A sunny mixed faith wedding in the heart of Edinburgh

As we mark the Winter Solstice this week, and the tilting of the earth back towards the light, it feels a lovely time to share a few highlights from Camille and Stewart’s surprisingly sunny September wedding.

Natalie Holt Photography

Their ceremony took place on the iconic Blackford Hill, overlooking Camille’s favourite view of Edinburgh and with a clear view to Fife, where Stewart was living when they first met. In their words, their wedding day was a time of “significant commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy.” Their dearest family and friends travelled from afar to join them, including many from Australia, Camille’s home country. And they definitely brought the good weather with them as, despite the weather warnings that week for wind and rain, their ceremony was blessed with glorious sunshine.

Natalie Holt Photography

When I first met Stewart and Camille we met for a chat on a bench in the Meadows in Edinburgh. It was clear from that first conversation that their ceremony would be incredibly personal. Camille’s family and many of their friends are Catholic, and Stewart’s family and friends are non-religious. We talked about the importance of their ceremony reflecting and celebrating the shared and varied beliefs of all involved and how, by choosing an Agnostic ceremony, we were able to hold space for them both in this way.

Natalie Holt Photography

We began with the ancient tradition of ring warming. As Camille and Stewart’s rings were passed around the gathering, from elders to children, each person was invited to hold the rings in their hands, or close to their heart, as they made a silent prayer, blessing or well-wishing thought for Stewart and Camille, to wish them well in the years ahead.

We heard a reading by a friend of Stewart’s and fellow sailor, A Gift from the Sea  by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which spoke beautifully of the evolving and enduring nature of a lifelong loving partnership.

“The only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Natalie Holt Photography

I shared the story of of how these two brilliant, independent people found each other: how Camille thought the “enigmatic and mysterious” Stewart was a spy for the first six months of their relationship (after all, what other job could explain the long periods away, and his very ambiguous responses when she asked him what he did on the ships for all that time?); how Stewart braved the intense heat of an Australian summer for Camille (and the friendly interrogation by all Camille’s family and friends); and how they both agree their complementary natures is what makes their relationship work. In Camille’s words, “our love is about individuality and is stronger because of it.”

Natalie Holt Photography

When we were planning their ceremony, Stewart and Camille had shared some secret thoughts with me when I asked them about their love and connection. With their permission, I shared their secret thoughts – the funny, the poignant and the heartfelt – as a lovely surprise for them both during the ceremony, giving sweet insight into their partnership for those present.

Natalie Holt Photography

Camille and Stewart made joint vows to each other then we invited everyone present to continue to support, love and encourage them them in the years to come.

And to all of you dear families and friends of Camille and Stewart, will you support and uphold them in their Marriage now and in all the many years to come?

“We will!”

In an emotional exchange of personal vows, Camille and Stewart shared some loving words with one another then gifted each other a ring.

It was my honour to declare Stewart and Camille married to the joyful whoops of their loved ones.

Natalie Holt Photography

That’s how to do a wedding! So personal … so loving.

The whole event felt like a hug. After the ceremony, one of Camille’s relatives came up to me and said “that’s how to do a wedding! So personal … so loving.” I couldn’t agree more. It really was beautiful.

Congratulations to you both, Camille and Stewart. I loved being your celebrant – thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. Thank you for sharing these details of your day with us all.Wishing you a magical 2023 and so much love and happiness for the years ahead.

Natalie Holt Photography

Thank you to Natalie Holt Photography for the stunning photographs.

Shout out to the amazing suppliers:

Flowers – Pollination

Cakes- The Pastry Section 

Dress- Trelis Cooper 

Headband and Jewellery- Forever Jems 

Makeup- Flamboyant Makeup

Grooms jackets – Kingdom Kilts 

Signs- The Little Dressing Company 

Reflections on a busy year and a sweet gem of a Scottish wedding

It’s been a wild and wonderful wedding season with ceremonies up mountains, in historic castles, on beaches and by riversides, in boutique hotels, cosy homes and magical family gardens. Some have been grand and elegant, laugh-while-you-weep-funny, some quietly romantic, some gentle and loving. We’ve heard music, sang songs, sipped toasts, blessed rings and read poetry. We’ve shared stories, mixed petals, tied ribbons, placed stones and lit candles. Every ceremony has sung of the personalities, beliefs and wishes of those involved.

