Handfasting: why you absolutely don’t want to tie your hands together

This was always my original position and it still makes more sense to me in a handfasting ceremony: Don’t have someone tie your hands together.

Let your hands fasten on one another in a free-willed clasp, right hand to right hand and left to left. This is such a strong visual. Your arms and bodies form an infinity circle that is fluid and adjusts easily. That’s what you want from a wedding. That’s what you want for a marriage.

In this way you aren’t tied together, you’re joined in love and by love. At any point you could let go hands – but you don’t.

The ropes are the wrong image anyway. It seems that originally, as the woman became a member of the family, she was brought “under the plaid” or under the protection of the man’s family. The plaid was clothing and bed covering. All over the world there are ceremonies that celebrate the couple’s joining in the marriage bed by enfolding them in a blanket. (previous cultures were a little lustier than ours and a little clearer about the marriage’s relationship to establishing a lineage!)

Tip: So you decide which way you want to go in your wedding ceremony. But whether you join hands or not, this is a lovely ceremony that will, if you let it, evoke memories of your dreams for marriage, how much you loved each other as you stood, bound in love, promising one another tomorrow, on the day that you married. That image will live with you for years!

Handfasting: To Bind Hands or Not? Absolutely, Yes!

I’ve never liked the image of tying hands together in handfasting ceremonies. I’ve always felt the free-willed offering of a hand clasp was much more representative of what marriage should be.

But I’ve been reading and thinking (Never say the Wedding Priestess can’t change!) and here are the reasons why I think you might bind your hands.

  1. Love really does grow tendrils that envelop and enfold us. Consider using a living vine, roots still in its pot, to wrap your hands.
  2. The ties that bind our hearts together are fragile and easily broken. Consider using gossamer or lace, a very fragile, yet strong when accumulated, substance to wrap your hands.
  3. Each wonderful memory makes another knot in the threads that hold our hearts together. And yet, too often, people seem willing to cut those threads. Bind your hearts with a strand of pearls (why not one for every guest, or one for every reason you consider your partner your heart’s desire?). A strand of pearls is glorious and beautiful and so easily broken. When the pearls fall, they can smash and chip. (Pearls would be especially beautiful as an image for a renewal of vows.)

Tip: It is not only that we are bound to one another in love but also that we must care for the bonds of love which bind our hearts. Love is very strong and very fragile. We must be tender with one another and mindful of how easy it is to let go or break free of love when it is frightening – or not exciting enough – or demanding. Part of the vows, if you use this ceremony, should be to nurture the bonds of love.