Handfasting cords can form part of any ceremony where two people want to make a declaration
of their love and commitment to each other. Historically they’ve been used as part
of a non-church based wedding, but they are increasingly becoming included in all
kinds of other scenarios. They are popular for engagements, where the couple perhaps
are not planning on having a wedding in the near future but would still like to have
a ceremony and celebration. Likewise ceremonies involving same sex couples, often
less traditional in many aspects, are enjoying the freedom and creative expression
that handfasting cords allow.
In addition, many couples who have been married for many years choose to have a renewal
of their vows at a milestone anniversary point, and the ceremony often involves handfasting
cords as an additional tangible element from their union - they already have the
The ceremony itself can be as formal or informal as you wish, as public or as personal
as you both choose. The Humanist Society of Scotland enables couples to be married
in almost any location in the country, and their celebrants performing the ceremony
are well used to handfasting cords being incorporated into weddings. These may be
in a typical stately home setting with hundreds of guests or in a smaller, more intimate
with only a handful of people attending. Either way, the handfasting cords are incorporated
seamlessly into the day, and their experience often shows in the number of clever
knots they can tie the cords in!
If you are having a more traditional church wedding, many couples choose to have
the handfasting cords ceremony as a separate element to the day, often during the
Reception. In many cases, a smaller number of guests are typically invited to the
wedding ceremony compared to the Reception, and holding a handfasting ceremony later
in the day allows a larger number of friends and relatives to become part of the
celebration and commitment.
As a further variation, many couples choose to marry overseas with a very small group
able to accompany them. On their return home, a celebration is often held, and again
handfasting cords can form part of this, allowing friends and relatives who weren't
able to accompany you to another country, to still feel part of the commitment ceremony.