As I coorie in towards the winter months, I feel so grateful to be invited to help shape these moments, to be trusted to hold space in this way, and to be able to enjoy time with wonderful families. Now that the season is slowing, I’m looking forward to sharing, with the kind permission of the couples involved, some of the details of this year’s ceremonies. Starting with Laura and Phil’s sweet gem of a May wedding …

When I was on my way home the other night, I saw an elderly couple walking along eating ice creams together. It was such a small thing but it made me realise how I wanted that for us both –  and not just because I wanted ice cream! You are the one I want to share these lovely small moments with because with you they feel like big moments in which we can share.

Laura and Phil
Solen Collet Photography

Laura and Phil’s ceremony in the heart of Leith was romantic, funny, and thoughtful. Their wish was for a “no fuss, simple, romantic” ceremony with a close circle of their friends and family that spoke of their love and togetherness.

Solen Collet Photography

The ceremony took place in a beautifully decorated room at the No11 Brunswick Hotel close to where they live. We shared the story of how these two unassuming people had been enjoying each other’s company so much that they fell into life together. We heard how they complement each other brilliantly and share the same outlook on life, both valuing the small, everyday things that bring them such joy.

Solen Collet Photography

Two of their dearest friends read a poem and played gorgeous music. We were all held by the simple intimacy and quiet authenticity of Phil and Laura’s ceremony – it was beautiful.

Solen Collet Photography

There wasn’t a dry eye in the gathering as Laura and Phil exchanged personal vows then gifted each other a ring.

Solen Collet Photography

They made their Marriage Vows to each other with a traditional Handfasting with two woven cords that held important symbolism for them both. The purple cord representing the Highlands where Laura grew up and a special place for them both. The teal cord presenting their love of holidaying by the sea.

Solen Collet Photography

As they tied their Eternity Knot, it was my pleasure to declare Phil and Laura married to the delighted cheers and happy tears of their family and friends.

Solen Collet Photography

So much love and congratulations to you both, Laura and Phil. Thank you so much for trusting me to be your celebrant and for sharing these gorgeous details of your day with us all. May you have many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the beautiful walks, tea and cake, and happiness you could wish for.

Solen Collet Photography

Thank you to Solen Collet Photography for sharing these lovely photos.

A Wedding Celebration in the heart of East Lothian

A wedding is made up of so many beautiful moments. Emily and Steven’s ceremony at Colstoun House in East Lothian was a perfect blend of quiet reflection, deep connection, hilarity and sentiment. Being of different faiths, it was important to them both that they make their life promises to each other in a shared ceremony that reflected and respected their combined beliefs and values. Steven and Emily had chosen to make their legal Marriage declarations to one another in a Catholic ceremony the following day. Their gathering amidst the flowers in the garden at Colstoun was a celebration of their love involving all those closest to them. And it was gorgeous.

Claire Fleck Photography

As the ceremony began, just before Emily walked up their wedding aisle, two butterflies fluttered about the guests seated on the front rows. We all delighted as the butterflies landed softly on the chairs, the song sheets, the guests. It felt poignant that these two kind-hearted people who care so deeply about the environment should be blessed by nature on their wedding day. And, as the ceremony progressed, we were held by the gentle hum of the bees buzzing about the polytunnel and the occasional gust of birdsong from nearby trees.

Claire Fleck Photography

We heard the brilliant story of how Emily and Steven first found each other. We reflected on all that had brought them to be standing together on their wedding day. A friend gave an excellent speech which made us all laugh and cry.

Claire Fleck Photography

We sang a hymn to gather everyone into the space and we talked about love. We heard the magical story of Steven’s proposal to Emily on a boat in the Mediterranean under a sky full of stars. We spoke of their hopes and dreams for the future.

Claire Fleck Photography

Emily, I promise to always look at the moon with you when you shout “WOW LOOK AT THE MOON!” 

To always take time to dance with you in the kitchen 

You might not be the best at directions but you are always there to navigate me through life and support me in everything I do. It doesn’t matter about the destination because being with you feels like home. 

