Every year, usually on May 1, we hold a mass handfasting at the festival. Since the 2023 festival does not fall on May 1, we will have the mass handfasting on April 30. We have an ordained minister perform the ceremony therefore participants have the option to become legally wed or not. If you choose to become legally wed you must apply for a North Carolina Marriage License and bring it with you.
This event is free of charge for anyone who wants to participate. Just complete the registration form and show up to check in by 3:30 PM on Sunday, April 30, 2023.
What is a Handfasting?
The following article was shared by The Kent Wedding Center in the UK in September 2021. It is an excellent article explaining what handfasting is, why it’s done, and what it symbolizes.
What is a handfasting ceremony and how would it work at your wedding? Handfasting has become really popular in recent years as couples look for ways to add symbolism and personalization to their ceremony. In order to help you create your dream, unique vows exchange, we’ve put together all the info you need to know about handfasting, and what you’ll need to have prepared for a hand-fasting ceremony.
What is a Handfasting ceremony?
Handfasting is a symbolic unity ritual in which a couple stands face to face as their hands are tied together, hence, tying the knot! As their hands are bound, words are recited that express their commitment to each other. Handfasting rituals are associated with Pagan ceremonies but are now often seen in secular, spiritual, and even some Christian ceremonies.
What Does Handfasting Symbolise?
The handfasting ceremony dates back over 2000 years. It is an ancient Celtic tradition and was originally used to symbolize a betrothal, during which a druid priest would declare that the couple would be bound together. This engagement would last a year, as a sort of ‘trial marriage’, after which they’d decide to opt-in, or opt-out! In later times, it has been used as part of a marriage ceremony, in lieu of the presence of a priest. Today, Celtic handfasting rituals are particularly common among couples from overseas getting married in Ireland and Scotland. But more and more Irish and British couples are featuring them in their own ceremonies too, to symbolize the binding together of their separate lives and the commitment they’re making to each other.
What is a Handfasting Cord?
A handfasting cord is a ribbon or long piece of fabric used to bind your hands. Some couples use one or two cords, others use several. You can use simple lengths of lace or ribbon, but some couples bring along fabric that’s significant to them. Be it from a family heirloom, made or gifted by family members, or cord in colors or patterns that have a special significance. You can also buy handfasting ribbons online. A single handfasting cord should be about two or three feet long, so it can loop around your wrists and hands.
How Do You Do a HandFasting Ceremony?
You can choose to bind with one hand each, or two. For one hand, stand side-by-side and hold out your arms together. If you choose two, stand face-to-face and clasp each other by the hands (or wrists for a more secure grasp!) — many couples will cross their arms, with one’s left hand linking the other’s right, which looks like an infinity knot from above. There are no hard or fast rules, try it out beforehand and see what’s comfortable for you! You can ask either your celebrant or chosen members of your family or friends to do the fasting — some couples ask lots of different guests to come and place a ribbon over their hands.
There are several ways to tie the ribbon, from a simple knot to a more elaborate wrapping of the wrists that results in an impressive infinity knot. However, if you choose to tie it, it shouldn’t be so tight that you can’t pull yourselves loose afterward. As the knots are tied, some couples plan to recite their vows of commitment to one another. After the ceremony, you’ll have your cord as a wonderful keepsake of your vows.
What Should You Say During a Handfasting Ceremony?
It’s a good idea to introduce the handfasting ritual to your guests, explain the meaning behind it, and why you’ve chosen it for your wedding. This can be done either by your celebrant or in your ceremony notes. Depending on your celebrant, they may have a tried and tested handfasting ritual structure that they’ll be able to share. If you’re creating your own ceremony, play around and see what works for you. You can say a few lines to each other before the ritual begins, or if you have several cords, exchange a different vow for each one. You could also leave your vows altogether until later in the ceremony. There are a lot of handfasting vows online, but to be honest, most of them are quite cheesy! You’ll probably be better off writing something yourself that will feel more authentic and natural when you recite it on the day.
Beltane-May Day Festival Mass Handfasting Registration
If you decide you want to participate in our mass handfasting ceremony, whether to be legally wed or not, complete the registration form below. Remember, this is free and you can invite family and friends to witness the ceremony.
NOTE: Absolutely NO HELIUM-BALLOONS allowed on the property.