What is Handfasting?

Handfasting signifies a couple coming together as ‘One’. Lovers are united as they “Tie the Knot” in the tradition of Celtic Handfasting.

Whatever it’s original intention it has now become a popular new tradition for today’s couples seeking a new and spiritual way to honour their love.

  • Handfasting can be part of a traditional Wedding Ceremony, following the legal vows and exchange of rings, or at the start of the evening celebrations before the first dance.
  • Alternatively it can be carried out at a later date when family and friends gather to further celebrate your union in marriage.
  • Handfasting can be performed regardless of whether the couple are married or not as a standalone ceremony to demonstrate their commitment to each other.
  • Modern Handfasting can be performed for same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

During Handfasting a couple are symbolically bound together to demonstrate their commitment to one another.

Handfasting traditionally takes place at the engagement celebration or wedding ceremony but can be performed at any time for any couple, married or not. The couple make poignant and meaningful pledges or vows to one another, following ancient traditions.

It is neither pagan nor Christian but has its roots in Celtic history.

Prince William and his bride Kate were Handfasted together in St. Pauls Cathedral.

History of Handfasting

The term Handfasting is taken from Old Norse “hand-festa” meaning “to strike a bargain by joining hands”. Handfasting was commonly the way that couples were “officially” married in ancient Britain before the church became involved in wedding ceremonies and is mentioned in ancient Celtic legends. It was originally practiced by the Greeks and Romans. The Romans created a garland made of magnolia, elder and roses which was then wrapped around the couple’s wrists to signify love and fidelity. Variations on the theme have since been used in other countries as well. . Handfasting rituals in ancient Europe symbolised the betrothal of a couple (temporary or permanent) and involved the lightly tying together of the couple’s hands with a cord, ribbon or vine.

The ceremony was especially common in Ireland and Scotland. Handfasting has seen a modern day resurgence owing in part to the movie Braveheart, in which William Wallace and his girlfriend Murron are joined together with a handfasting ceremony.

Recognition of Handfasting in Marriage
  • Only a couple can seal the promise of a marriage to each other and only a couple can bind it. No power vested in a Celebrant or the church or registry office can declare what is felt and known to be in the hearts of two people in love. Only those two hearts can make that declaration and only those two souls can bring substance to the pledges and vows made in a Handfasting ceremony.
  • Marriage demonstrates a commitment made in the hearts of two people- a declaration of true love. So, when a couple are joined in a Handfasting ceremony (whether married or not) I will announce the truths that are already written in their hearts and which have been witnessed in the presence of their family and friends! In this way we will ALL share in the couple’s joy and happiness.
Handfasting Legalities

The 1753 Marriage Act, ended the Handfasting custom in England thus suppressing clandestine marriages with more stringent conditions for validity.

Handfasting has no legality in law in the UK where proof of legal marriage is by the signing and witnessing of a Marriage Certificate.

As an Independent Celebrant I will Handfast anyone and do not require proof of legal marriage.

The Handfasting marriage vows taken may be for “a year and a day,” “a lifetime”, “for all of eternity” or “for as long as love shall last.”

The ceremony is NOT LEGAL. It is a private spiritual commitment between the couple, who may choose to make it legal by also having a civil ceremony.



Each year Glenda attends the Glastonbury Festival by invitation on  a Staff/ Performers ticket with “Celebrant” printed on the ticket!

A beautiful outdoor space where ceremonies are conducted can be found in the tranquil Green Fields site.

Glenda, who is also an Energy Healer, can be found in the Healing Fields. She does energy healing in the mornings and conducts Handfastings Ceremonies for in the afternoons, prior to the start of the music.

The popularity of these Handfastings mean Glenda is kept very busy and it is proving essential to pre-book ceremonies.



Watch this to get a flavour of festival Handfasting Ceremony


 read some snippets from her guest book HERE

2016 will go down as the wettest Glastonbury festival!

See what the Daily Mail had to say


Arriving on the Sunday before the start of the festival cloud9ceremonies were able to set up in the dry but only just!

BBC listed cloud9ceremonies 4th in the Top 10 Wacky Things to do at Glastonbury in this link! 

IMG_0921During the festival the ceremony space was marked by a large white rope.The area inside the rope became a ‘no wellies’ zone and everybody respected this. By the end of the festival the rope was muddy but the grass was still standing.

It poured with rain all Sunday night. At the end of the festival all ‘workers’ in the fields were requested to delay their departure due to the intense mud slowing the exit of revellers.

On the Tuesday morning the sun shone and the ground dried on the hill .The huge van that came to collect all the items that had created such a beautiful space was able to drive onto the field. The van was loaded in the dry! It then started to spit with rain and then poured. We were ‘home and dry’ complete with dry yurt and ceremony tent!

2017 the BEST YEAR YET!

 2017 will go down as the busiest Glastonbury Festival for Handfastings!

A record number of couples were Handfasted this year in an unprecedented demand for cloud9ceremonies Handfasting Ceremonies in the Healing Fields. Those booking early enjoyed the fun and romance of a personalised Handfasting which also included a Cake and Ale ritual and jumping the Broom.Glenda had her first booking immediately after the previous years festival and started a waiting list  in January.The waiting list was closed when numbers reached 22 and a disappointed coupes list reached over 45 couples.




Handfastings at Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a World Heritage site on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire Southern England.

Many couples look on a Handfasting within the inner circle  at Stonehenge as the ultimate venue for their Handfasting.

Tourists to the site are not permitted to enter the inner circle of the ancient stones. However at dusk and dawn when the general public is not allowed entry access is permitted to small groups of people.

Cloud9ceremonies is able with sufficient notice to support you in applying for pre-booked advance tickets.   


   Handfastings at Avebury Circle

Avebury Circle together with Stonehenge,  is a World Heritage Site near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

However it is an open site and free to enter. If Stonehenge ticket availability does not coincide with your planned Handfasting date then Avebury or the Rollright stones could be an alternative option for you.

The site is very large and even when busy you will be sure to find a suitable ‘stone ‘that appeals to you.

Rollright Stones...

Rollright Stones

The Rollright stones are in the Cotswolds on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border in England.

There is no doubting that the Rollright Stone Circle, in common with many other ancient sites, is a place of mysterious beauty and subtle energies.

It seems highly likely that Neolithic men and women “not only shared these experiences, but had an understanding of how to find such places”.

This site is small and easily missed as you drive by but a wonderful place for a Handfasting!