Handfasting Ceremony by Shannon Leahy
March 12, 2010
So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, Shannon Leahy put together THE coolest Irish inspired photoshoot ever and we loved it so much, that we've asked her to stick around a little bit longer today and share the secrets behind the gorgeous handfasting ceremony. It's such a lovely tradition and one that I know so many of you will find pretty freaking awesome.


to see more images, click right here! photographs by Larissa Cleveland

A handfasting ceremony is an ancient marriage ritual made popular in Ireland and Scotland during the Early Christian period. This symbolic lashing together of the couple's hands is the origin of the familiar expression, "tying the knot." Today, a handfasting ceremony is a beautiful and unique way to represent your union and honor your heritage.  The ritual takes place during the ceremony, before the rings are exchanged.

1. Pick ribbons and ropes of varying textures and materials that match the colors of your wedding. If you can, add in pieces that have special significance, like the trim from your grandmother’s wedding gown, or shoelaces from the groom's ancient pair of chucks. Jewels or gold chains can also be included to add a little bling.
2. Once you’ve collected your materials cut them all to about the same length. 36” - 48” should do the trick.
3. During the ceremony, have the officiant introduce the concept of handfasting so your guests can appreciate its history and significance.
4. Gather the ribbons together neatly and keep them that way while binding, so you end up with a clean, tidy look.
5. Stand facing each other and cross your arms in front of your bodies. Now, hold your partner's hands so that together your arms create a figure-eight, or the symbol for infinity.
6. While the officiant speaks have someone important to you, maybe your best man or maid of honor, take the ribbon and tie it around your wrists and through your hands to bind the two of you together. Have them finish with a visible knot. Protip: practice this at the rehearsal as it’s kind of tricky!
7. At this point the officiant can say a prayer or you can recite your vows while your hands are tied together.
8. After the ceremony, be sure to keep the ribbons! Find a creative use for them such as a tie for around your guestbook or photo album...

Event Design & Planning: Shannon Leahy / Photography: Larissa Cleveland / Flowers: Shannon Leahy & Anne Millett / Ceremony & Reception Location: Manka’s Boathouse / Invitations & Paper: Mira Aster / Shoes: Steve Madden / Dress: BCBG / Cake: Flours SF / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Tabletop Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Chairs: Blueprint Studios / Models: Erika Schneider and Travis Binen / Hair & Make-up: Ashley Wright