During the Handfasting ceremony, the couple’s hands are tied together with one or several colored cords or ribbons, symbolizing the desire of the couple to be united. The cord is often kept by the couple in a box or ornate bag as a reminder of their vows. Handfastings, done in the past as a commitment for a year and a day, can be combined with ring vows and a license to make it a legally binding contract.

All of the cord colors have meaning. The cords can either be several colors twisted into one cord and used for a single cord ceremony, or each color can be draped individually up to six cords.

Here are some of the meanings attached to the colors:

Red: Will, love, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigor, passion.

Orange: Encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, plenty, kindness.

Yellow: Attraction, charm, confidence, balance, harmony.

Green: Fertility, luck, prosperity, nurturing, beauty, health, love.

Blue: Safe journey, longevity, strength.

Purple: Healing, health, strength, power, progress.

Black: Strength, empowerment, wisdom/vision, success, pure love.

White: Spiritual purity, truth, peace, serenity and devotion.

Gray: Balance, neutrality, used in erasing, canceling, neutralizing, and return to the universe without repercussion.

Pink: Love, unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness.

Brown: Healing , skills and talent, nurturing, home and hearth, the earth.

Silver: Creativity, inspiration and vision, and protection.

Gold: Unity, longevity, prosperity, strength.

(Officiant begins by saying:)

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps you’ve wondered where the words “tying the knot” come from. The expression actually refers to an early Keltic marriage ritual called a “Handfasting.”

After the wedding vows and ring exchange, the couple’s left wrists were bound together with colored cord or ribbon, signifying the joining of their lives in sacred union.

A modern handfasting is a symbolic ceremony to honor a couple’s desire for commitment to each other, and to acknowledge that their lives and their destinies are now bound together.

For a traditional handfasting, a couple may choose cords in up to 13 different colors, each with its own symbolic meaning. The colors the couple has chosen are:

Orange, for encouragement, adaptability, attraction and kindness.

Green, for fertility, luck, prosperity and beauty

Light Blue, for tranquility, understanding, patience and health

Brown, for healing , talent, nurturing, home and hearth

(Officiant holds up the cords and addresses the couple with these words:)

Groom and Bride, now that your vows of love have been spoken, I’ll ask you, please, to cross your arms, and take each other’s hands. By joining your hands in this manner, you create the sign of infinity. So may your love for one another have no limits, and your time together have no end.

The cords are a symbol of the life you have chosen to live together. Up until this moment you have been separate in thought, word, and deed. As the cords are tied together, so shall your lives become intertwined.

With these cords, I bind you to the vows that you have made to one another. With this knot, I tie you heart to heart, together as one.

(Officiant wraps the cord loosely around the couple’s wrists to tie a “love knot”)

Groom and Bride, the knot of this binding is not bound by the cord, but rather, by your own vows of love. For, as always, you hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union. May this “love knot” always be a reminder of the binding together of two hands, two hearts, and two souls into one.

(Couple removes their wrists from the knotted card.)

And so are you bound, each to the other, for all the days of your lives.

(Cord is placed aside. Many couples choose to keep the “love knot” as a memento of the new union created that day.)