Marry Us Gary

Civil Marriage Celebrant Sydney, New South Wales

sydney handfasting ceremony

What Happens at a Handfasting Ceremony?

Looking for a Marriage Celebrant in Sydney, NSW? Then Marry Us Gary is the place for you!

I’m here if you need a funny, male wedding celebrant and wedding master of ceremonies, based in NSW, who services the Sydney region and beyond. I am a professional and fun Civil Marriage Celebrant who is relaxed, non-religious, and ready to officiate your civil marriage. Hire me to make sure your marriage celebration goes off without a hitch.

A Handfasting Ceremony has become a popular addition to civil marriage ceremonies. Especially if one or both members of the couple have Scottish or Irish ancestry. Once the handfasting ribbons have been sourced, let’s check out what happens at a Sydney Handfasting Ceremony.

What is a Handfasting Ceremony?

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic ritual where the couple’s hands are tied together to symbolize their two lives being bound together. This ceremony has been included in Wiccan and Pagan ceremonies but also shows up in religious and secular ceremonies. As a symbol of unity, a handfasting ceremony can add an extra layer of meaning to the event. While it may not be the right choice for every couple, you may want to learn more about this ceremony and how it can be incorporated into your special day.

History and Meaning

The handfasting ceremony dates back to 7000 BC and ancient Ireland. Two people who were going to be married were brought together where their hands were tied with ribbon or a cord in front of the priest. This act was not the marriage ceremony but acknowledged that the couple was engaged. The event was a symbol that marked the couple’s intention to be married. It signaled potential suitors that the couple was no longer available for other attention as well. At the end of the year, the couple would return to the priest and declare their intent to marry or state that they had decided they were no longer a good match. If the couple decided that they were no longer interested in pursuing marriage, they were each released to seek out other relationships if desired.

handfasting ceremony

How is the Ceremony Performed?

Handfasting ceremonies are a particular part of wedding traditions and you can have your officiant conduct it. There are also professionals who do them on a regular basis who can also perform them if desired. In the ceremony, the couple may choose to cross hands and hold them. They may also join hands if desired.

The officiant will tie a cord or ribbon around the couple’s wrist. Traditionally, cords or ribbon are used although you can choose any rope like materials. You can add charms to the cords such as beads or shells. For symbolism, couples may also choose to have natural garlands or flowers woven together for the ceremony.

Family members may perform readings during the ceremony, and relatives are often invited to bring forward the fabrics or ropes.

Is the Handfasting Ceremony a Part of the Wedding Ceremony?

This can be done as a part of the wedding but it may also be done during an engagement. Since it was historically done to announce the intention to marry, couples often use it when choosing to live together or announcing a special occasion. It may even be done during anniversaries or renewing vows if desired.

How Long Does It Last?

The ceremony involves having the officiant explain the ritual and its meaning to the couple and guests. It will then take place while the officiant reads a series of vows while the cords are wrapped around their hands. After their hands are bound, the couple may then exchange additional vows if desired. The entire handfasting ceremony can take around 5-10 minutes but may be longer or shorter depending on the couple’s wishes.

Is a Handfasting Ceremony Legal?

While the ceremony has a long and rich tradition, it is not a legally requirement of a civil marriage ceremony. The officiant will also perform separate legal requirements if the ceremony takes place during the wedding. This does not mean that it replaces a wedding but simply adds a layer of beauty and meaning to the event.

Who Brings the Ribbons for the Handfasting Ceremony?

It’s common for the couple to bring their own ribbons or cords to the ceremony. They can consult with family and friends on what would work best. There are not any specific rules in this area so couples can choose pieces that have meaning to themselves. If unsure of what to choose, you may want to use a simple option. One take on a handfasting is that each ribbon represents a different family. The Bride’s Family, The Groom’s Family, and the New Family the couple create.


Whether you want to do a handfasting ceremony or not, you do want a professional at your wedding who can help you manage the flow of your special day. Check out our services at to learn more about our wedding MC services and marriage celebrant services. With years of experience, we know how to make sure your special day goes off without a hitch. If you want to learn more about becoming a wedding MC, consider taking our online course to learn more if this career is right for you.

Northern Beaches Marriage Celebrant

Gary’s goal is for you to have the best wedding day possible!  He is an enthusiastic, grounded, fun-loving and relaxed Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC based in Australia. 
He was an electrician who loved his wedding so much, he quit his job and became a full-time celebrant. 
He’s here to help you plan your wedding and get the party started!