Many Wiccan and Pagan couples choose to have a handfasting ceremony instead of a traditional wedding. There are a number of reasons for this
-- for starters, even though some states still do not recognize
same-sex relationships, Pagan clergy often are willing to perform a handfasting ceremony for gay or lesbian
couples. Also, if a couple (whether hetero- or homosexual) has decided
they do not want or need the government's blessing to be together, they
may opt for a handfasting instead.
In some Wiccan traditions a couple will be handfast for a year and a
day, and then choose whether to continue together as a couple or
dissolve the relationship.
While many Pagan clergy members are in fact licensed to perform a
marriage with the state of their residence, not all handfasting
ceremonies include a legal marriage certificate. A handfasting may be
performed by anyone -- although typically it's done by someone who has
some status within the group, such as a High Priest or High Priestess --
but a marriage may only be performed by a licensed individual.
June is a popular month for handfasting (and weddings in general). No
matter what time of year your happy couple is being handfast, you can
make this simple gift basket easily with items you can find in just
about any craft store.
PREPARE YOUR BASKET
You can make a handfasting basket as elaborate or as simple as you
like. The easiest way to do it is to buy a commerically made basket,
which you can usually find at thrift stores, and cover it in fabric.
Choose something with romantic summer colors -- yellow, reds, flowers,
etc. Fabric can be found inexpensively at
most discount stores or at craft supply shops.
Place the basket on a flat surface, and use the fabric to line the
inside. Use a piece of fabric large enough that you'll have some
overhang. For stability, you may wish to hot glue the underside of the
fabric around the rim of the basket.
Next, cut a piece of ribbon about three times the length of the basket's
handle. Tie it in place at one end of the handle, and wrap it around
until you reach the opposite side. Trim off any excess. If you're really
crafty, use two different ribbons. Add a small dab of glue to the
underside of the ribbon periodically, to keep it from slipping down the
Finally, add some small silk flowers to the handle of the basket. You
can find these in the wedding aisle at nearly any craft store. If the
flowers don't have wires built into them, use some thin florist's wire
to anchor the flowers in place.
Here's the really fun part. Think about the couple who is being
handfast. Are they traditionalists? Are they silly, and willing to laugh
at themselves? Consider what you know about them.
To fill the baskets, you'll need a variety of things, each symbolizing
some aspect of the relationship. Try to find thirteen items that are
meaningful to the couple. Small ornaments are perfect for this, so they
can be hung up later, but use your imagaination to find the symbols that
are right for your couple. Use the following list to help get you
- A sun, symbolizing the strength and sturdiness of the male partner
- A moon, representing the woman, beautiful and mysterious*
- A cat, to guard the hearth and home
- A dog, to offer loyalty and protection
- An owl, for wisdom
- A star, for the dreams of the future
- A clock, to remind them that time is valuable
- An acorn, for strength and longevity
- A butterfly, for all the summers they will be together
- A car, for the journey they're about to embark on
- A house, so they have a place to return
- A pinecone, for prosperity and abundance
- A heart, for the love that brought them together
* In the case of a same-sex couple, it would be appropriate to use two moons or two suns.
Make sure that while you're creating and filling your handfasting
basket, that you're sending positive thoughts into it. If you like, turn
this into a small ritual. You can charge the basket by focusing your
intent into a simple couplet if you choose, such as:
This basket of gifts I give from the heart
with blessings for [name] and [name]'s handfasting.
With these treasures I offer you joy, and hope,
and happiness and love everlasting. Include a note explaining to them what each item represents, so that
they will always have these thirteen blessings with them in their