Steven, I promise to be there for you in times of sorrow, including when you’re sobbing hysterically at Christmas movies

I promise to join you each time you break into dance

I promise to not only grow old together, but to grow together… and when the day comes that we’re old, I promise to look at you with the same eyes and same heart as I do right now.

Steven and Emily’s vows were personal, fun, heartfelt and unique. There wasn’t a dry eye in the garden as we witnessed them sharing their loving words and gifting one another a ring. It was my honour to declare these two brilliant people married to the whistles and cheers of their family and friends.

The ceremony concluded with a Quaich toast led by Emily’s cousin. It involved a healthy dash of Frangelico – a drink Steven and Emily both love and that they enjoyed during their dating days – and, of course, the best men all shared a sip too!

Claire Fleck Photography

Whenever I meet up with celebrant friends we often talk about the importance of the couple being truly present in their ceremony. It’s such an emotional day, it’s easy to understand how the hype and the logistics might become the focus. What really matters though is being present for each other, knowing you are surrounded by people who love and care deeply for you, being able to connect with the words and rituals shared. We all felt it at Emily and Steven’s ceremony: a relaxed lightness, their deep connection and so, so much love. It was an honour and a privilege to be part of their beautiful day.

Emily and Steven, thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. Here’s wishing you many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the great walks, sunset paddle boarding, and happiness you could hope for. Congratulations!

Thanks also to Claire Fleck Photography for these stunning photos.

Claire Fleck Photography

A peaceful, windswept Scottish beach wedding

“From the beginning, our relationship has felt right and peaceful and like coming home.”

Emily and Jo
Silvya Palladino Photography

Jo and Emily made their Marriage promises to each other close to the beautiful, windswept Lunan Bay in Angus. It was a day of tropical winds, poetry and connection, flowers and laughter. In an intimate gathering of their closest friends and family, we celebrated these two wonderful people.

To open the ceremony, a family member shared Mary Oliver’s timeless poem, Wild Geese; a poem that has special meaning to Emily and Jo as it reminds them of another beautiful day when they were walking at Lunan Bay, and they saw a huge V of geese flying overhead.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things

Mary Oliver
Silvya Palladino Photography

Emily and Jo chose to include an Oathing Stone ritual in their ceremony in honour of the ancient Celtic belief that vows made in the presence of water and stone are especially binding, and also as a nod to the windowsills full of stones that they have at home, having pocketed them on their adventures together.

Silvya Palladino Photography

Holding the stone in their joined hands, they reflected on the journey that has brought them to be where they are today. They placed the stone on the earth close to them, as is tradition, then Jo shared a reading she had chosen especially for Emily from “I like you” by Sandol Stoddart Worburg.

Silvya Palladino Photography

I like you because

I don’t know why but 

Everything that happens 

Is nicer with you 

I will go on choosing you

And you will 

Go on choosing me 

Over and over again 

An extract of “I like you” by  Sandol Stoddart Worburg

We talked of love and connection and the values Jo and Emily both hold dear to their hearts. We shared insights into how brilliantly they complement one another, and what Marriage means to them both. Then Jo and Emily made shared promises and, as they made their Marriage Vows to one another, they gifted each other rings.

Silvya Palladino Photography

As the tropical storm picked up around us, it was my honour to declare Emily and Jo married to the whoops and cheers of their family and friends. The ceremony closed with a reading by Emily’s mum, Liz; A Blessing for a Wedding by Jane Hirschfield. The whole event was gorgeous and so perfect for these two nature-loving, kind-hearted, creative people.

When I asked you what the spirit of your relationship is, you told me that your relationship is grounded and peaceful. Your love feels very simple, which makes your relationship feel simple too. It feels uncomplicated and natural. You have a good time together, whatever you are doing. 

So much love to you both, Jo and Emily. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony. I absolutely loved being your celebrant. Wishing you many wonderful adventures in the years to come with all the star-gazing, sea-dipping and picnics you could hope for.

Silvya Palladino Photography

Thank you to Silvya Palladino Photography for the glorious photos.

