If this is the first time that you have heard about handfasting, then you may have no idea what it is about and may seem heavily confused with the term handfasting, being used in the same sentence as the word wedding. But if we were to add the word pagan handfasting, then that would throw up all kinds of weird thoughts.
A handfasting wedding simply means to unite a couple in their love and to allow this couple to declare their love and their bond that they share between each other. A handfasting can be described as the intimate joining of two souls as they take the road of life together. Through the traditions of handfasting, the couple will acknowledge their love and passion for each other, handfasting is a holy bond made from truth, honor and love. The term handfasting has also got the slang term "tie the knot." Where as other religions will see this as simply being married, at a handfasting marriage this term is taken to the next extreme, the priest or priestess at the wedding will lightly bind the hands of the couple together, whilst speaking to them and the witness who are also present at the wedding.
At a handfasting wedding the couples do not make wedding vows such as promises, but they acknowledge that their paths are bound together and they are the same from this point forward. The couple will realize that this is the truth and will accept it with huge elation. Whereas at a Christian wedding the bride would usually wear all white and the groom would wear a suit, the handfasting wedding ceremonies have no dress code with the couples usually dressed in their best party clothes. The idea of a bride wearing white is just becoming a new idea in the world of a handfasting ceremony.
Once the couple have "tied the knot" and their words of love and commitment are made then the couple will usually jump over a sword and broom while still holding hands. The sword is meant to symbolize the idea that you are cutting away the ties that are part of your old life, before the couples were together. The broom represents the remnants of the past life being swept away.
The most popular day for a Wiccan and Pagan handfasting is Beltane in May. Beltane is the day that celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life, which couples see as the perfect day for them to begin their new life flowering and blossoming along the road of life together.
Some of the ancient traditions used at a handfasting wedding are still being used for today's more modern handfasting weddings. The sharing of a cake and some wine is still apparent in today's handfasting wedding ceremonies. While the exchanging of rings wasn't used as much in ancient handfastings, it is finding its way back into the modern handfastings.
A handfasting ceremony is not recognized as legally binding. Different countries and different states will have different laws on the idea of a handfasting wedding. But there is the option that nearly all countries and states have added that allow for a legally sanctioned person to perform the ceremony and they will then sign the marriage license, whether it is a handfasting ceremony or a wedding ceremony that takes place in a church or chapel.