(Serving the Amicalola Falls area in the North Georgia Mountains)
I always love weddings that are different, and the handfasting vows that this couple added to their wedding made it truly unique. According to Wikipedia, the term originated from the old Norse word hand-festa, which meant "to strike a bargain by joining hands."
It is similar to our tradition today of shaking hands with each other. It is a Pagan ritual that predates Christianity by several centuries.
If you are of Celtic heritage, this may be something that you wish to add to your ceremony in order to honor that. It involves tying a cord or ribbon of some sort around the hands of the bride and groom. In the case of this couple they had originally tied several ribbons of different colors together in a lariat style, with long ends hanging loose.
This is what I tied around their hands during the ceremony. They had practiced on themselves several times before the wedding to make sure that it worked well.
The idea is that the knot tied during the ceremony will never be untied during their marriage. It therefore represents the eternity of their love. They will keep that knot throughout their lives.
Here are the handfasting vows that Carter and Gary chose to use in their ceremony.
Do you have symbols of your love and these vows to give to each other? (Give pre-made cords to officiant.) These cords are a symbol of the truth of the vows you have spoken. They represent the eternal love that you share. Let these cords say to all that your commitment is deep and everlasting. As you wear them, may infinite love be nurtured through all your years to come.
Now join your hands, and with your hands, your hearts.
Officiant then ties the cords around the couple’s hands in a knot.
Here is a suggestion for other wording that you could incorporate into your ceremony as well. Feel free to vary the words according to your preference.
'These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch."
Of course, there are many sites on the web with information and suggestions for this tradition. I encourage you to do some research and come up with what resonates with the two of you if you decide to go this route. It is limited only by your imagination.