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Steps Used in a Handfasting Ceremony - with Handfasting Wording

The following are ideas for elements and their sequencing used in performing a handfasting ceremony. Elements can be moved around in a different order, removed, replaced or embellished according to the wishes and creativity of the marrying couple.

Entrance to Music

Music that is meaningful to the couple (live or recorded).

Lighting of Two Candles

symbolic of the couples love (these need to be enclosed if outdoors).


The celebrant (priest or officiant) welcomes everybody.

Opening Prayer/Invocation

The celebrant says an opening prayer or invocation. It may be any of the following:

  • A Gathering Blessing

Calling in all the good energies of those that care about you, who love you or wish you well. Surrounding you with the goodwill of the universe.

  • A Religious Prayer

a traditional calling in of the blessings of God.

  • Calling in the Four Elements

a blessing from the earth, the air, the water and the sun. You can have different items to stand for the four elements. and have the celebrant use these to physically bless while saying the prayer.

  • A General Prayer

a general prayer mentioning God but not alluding to an particular tradition.

  • A Gaia Invocation

a calling in of the bounty blessing of Mother Earth

  • Calling in the Four Directions

The celebrant can enact this by turning to each of the directions and call in a blessing from the North, East, South and West. Each direction can be associated with certain qualities that the couple would like to bring to their union.

Introduction of Bride to Groom's family and friends

a loved one, family or friend, who is close to the bride can say a few words of introduction.

Introduction of Groom to Bride's family and friends

just like before, a loved one, family or friend who is close to the groom can say a few words of introduction.

First Reading

usually read by a guest and chosen by the couple.


Again something that is conducive to the mood of the day.

Second Reading

usually read by guest, something on the theme of love and commitment perhaps, poetry or scripture.

Blessing of Couple

for example, the celebrant uses the four elements: earth, water, air and fire (especially if you are Calling in the Four Directions'). Earth represents your grounded journey together, water represents your deep emotions for each other, air represents your inner thoughts and feelings, fire for your enthusiasms & passion.

Couple Exchange Vows

Written by the couple. They can be spoken in unison or in sequence. Generally the vows are the same for both the bride and groom but they may also choose to have their own vows and keep them private as a surprise for the wedding day.

Couple Exchange Rings

Handfasting Ceremony

Traditionally a colourful woven crios is used, one woven especially for the occasion. No words need be spoken as the actual tying is done, but the celebrant can introduce it before performing the handfasting, to let the guests know the origin and symbolism of the custom.

Kiss, Embrace, Applause

Depending on the type of knot used the couple may choose to leave the hands bound together and walk through family and friends like this, or slip the hands out of the handfasting cord after this stage.

Lighting of One Centre Candle

Representing the couple, two flames, are now one in love. This can be done to music.

Reading of a Union/Marriage blessing

usually read by guest or family member


remembering those who have passed or those that are absent with love and gratitude.

Honouring of Parents

the celebrant or couple can thank the parents present and acknowledge that while it is an important day for their daughter/son, it is also a milestone day for them, acknowledging their contribution to the couples lives (people often applause then).

Blessing of all Present

A simple blessing, giving thanks for the day.


Something celebratory and joyful is in order here.

Couple Exit

The couple walk through all their family and friends present, taking the first steps in union. Some couples like to walk through their guest with their hands still bound in the crios, symbolic of their walking the path together and it can be a great photo opportunity. In this case the binding of just two hands rather than four is more appropriate - see the post on types of handfasting knots.



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