An elegant, romantic Scottish wedding

“This is it, this is what the entire world is after and you’ve stumbled upon it by chance, by accident – so take a deep breath, take a step forward, now run, collide like planets in the system of a dying sun, embrace each other with both arms and let all the rules, the opinions and common sense crash down around you. Because this is love.”

Beau Taplin
Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Fiona and Tim affirmed their love to one another on a sunny May day in an elegant, traditional ceremony at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. The gardens were resplendent in bloom. We filled the Caledonian Hall with love, stories, music and laughter.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

I promise to give you my all in everything we do, as you are the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Tim and Fiona made personal promises and gifted each other rings. They chose each other in Marriage to the delighted cheers of their family and friends. 

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Fiona shared with me when we were planning their ceremony that there had been a point, early in their relationship, where she was worried she and Tim had such different personalities that it could surely never work. They both realised very quickly that their differences are what actually make it work.

They’ve grown as people as they’ve grown closer. And they’ve expanded each other’s horizons. Or rather, to quote Tim, “Fiona’s more into sport now and I definitely watch more musicals.” Hearing the sweet, funny story of how these two brilliant people found each other and fell into life together was so heartwarming.

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

After the ceremony, Tim’s dad told me “that was really special.” And it really was so personal and fun. The joy was palpable as we all witnessed Fiona and Tim, who met on the dance floor, dance into their married future together. 

Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Congratulations Tim and Fiona! Wishing you a future filled with musicals, Percy Pigs, road trips and all the happiness and adventure you could wish for in your lives together. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for choosing to share these sweet details with us all.

Thank you to the wonderful Nikki Leadbetter for the beautiful photos.

“We Still Do!” A romantic Scottish Vow Renewal

You have my heart and soul and I’m so happy to share the rest of our lives together. 

A lifetime to love and hold you is my only wish, my love for you is forever.

Shawnie and Dan

When Shawnie and Dan first contacted me to plan their elopement Vow Renewal ceremony it was immediately clear that theirs would be an incredibly special day. Scotland had been a place Shawnie had longed to visit for most of her life, for “the beauty, the tradition and the romance.” It took overcoming her fear of flying for her to brave the long journey from California with Dan by her side. In Shawnie’s words, “it was worth it to visit the most beautiful country in the world.”

Dan and Shawnie’s Vow Renewal was a celebration of 15 years of marriage, 20 years together, and many joyful years of family life. Their ceremony, in a quiet room at the historic Shieldhill Castle, was gentle, loving and relaxed. It was such a pleasure to hold space for these two high school sweethearts who have been through so much together and who clearly have a great time whatever they do.

Dan and Shawnie first met when Shawnie was in Sophomore year and Dan was just out of high school. It was at a memorable high school dance that they fell in love, and they have been together ever since. Now they live in their beautiful home together in Fortuna by the river and the redwoods with their four children and two sweet dogs. Over the years, they’ve supported each other through life’s challenges and made the most of their time together, treasuring the small everyday moments with their singing, trumpet-playing, roller-skating, hilarious, thoughtful children and the happy chaos of their home. In their words, “We wouldn’t ever change a thing.” 

We opened the ceremony with an Oathing Stone ritual with Dan and Shawnie both placing their hands on the stone as they reflected on all that had brought them to be where they are today. In ancient Celtic belief, vows made by stone and water are said to be more binding. They placed their Oathing Stone close to them as is tradition – next to their handmade “We still do!” sign.

We reflected on memorable moments of their time together – the fun, the hard, the beautiful and the brilliant. I made up scrolls for Shawnie and Dan to share heartfelt words with each other that they had kept secret until the day. They gifted each other a ring.

Shawnie and Dan affirmed their love with a traditional Handfasting, the plaited ribbons symbolising their love and connection and their family.

Do you affirm your commitment to your constant friend, your partner in life and your one true love? 

Do you promise to love them without reservation,

Honour and respect them, 

Protect them from harm,

Comfort them in times of distress, 

And to grow with them in mind and spirit

For all your many years to come?

It was my honour to affirm their commitment and to declare them again as life partners.

