Weddings are major life events that celebrate the love between two souls destined to be together for the rest of their lives. These are moments where family and friends witness the union and share not only the experience but bestow their blessing to the couple as well. If you’re in Ireland or are planning on eloping in Ireland, you can include a lovely and historical element to your wedding. Consider infusing the Celtic handfasting ritual into your elopement. This observance is the third most common traditional wedding ceremony after marriage ceremonies and renewal of vows. It adds a sense of heritage, history, and timelessness to your big day.
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The history of Ireland is layered with centuries of oppression that was particularly unfriendly in respect of the Catholic religion. In the 16th century, certain laws prevented priests from conducting wedding ceremonies in Ireland. This persecution caused the Irish people to practice their religion underground, including wedding celebrations. Having said that, historically, the handfasting ceremony dates back over 2,000 years.
Handfasting ceremonies involved tying the hands of the betrothed together well in advance of the actual wedding. It worked nearly the same as an engagement when both individuals agree to commit to one another. In times past, this ceremonial act acted as a kind of temporary marriage. Today, the Celtic handfasting ritual takes place on the actual wedding day in legal and symbolic ceremonies.
Handfasting ceremonies are among the more popular Irish traditions these days, especially among Irish couples or those coming to Ireland to elope. They tend to choose to handfast to pay homage to the past. On the other hand, overseas couples usually include handfasting to add a sense of adventure to their event.
A traditional wedding in Ireland usually involves handfasting, where a cord or ribbon is used to bind the couple’s hands to symbolize the binding together of their separate lives, as well as the commitment they are making as a couple.
Traditionally, it was a rope or dyed cloth and even embroidered if the couple was well-off. Today, the cord can be anything from silky ribbons, fabric taken from heirloom dresses, or anything that can be tied around two hands. The idea is to imitate the Celtic type pattern, which stands for unity and timelessness.
It’s quite easy to blend Celtic handfasting ritual to your elopement. Simply choose plain silk ribbons from a fabric store. Or, if you want to be a little bit more sentimental – cut out a piece of garment from a family heirloom. One thing to make sure is to be long enough to tie both your hands and don’t forget it should match your colour palette. You can even add some jewellery like golden shamrocks or any traditional Irish symbols of luck to level it up!
More information about how to choose your wedding theme is here.
Here are some examples of the colour meaning which I think are just beautiful:
WHITE represents the purity of their love for each other.
GOLD is for abundance in everything the couple wish for.
FOREST GREEN represents their love of nature and the outdoors.
DEEP BLUE represents how the couple’s love for eachother is deeper than any ocean.
DEEP RED represents how their love for each other will continue to grow stronger each day for all eternity.
The Celtic handfasting ritual can be an effortless yet meaningful addition to your special day. If you want to include it in one of your ideas for an elopement, reach out here. I’d love to talk to you and make your celebration of love more meaningful.
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