Handfasting at one time was the only way that couples could be engaged and/or get married because the church let the civil government of the period take care of these matters
In the British Isles, Handfasting was the old pagan ritual of marriage and it remained legal in Scotland all the way up to 1939, even after Lord Harwickes Act of 1753 declaring that marriages in England were legal only if performed by a clergyman.
After Lord Hardwicke's Act, the Scottish border town, Gretna Green became a mecca for eloping couples from England who fled there to perform their own Handfastings. In those times, the couple themselves performed the Handfasting before witnesses.
It was also used in Scotland for the engagement period of a year and a day before a wedding was proved.
A true handfasting is a promised commitment for a year and a day, and I feel is a beautiful way to celebrate a love between two people.... why does love need to be recognized by a legal status ?
Handfasting is a ritual that joins two people in a relationship, and is about a promise to each other, rather than about a contract.
Love between two people is sacred, to be honoured and respected.
Being joined to another should bring about a sharing of two lives...not completing of one.
It should mean that the individual is still free to grow, now with the acceptance and support of another, both loving one another with an open heart and an open mind, and honouring the others path.
If we find somebody who not only loves us, but also supports us on our path and encourages our growth, then we are fortunate indeed.
And if we in return want to do the same for them, then it feels right to honour that special bond, and show appreciation for what we share. - Suzy James.
Video of handfastings