Handfasting at a humanist wedding

As part of our series on symbolic acts chosen by couples as part of their humanist wedding ceremonies, today, we’re taking a look at handfasting ceremonies. 

Handfasting dates back over 2,000 years and, unsurprisingly, there are many variations to the binding together of hands as a symbolic act of unity. Using ribbons, lace, or cord, or material that has significance to the couple, the celebrant or chosen wedding guests bind together the hands of the couple either whilst or before they make their vows.

At the end of a handfasting, the celebrant explains that whilst the physical ties will be removed, the strength of the internal ties forged that day will remain.

Handfasting at a humanist wedding

Photo by Grant Lampard

Handfasting at a humanist wedding ceremony

Photo by Simple Tapestry

Handfasting at a humanist ceremony

Photo by David Ashton

Handfasting at a humanist wedding

Photo by David Ashton

Other symbolic gestures

Humanist wedding ceremonies may include multiple rituals: unity candle-lighting, ‘tying the knot’, the cut-out heart race, and many more. Whatever you choose, your humanist celebrant will help you plan and rehearse them prior to the big day. They can also help develop or invent symbolic acts that help you tell your story as a couple.

What is humanism?

Humanists are non-religious people who believe that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. They have trusted to the scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe and have placed human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethical decision-making. Stephen Fry explains it beautifully.
A humanist wedding is ideal for you if you’d like a non-religious wedding that is unique, meaningful, and personal to you.
Not sure if you’re a humanist? Why not take our quiz and find out?

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Your ceremony will focus on your love story. It can include unique vows, readings, poems, and any symbolic acts you choose.

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