All About Handfastings and Pagan Weddings

An Ancient Wedding Tradition

Looking for information on how to hold a Pagan handfasting ceremony? Here's where we've got it all covered, from the origins of handfastings to jumping the broom to selecting your cake! Also, be sure to learn about magical handfasting favors to give your guests, and find out what you need to ask the person who's performing your ceremony.

Handfasting History: An Old Tradition Made New

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Handfasting was common centuries ago in the British Isles ​and then vanished for a while. Now, however, it's seeing a rising popularity among Wiccan and Pagan couples who are interested in tying the knot. Many Pagan and Wiccan couples choose to have a handfasting ritual instead of a traditional wedding ceremony.

In some cases, it may be simply ceremonial—a couple declaring their love for one another without the benefit of a state license. For other couples, it can be tied in with a state marriage certification issued by a legally authorized party such as a clergyperson or justice of the peace. Either way, it's becoming more and more popular, as Pagan and Wiccan couples are seeing that there is indeed an alternative for non-Christians who want more than just a courthouse wedding.​

Handfasting Tips: How to Have a Magical Ceremony

Wedding Couple
Make your day a magical one!. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Spring is here, and love is in the air! For many people of Pagan faiths, this is the time of year for a handfasting ceremony. If you're lucky enough to have someone you love this much, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind while planning your handfasting ceremony.

How to Choose Your Handfasting Cake

Handfasting Cake
Your handfasting cake can be as unique as you want!. stockstudioX/E+/Getty Images

If you're holding a handfasting instead of a traditional wedding, you may want to do something special instead of just having a traditional cake. Sharing a cake with your new spouse is a time-honored tradition that goes back many centuries, so if you're looking for something a bit different, you might want to try something that reflects that history.

Jumping the Broom: A Besom Wedding

High Angle View Of Brooms For Sale In Market
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Along with the popularity of handfasting ceremonies, there has been a resurgence in interest among Pagans and Wiccans in the idea of a "besom wedding". This is a ceremony also referred to as "jumping the broom," with the broom representing the threshold of the home. This tradition probably originated in medieval Wales ​but was commonly used as the only form of wedding available to enslaved African Americans in the United States. 

Deities of Marriage and Love

Eros, or Cupid, is a well known god of love. Image by Chris Schmidt/E+/Getty Images

Throughout history, nearly all cultures have had gods and goddesses associated with love and marriage. Although a few are male (Eros and Cupid come to mind) most are female, because the institution of marriage has long been viewed as the domain of women. If you're doing a working relating to love, or if you wish to honor a particular deity as part of a marriage ceremony, these are some of the gods and goddesses associated with the very human emotion of love.

Sample Handfasting Ceremony Template

Wedding Couple
Are you ready for a handfasting?. Nerida McMurray Photography/Taxi/Getty Images

If you're planning on having a handfasting ceremony rather than a traditional wedding, you may want to work with your Pagan clergyperson on the writing of the vows. This is a sample ceremony that you can make adjustments to based on your needs and your spiritual tradition.

Who Can Perform a Handfasting?

Do you know who can perform your handfasting?. Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images News

Handfastings are becoming more and more popular, as Pagan and Wiccan couples are seeing that there is indeed an alternative for non-Christians who want more than just a courthouse wedding. A common question among Pagans is that of who can actually perform the handfasting ceremony itself? There are several options for a legally binding wedding celebrant, including a Justice of the Peace or a Unitarian minister.

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Wigington, Patti. "All About Handfastings and Pagan Weddings." Learn Religions, Mar. 4, 2021, Wigington, Patti. (2021, March 4). All About Handfastings and Pagan Weddings. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "All About Handfastings and Pagan Weddings." Learn Religions. (accessed June 2, 2023).