Tying the knot in a humanist wedding ceremony

Tying the knot in a humanist wedding ceremony

As part of our series on symbolic acts chosen by couples who’ve had humanist weddings, we’re looking at the act of ‘tying the knot’.

To many people, the expression ‘tying the knot’ means to get married, but did you know that the expression originates from a Celtic, pre-Christian tradition that literally saw a couple bound together with cords to symbolise the internal bonds they are forging? This is the act of ‘tying the knot’, which is often used in humanist wedding ceremonies as a symbol of lasting unity.

If you’re at that exciting moment of wedding planning then why not look at a humanist ceremony? We have a network of trained celebrants who can help to create and deliver a beautiful and meaningful ceremony for you. Including tying the knot! Have a look at our ‘What is a humanist wedding?’ blog or use our ‘Find a Celebrant’ map to get started.

Tying the knot in your wedding ceremony

There are many variations on how to ‘tie the knot’ and each celebrant will have their preferred method to teach their couples. It’s different from a handfasting, but similarly it is an ancient wedding tradition that can help to make your ceremony feel more meaningful, personal, and full of occasion.

If you think it looks complicated, don’t worry – you’ll get to practise in advance of your wedding!

Some people choose coloured ribbons and others choose cord – whatever you use, it will make a lovely keepsake. Some people frame theirs after the ceremony, others hang them in a special place or put them in a keepsake box.

You can pick exactly the right time in the ceremony for this special moment. If you’re not sure, that’s fine, your humanist celebrant can help with this.

Tying the knot at a humanist wedding
Eamonn & Caroline by Creative Flux 
Lisa and Kayleigh by Sawyer and Sawyer Photography
Handfasting at a humanist wedding ceremony
Lisa and Kayleigh by Sawyer and Sawyer Photography

Humanist wedding ceremonies are flexible in terms of what they can include –  and if you’d like to include rituals from other traditions, humanist celebrants can assist with planning and rehearsals. They can also help you develop or invent rituals that tell your personal love story.

Other Symbolic Acts

Tying the knot is just one of the ritual moments you can incorporate into your big day. Find out more about other symbolic acts in our blog posts:

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 humanism in this short video.

A humanist wedding is ideal for couples who want a non-religious wedding that is unique, personalised,  and meaningful.

Featured celebrants: Emma Bailie and Rachael Meyer.


'My humanist ceremony was the most special day of my life. All my family were blown away. Both my parents said that they'd never been to a wedding that was more personal or heartfelt.'
Madeleine, 34

Read our wedding blog for feature ideas, inspiration, top tips, and real-life humanist wedding stories.

If you're planning your wedding now, then contact a celebrant as early as possible.