vow, or twist or braid together a few cords and wrap them as one around your hands. After your hands are bound, you proceed to exchange additional vows or use your handfasting as the vows you’ll exchange. Then the officiant will move directly to the ring exchange if there will be one. Finally, the officiant will pronounce the couple wed signaling the end of the ceremony.

What Do the Colors in the Handfasting Cords Represent? 

While these are the most common definitions associated with handfasting ceremonies, some couples will give different meanings based on their personal relationship. Say, for example, the color ‘purple’ was the bride’s mother’s favorite hue, she may select that one as a nod to her own family member.

  • Red: passion, strength, lust, fertility
  • Orange: encouragement, attraction, kindness, plenty
  • Yellow: charm, confidence, joy, balance
  • Green: finances, fertility, charity, prosperity, health
  • Blue: tranquility, patience, devotion, sincerity
  • Purple: Power, piety, sanctity, sentimentality
  • Black: strength, wisdom, vision, success
  • White: purity, concentration, meditation, peace
  • Gray: neutrality, canceling, balance
  • Pink: unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness
  • Brown: earth, grounding, talent, telepathy, home
  • Silver: treasure, values, creativity, inspiration
  • Gold: energy, wealth, intelligence, longevity

How many cords are in a Handfasting ceremony?

How many should you pick? As many as you choose to represent the bond you will share. There is no set rule for how many cords you can use in a Handfasting ceremony; however, three is the most popular amount, as it allows the couple to braid the cords together.

If you choose to use just one cord, it is recommended that you choose a fabric that is a minimum of two feet long so that it can loop around your hands and wrists.