There are so many reasons to consider renewing vows. Perhaps it’s an anniversary, a chance to honour the completion of your family, a moment to celebrate overcoming hardship, or an opportunity to declare your love in the presence of family and friends. Whatever the reason, a Vow Renewal ceremony is a beautiful opportunity to pause, to reflect on your journey as a couple so far, to acknowledge all that you have achieved together, and to renew your Marriage vows and set your intentions for the coming years. 

Witnessing Dan and Shawnie slow dance after the ceremony – just the two of them dancing together overlooking the beautiful South Lanarkshire countryside – made me appreciate again how important it is that we savour these moments, that we remember to pause, to reflect, to give thanks for all that we have and all that we are. Dan and Shawnie’s Vow Renewal ceremony was gorgeous and I am so happy for this wonderful couple and their lively, entertaining, joyful family.

Congratulations to you both, Dan and Shawnie! Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for sharing these lovely details of your day. It was a pleasure and an honour being your celebrant and I look forward to welcoming you to Scotland again in the future.

It was super to meet Jonathan and Claire from Love Weddings and Film. Thank you for these stunning photos.

A beautiful bilingual Edinburgh wedding

It’s all about love.

Ying and Ao
Little Forest Studio

Ying and Ao first contacted me just six weeks before their planned wedding celebration. They had already made their legal Marriage promises to one another in an intimate ceremony in China and were delighted to discover soon after that they will be welcoming a new member to their family. Their Edinburgh wedding was an opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment – and their exciting news – with their wider friends and family.

Little Forest Studio

Their ceremony was simple, beautiful and relaxed. It took place at the gorgeous Carberry Tower in East Lothian on a beautiful, sunny day. We shared words in both English and Mandarin to honour Ao and Ying’s heritage and their love of Scotland.

Little Forest Studio

Family is at the heart of Chinese culture and it was really important to both Ao and Ying that their families be included in their day. We heard funny, heartfelt, poignant words from their close friend and Ao’s uncle. And, as Ao and Ying’s parents were unable to make the journey from China, another close friend surprised them both with a message in Mandarin from their parents, which we had kept secret until the day.

Little Forest Studio

We talked about love and family, Marriage and commitment. Ying and Ao shared personal vows and gifted each other a wedding ring.

They affirmed their Marriage Vows with a traditional Handfasting.

Little Forest Studio

Ying and Ao, this cord is a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. The cord is woven from a red ribbon, white ribbon and gold string. Red in Chinese culture represents luck, happiness and strength. White represents their pure love and heart, and the golden string represents prosperity and wisdom. These cords are intertwined to represent your hopes and blessings for your future.

Ao and Ying toasted their future with a shared sip of Irn Bru from their Quaich to honour their decision to make their home in Scotland.

Little Forest Studio

It was such an honour to be part of this gorgeous, fun ceremony. Thank you, Ying and Ao, for trusting me to be your celebrant and for choosing to share these sweet details of your day with us all. Wishing you all the best for the future and all the exciting times ahead.

Thank you to Little Forest Studio for these lovely photos.

A traditional, uplifting Edinburgh wedding

A great mix of emotion and joy.

Claire Tennant Photography

When I met with Shona and Nathan to plan their wedding ceremony, they told me they’d like a simple, beautiful, traditional ceremony in which they can both make their Marriage commitments to one another in the presence of their families and closest friends, the people most important to them. They also said they didn’t want a ceremony that was “too lovey dovey.”

Their ceremony took place at the gorgeous Carberry Tower in East Lothian. Their gathering was mixed faith, representing several different beliefs and denominations. It was my pleasure to lead a ceremony in which the shared and varied beliefs of all participating were welcome and respected.

We had a blast celebrating these two kind-hearted, fun-loving people who both share a great love of cats, good food and the same fab sense of humour.

Claire Tennant Photography

We shared a bit about their story; from the moment Shona and Nathan first set eyes on each other – or to use Nathan’s words, since “Shona first interrogated him” – to the amazing journey they have been on together to their beautiful sunset engagement in Tenerife.

We all enjoyed a moment of peaceful reflection, in which everyone was invited to pause to consider the loving and binding commitments Shona and Nathan were choosing to make to each other and, if they wish, to send a prayer, blessing or well-wishing thought their way.

