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Tying the Knot Wedding Ceremonies


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The phrase 'tying the knot' comes from the ancient ‘handfasting’ wedding ritual in which a couple’s clasped hands are tied together by a cord or ribbon. The term comes from the word ‘handfast’, used in Middle English for the making of a contract of marriage, and derived from the Old Norse 'hand-festa', which meant “to strike a bargain by joining hands”.

Tying together a couple’s hands was a part of the marriage ceremony in the time of the Roman Empire.  The ritual remained popular until the reformation of Roman Catholic marriage laws to require the presence of a priest.  This change did not extend to the regions affected by the Protestant Reformation, and in Scotland, for instance, handfasting remained popular until the 1940s.

Today, some couples choose a handfasting ceremony in place of, or incorporated into, their public wedding. The hand tying may be done by the officiant of the ceremony, by the wedding guests, or by the couple themselves. As summer is the traditional time for handfastings, they are often held outdoors.  While the ceremony is taking place, the bride and groom can say some simple words such as:

Groom: As these two strands intertwine
Bride: So we join, your life and mine.



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