Tying the Knot – an Ideal Unity Ritual
By Heather Barron, Wedding Officiant/Marriage Celebrant
When I ask couples what they would like as a Unity Ritual in their wedding ceremony, often the only thing they can think of is lighting a unity candle. Based on TV and movie weddings, I can understand why. This seems to be the only Unity Ceremony ever portrayed. There are so many other options for this special moment in a wedding ceremony. And here in Colorado, it is especially good to choose something other than a ritual that depends on a flame remaining lit in the Rocky Mountain summer breeze or autumn blustery gusts. People can get awfully superstitious when the light blows out!
One of my favorite Unity Ceremonies is called Handfasting. Handfasting is an age-old ritual that can be traced to the British Isles thousands of years ago, and is where the term “tying the knot” comes from. The basics of Handfasting require a length of rope, cord, string, yarn, beautiful scarf, etcetera wrapped over clasped hands during the Unity Ceremony, which generally signifies the unification of the couples’ lives. The length of material is wrapped multiple times around joined hands, sometimes with a vow asked between each wrap and the couple responding in unison with, “We do” or We will.” Other times it is wrapped in silence. When the wrapping is complete, the officiant or beloved family members tie a knot in it to complete the symbolic unification. Then the rope is either slid off or left on through the vow exchange, and taken off to be replaced with wedding rings. The knot stays in.
Sometimes couples create their own cord, made from beautiful thread/yarn/string choosing colors that symbolized important qualities to them and braiding them together. A few couples have used climbing rope form memorable climbing adventures. One pair who met rafting used a throwbag (a bag filled with rope thrown to rescue boaters who’ve gone overboard – great symbolism from this was written into the ceremony). Another bride and groom even used a length of cotton t-shirt that held special memories for them, which they ripped in a circular way around the torso section to create one length of fabric. You can get as creative as you like!
A Handfasting Ceremony is an ideal Unity Ritual for couples traveling to their wedding site via plane, since it is easy to check or carry on, and can easily be taken with them after the ceremony. One of the many reasons I also love this ceremony is that you leave with a souvenir from your altar – one that can be displayed in the home or taken out on anniversaries as a reminder of promises made and vows exchanged.