Jamie Walker Celebrant

Handfastings and ring warmings.

Handfastings, ring warmings and why sand isn’t for me-sorry!

Laid back wedding ceremonies with a fun modern twist are my thing and I love ceremony and symbolic ritual as one element to your overall ceremony but here’s the thing- I have a confession to make, Sand ceremonies just aint for me! There, done. Unless you have actual sand from somewhere that means something to you then I am probably not the Celebrant for you-but I know lots who could be! Having said that I love to make exceptions to the rule for couples dead set on what they want so if it floats your boat and really does have a special meaning then let’s do it!

I love rituals and symbolism though and have put together some of may absolute faves to tickle your appetite! Here is Part 1.

These are generally thought of as Unity Ceremonies or as I like to call them ‘The bit where you get to make something together!’ They are basically symbolic of two elements being combined to make one new thing. Read on and it will become clear. To emphasise this isn’t ‘Two become one’ -End Of- like The Spice Girls sang about. Yes, a new union has been formed but you are still very much your own person! A symbolic element to your ceremony is a lovely touch but really only if you both completely dig it! Not for you? Move on and focus on the bits that are!

First up: Handfasting- ah the lovely handfasting ritual. Participate in this and hark back to ancient celtic times whereby the ribbon or cord that is wrapped around your joined hands represents a binding together symbolizing a union. I like to think there would be some sort of minstrel playing one of those little ukulele type instruments-you know the ones- and the mead would be flowing…but I digress…

Twist it up (excuse the pun!) and bring it bang up to date:

-By choosing coloured or patterned ribbons to represent different values.

-By inviting special guests to each place a ribbon upon your wrists.

-By involving children to place the ribbons. This is fab if you have children and/or are bringing two sets of children together as a family.

-By literally tying the knot with it! An old Irish fisherman’s tradition this one, the lucky pair tie a fisherman’s knot with the ribbon/rope to symbolize a bond that rather than break under pressure becomes stronger. Nice. Careful though-this isn’t a cue for tug of war!

-You don’t have to use ribbons, you can use cord, boating rope, hiking ropes or dare I suggest the intertwining of rival football scarves (dons helmet and ducks!) or if you have some heirloom fabric then that would be lush also.

After the wedding you will have a beautiful reminder of your union-not that you will need it! but it would look fantastic displayed somewhere in your home with a unique story to tell behind it.

Next up Ring Warming- a nice little ritual that suits a more intimate gathering, think no more than 50 guests. The rings are placed into a small bag and passed around each guest during the ceremony. Your guests hold the rings for a moment and might say a special prayer or blessing or just send good vibes before passing it onto the next guest. A ring warming is a lovely way to involve your friends and family but as I say really works well with a modest sized guest list because the rings have to set off at the start of the ceremony and be back for the ring exchange bit and we don’t want it to turn into the hot potato game during the last few minutes, nor do I relish slooowwwwiiiinnnggg down my words as I give the oh so subtle head flick ‘get them back over here! I need them now!’

The really sweet thing about a ring warming though is knowing that your wedding bands have been literally blessed and imbued with all the good vibes each and every guest could muster through their tears of happiness for you. Now that’s a lovely thought.

Twist it up and make it modern:

-Instead of a delicate organza bag I have seen rings tied onto a Batman cushion and passed around!

-Consider placing them inside a box, wood or glass ones are nice. Could it be inscribed?

-Not exchanging rings? How about a watch or a necklace?

-More than 50 guests? No problem have your rings set aside on a table at the entrance for guests to ‘warm’ on their way to their seats. Make sure you prop up a little framed sign explaining what to do or consider popping a note of instruction in with invitations, though Ushers could do make sure guests do this on the day.

-Enlist the assistance of a ring chaperone! One person responsible for the rings during the ceremony who is known to the Celebrant and who is prepped to ensure that the rings arrive in good time for the big moment!

So there you have my ‘Twist it up and Make it Modern!’ tips for Handfastings and Ring Warmings! Watch out for Part 2 next week.

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I adore what I do and it’s always a privilege to write a truly celebratory ceremony, in a way that represents who you are and that creates lifelong memories. Let’s start the conversation.