Shona and Nathan exchanged rings and emotional vows. Then they enjoyed their first married toast with a shared drink from the Quaich.

Claire Tennant Photography

As Shona’s mum said after the ceremony, “it was perfect, inclusive and fun, so personal, and really got to the essence of Shona and Nathan’s relationship.” We even managed to conjure a couple of cats! Much to the delight of their family and friends, two cats sauntered across the garden behind the chapel just as I was wishing Shona and Nathan “a future filled with cats.”

Congratulations Shona and Nathan! I absolutely loved being your celebrant. Thank you for trusting me with your ceremony and for choosing to share these details of your day with us all.

Wishing you so much love and happiness for your future together (and all the cats you could wish for!)

Thank you also to Claire Tennant for sharing these gorgeous photos.

Claire Tennant Photography

An Epic Scottish Castle Wedding

Derek Christie Photography

 “I promise to always be your most loyal friend, and at times your worst nightmare.

I promise to love you always no matter what tomorrow brings.”

“I promise to be here for you, and support you, whenever you need me – even when I think you’ve lost your mind. 

I promise to try to make you smile everyday – even when Liverpool are losing.”

Rebecca and Michael

Planning Rebecca and Michael’s ceremony with them was wonderful fun.Their wedding was an opportunity to bring together all their friends and family in one place to celebrate their six years together and to share in their love and happiness. It was a chance to give thanks to their loved ones for all the laughs and fun they’ve shared so far, and for everyone to get excited for all that the future will bring.

Derek Christie Photography

Their wedding took place in the historic Dundas Castle in South Queensferry. It was a glorious day and everyone they had hoped would be there had managed to join them, which felt especially poignant after the past two years of restrictions.

Derek Christie Photography

The spellbindingly atmospheric 15th century Auld Keep was the perfect setting. The room was bursting with love and laughter as we shared Michael and Rebecca’s story so far – how they both bonded over their similar outlook and shared sense of humour, how Becca challenged Mike to an arm wrestle on their first date (which she lost), and how despite this (or perhaps because of it) they quickly realised they really liked each other.

Derek Christie Photography

We heard about the adventures this travel-loving duo have shared, and their hopes and wishes for the future (including their plans to adopt a Pomsky puppy). I shared some secret thoughts that Mike and Becca had shared with me when I asked about their love and connection, prompting a great deal of happy tears and laughter. A friend recited an insightful poem she had written especially for them both for the day.

Derek Christie Photography

Then Rebecca and Michael made their personal vows to each other and gifted rings, before sealing their Marriage vows with a traditional Handfasting. They tied an Eternity Knot with two swathes of tartan representing their two families.

It was my privilege to declare Michael and Rebecca legally married to the cheers of their family and friends.

Derek Christie Photography

There is something timeless about witnessing a couple exchanging their enduring vows in a place so steeped in history. It was such an honour and a privilege to lead this fun, thoughtful, personal ceremony.

Congratulations to you both, Mike and Becca. Thank you for trusting me to be your celebrant, and thank you for choosing to share these beautiful details of your day with us all. Wishing you so much love for your future together.

Derek Christie Photography

Thank you to Derek Christie for sharing these stunning photos. It was great working with you again.

Shout out to the epic team of suppliers:

Ronald Joyce Bridal

Lace and Button Bridal

Danielle Hair Dressing

Kilter Ceilidh Music

Singers 4 Supper

Becky’s Flowers

Fays Cakes

Heritage Portfolio

Natalie McKenzie Bridal Make Up

Eve Learmonth Make Up Artist

Including a Scottish Handfasting in your wedding ceremony

Incorporating a Handfasting ritual into your Marriage or Vow Renewal is a beautiful opportunity to add personal details to your ceremony. There are so many unique ways that a Handfasting ritual can add meaningful connection to you both.

Handfasting is a symbolic ritual that has its roots in ancient Celtic tradition. By binding your hands together, you are declaring your love and intention to share your lives together. A Handfasting binding represents the coming together of two individuals and two families. 

Take a moment to reflect on your loving connection. Feel the warmth, respect and love that you have for each other fill your heart, as you hold each other’s hands. 

