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.

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.

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.

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.