A Handfasting

A Summer Festival of Love  

 I was very happy to conduct the wedding of Sarah and Andy this summer in a wonderful woodland venue at Cotesbach in Leicestershire! They wanted their wedding to have festival vibes and it certainly had those! There was a beautifully decorated marquee,  plenty of tents to accommodate the guests over the weekend and a big field, woodland glade and a treehouse to explore and enjoy! 

The ceremony has begun in the woodland glade.

The Wedding Ceremony

Sarah and Andy wanted a romantic and magical ceremony that involved their family and friends. We met at a super old hotel in nearby Lutterworth, the Greyhound Inn, one Saturday and discussed their ideas and dreams for the day. They decided to include a symbolic ceremony as part of the whole affair. This would be a Handfasting ribbon ceremony to seal their love! 

The ribbon is doubled up and placed over the couples’ hands with the loop nearer the guests. 

The Handfasting Ceremony 

There are many types of Handfasting ceremonies and Sarah and Andy chose to have the Ribbon ceremony in which their hands would be tied together. As the groom’s family has Scottish roots they decided to have a tartan ribbon from their Clan. They wanted their mothers to take part in this symbolic ceremony too. So the two mothers tied on their own red ribbons to demonstrate their love and support for the newly married couple.

The ends are being pulled through the loop.

The Colours of the Ribbons 

There are thirteen colours that are used for Handfasting and each has multiple meanings! By using a tartan ribbon Sarah and Andy virtually covered the whole range of colours! In addition, they chose red for their mums. This colour represents all these qualities: love, passion, health, courage,  strength, fertility and vigour!

The ends are through and being tightened!

The Different Types of Fastenings

Ribbons of different colours, widths and materials can be used for the Handfasting. If the couple prefer they can have a twisted cord made up of three or more colours which can be made in advance of the ceremony or the ribbons/cords can be made into a cord during the ceremony with family and friends each adding a different coloured cord to represent their blessing for the happy couple. 

The ribbon is fastened up.

The Background to Handfasting  

The photos below demonstrate the ceremony.  It can take five minutes: it can take fifteen minutes depending on the loving words and poems that the couple choose to demonstrate their feelings for each other and their future live together. This ceremony has no legal status but is an ancient custom that dates back over a thousand years and is from whence the expression’ tying the knot’ originates. This part of the wedding ceremony was wonderful as the woodland setting  gave the Handfasting a magical and timeless aura.

The mums are tying on the red ribbons

Step by Step

Sarah and Andy faced one another and took each other’s right hand as if to shake it; with plenty of room for the guests to see. Then, the 2m long ribbon was doubled up and placed over both their hands with the folded part of the ribbon hanging away from me. I then took this and threaded the two ends of the ribbon through the loop. This then tightened the loop and allowed the two ribbons to be easily decorated by the two mothers. The red ribbons were about a metre long and each was tied into a bow which everyone could see. The couple kept the ribbon on and then at the end of the wedding ceremony , easily slipped it off and passed it over to their Maid of Honour for safekeeping.  

On both sides.


May your love and marriage be as steadfast and tightly bound as your lovers’ knot.

Thanks to: Photographers: https://www.truereflectionphotography.co.uk

Venue:  https://www.cotesbach.net/weddings

Venue: https://www.greyhoundinn.co.uk