As these ribbons are tied together, your lives – your pasts, presents and futures – become intertwined in thought, word and action. In binding your hands together, you are declaring your wish and intention to leave this place today with your lives bound together as one. After today, the two paths of your lives will come together as one, and two sets of hopes and desires for the future will be joined in commitment and intention.

Kris Soul Photography

It is up to you when you choose to include a Handfasting ritual in your ceremony. For some, the tying of the knot becomes an intention-setting declaration at the start of the ceremony, gathering loved ones into the space. Each person is invited to gift a ribbon with symbolic qualities or elements that you might wish to weave into your vows. This is also a lovely way to involve children.

The first four ribbons represent the four elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water, which Ali and Ori believe are present in all of nature and in all of us, and whose energy determine and shape so much of our lives. 

The next four ribbons represent Joy, Partnership, Communication and Trust – values and qualities which they hold particularly dear.

The ninth ribbon represents their past; their ancestors and their own personal histories, everything which has brought them to this place and this moment. 

The tenth ribbon stands for all their friends and family, and the important role each one of you plays in their lives. 

The eleventh ribbon stands for the unknown; the mystery and hidden secrets of life. And the final ribbon stands simply for love.

An extract from Aliya and Ori’s Marriage ceremony
We Are Elopers

For others, a Handfasting can be an affirmation of shared promises midway through the ceremony. If you wish, you could warm your wedding bands between your joined hands while making your shared promises, ready to exchange rings when you make your legally binding Marriage vows.

Do you promise to give each other the freedom you need to grow as individuals, to be inspired and to seize life?

“We will!” 

Rachel and Tonie Photography

Traditionally, a Handfasting would take place when you make your legally binding Marriage Vows to one another (when you say your “I do!” or repeat-after-me vows), thereby symbolically ‘tying the knot’. If you choose this option, you might have exchanged rings earlier in the ceremony, perhaps when you make your personal vows to one another or after sharing some loving words with each other. The Handfasting ribbons – and the knots you tie – then become a symbolic keepsake of your Marriage declarations.

“As I give you my hand, so I give you my heart.”

There are so many options for tying the knot! There are loose knots and gift knots, eternity knots and wrap knots. There are knots where the celebrant (or a friend or family member) can tie the ribbons for you, or knots where you can tie your own dramatic knot.

Jonnie + Garrett

Handfasting bindings can be made of tartan or lace, ribbons or cords. They can be handmade or shop bought, intricate or simple. They can be anything you wish them to be.

In one ceremony, the couple chose a ship’s rope as their Handfasting bindings to honour their love of the sea.

In another ceremony, the couple made Handfasting ribbons out of their festival gig wristbands to celebrate their love of music and gigging. 

Siobhan Stewart Photography

The words shared during a Handfasting ritual can be sculpted and shaped to reflect the personalities and interests of the two people exchanging promises. Some couples choose to include traditional Handfasting wording, even if they are not binding their hands with ribbons or cords.

Know that, as you have done throughout the time you have been together, so you will love each other from this day forward. Know that these will be the hands that you hold tomorrow, and the next day, and into the next decade.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours as you build your life together, the hands that will touch you with love and tenderness through the years, and the hands that will comfort you like no others’ can.

These are the hands that will hold you through grief, fear and hardship.

These are the hands that will wipe tears of joy and sorrow from your eyes, and will tenderly hold your children.

These are the hands that will hold your family together, and that will give you strength when you need it.

These are the hands that, when life slows and the gift of old age comes upon you, will still be reaching for yours. 

Ian Linton Photography

If you would like a Handfasting ritual in your ceremony, I will gladly help you decide what will work best for you. The type of Handfasting you choose and the words that we weave will always be a reflection of your personalities and your own loving connection. 

Thank you to all the couples and photographers who generously gifted their photos for this post about Handfasting. I am so grateful to be able to share these gorgeous details with couples planning their own ceremonies. Thank you!

Raini Rowell Photography

Slideshow images:

Paul Maguire Photography (blue and white ribbons draped over joined hands)

Raini Rowell Photography (intricate plaited ribbons and cords bound around joined hands)

Rachel and Tonie Photography (embroidered pastel coloured ribbons)