The ceremony itself was a very simple ritual called handfasting. The bride and groom would stand facing each other holding hands and they were bound by a ceremonial rope, cord, or wrap. This is where the term “tying the knot” comes from. This symbolically signified the unity of the couple.
There are many variations on how handfastings were performed, they seem to vary throughout the times and regions. Some involved only one cord or rope, others involved up to six. Scottish weddings used a piece of the family tartan to tie the wedded couple. In some rituals, to finalize the marriage the couple would hold hands and jump over a branch or a broom into their new life together.
THE NINE PARTS OF A CELTIC WEDDING
A true Celtic wedding might incorporate any or all of the nine parts of a ceremony.
These include the following:
- Casting and consecration of the circle
- Presentation of the Bride and Groom
- Statement of the Bard concerning marriage
- Declarations of the Bride and Groom
- Exchange of rings
- Binding (or ‘fasting’) of hands
- Passing of light
- Thanksgiving and Oath
- Blessing and opening of the circle