Rev. Anna Coote is a registered Legal Celebrant and Solomniser. She is a fully trained and ordained Priest with the FOI (Fellowship of Isis) and Clergy member with Pagan Life Rites (PLR). Please click HERE for more info. on Anna as a Clergy member.
Anna helps to provide intimate and personally written ceremonies for YOUR very special day, working with you to make it a day you and your family/friends will always remember!
Your ceremony, your choice, your way!
She offers a range of services to the Pagan and Spiritual community of Ireland regardless of race, sexual orientation, religious practice or gender.
Many ceremonies are held outside in beautiful, natural settings of your choosing- such as forests, lake sides, sacred sites and mountain tops- or indoors in settings such as barn rooms, marquees and hotel function rooms.
The services Anna can offer include:
Legally registered wedding/marriage ceremonies which can include hand-fastings
Non legally binding hand-fasting ceremonies
Naming or baby/child welcoming celebrations. (alternative to Baptism or Christening)
Greening ceremonies (alternative to 1st Communion).
Coming of Age or Puberty rituals for boys or girls (alternative to Confirmation).
Renewals of marriage vows or marriage blessings.
Separation or divorce ceremonies.
Maturing or menaupausal ceremonies (also known as Croning for women).
End of Life or Funeral rituals.
Hospital Chaplaincy services
Other rituals and ceremonies on request.
HANDFASTING- A CELTIC TRADITION FOR YOUR IRISH WEDDING!
What is a Handfasting ceremony?
Handfastings are beautiful and magical rites of passage, family and love- they have become the most commonly used commitment ceremony in nature-based religions such as Paganism, but are open to anyone with a spiritual outlook.
A modern handfasting is a new take on an old tradition or custom, dating back to 7,000 BC the time of the Celts and before. A handfasting was originally more like an engagement period, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year and a day.
As Celtic culture spread from Ireland and Scotland through Britain and into Western Europe, so did their customs of marriage. Handfasting became a staple of culture where all Celtic people resided, right up to and beyond the introduction of Christianity.
When Christian marriage ritual began to take over, some elements of the of the Celtic customs remained, including handfasting. More often than not, the handfasting was incorporated into the marriage ceremony itself, and remained as such for many years.
Especially in settlements and villages outside of larger city-centers where monasteries and cathedrals were fewer and farther between and Christian weddings were expensive and mainly reserved for the very wealthy and aristocracy. Irish people exclusively used the handfast as de-facto marriage ceremony
It was like a trial marriage. It gave the couple the chance to see if they could survive being bound to each other. After a year went by, the couple could either split as if they had never been married (if there were no children) or could decide to enter permanently into a marriage union.
Today, many people have embraced handfasting as a part of their traditional or alternative wedding ceremony. A handfasting is a binding commitment for “as long as love shall last”. It is an intimate ceremony that is tailor-made to suit the couple and often takes place outdoors in a beautiful, natural setting.
The Handfasting ceremony is steeped in our ancient historical traditions and was the most common form of betrothal and marriage under Brehon Laws. Often these marriages would take place at large festivals such as Bealtaine, The Tailteann games in Meath or at places like the Hill of Tara, at sacred wells or the many sacred sites around the land.
The Handfasting Ceremony
Today, Ireland’s marriage ceremonies have a required civil element (legal), which all couples must abide by, and then a spiritual element if the couple so chooses to incorporate.
There are many variations of the traditional handfasting and many possible components to it. After the couple both declare their freedom from bonds to another and intent to enter into this union freely, the hands of the couple are clasped and fastened together with a cord or cords just before, just after, or during their vows are made to one another.
The wrapping of the cord forms an infinity symbol. The handfasting knot that is tied is a symbolic representation of oneness between the couple. In a show of unity, they become bound to each other.
The ceremony has a few variations, you can use one cord and have the hands wrapped by your celebrant or you can choose a variety of colours and have a selection of your guests lay them over the hands. Each colour represents a gift or blessing bestowed upon the marriage. This is a really lovely way to include family and friends in the ceremony.
Is it a legal marriage?
The handfasting ritual can be incorporated into any legal wedding ceremony, just as the ring exchange, vows etc can. Whether or not a couple chooses to have a handfasting does not make or break the legality of the marriage. Rather, the couple must choose a legal Solemniser to ensure that their marriage is recognised by the state if they do so choose. Some couples don’t bother with making it legal, preferring just the ceremonial and spiritual aspect and some prefer to have a legal Solemniser conduct the ceremony to ensure it in legal and recognised! Anyone can become handfasted if that is their intent to do so.
HANDFASTING CEREMONY FAQs
Do I have to be Pagan to have a handfasting ceremony?
You do not, most people who have this type of ceremony have more of a Spiritual outlook on life, I have also conducted ceremonies for Catholics, other Christians, Atheists, Celtic Christians and other religions who do not wish to have a wedding in a Church but are looking for something a bit more meaningful than a Registry Office. We treat everyone the same regardless of their Religious practice or lack of!
Who writes the ceremony and what does it entail?
I have a number of templates of ceremonies that can be expanded on or subtracted from; the ceremony is written by the Celebrant (me) with 100% input from the couple (you) to ensure that your day is as intimate and memorable as possible! Once it includes freedom of intent and lack of impediment then anything else is up to you!
How much does it cost?
The basic cost will be discussed with you prior to booking and it includes all expenses, travel expenses, meetings, ceremony writing changes, print-outs, certificate of handfasting and cups of tea/coffee as necessary to make it 100% as you wish it to be!
All conversations with regards to finances etc are treated with the upmost privacy and sensitivity. A non-refundable deposit is required on booking with the balance to be paid on the day of the ceremony or before.
What do we need to supply for the ceremony?
The answer to that very much depends on YOUR requirements for the ceremony! Generally the cord or ribbon of your choice is the only real necessity for a handfasting. Other items which might be needed will be discussed beforehand and I can supply much of the necessary items myself.
What should the cord look like?
Traditionally it was made of rope or dyed cloth, embroidered if the skill and money afforded it. Today it can be anything from silky ribbons, thick or thin chords, fabric taken from heirloom dresses, or basically anything that could be theoretically tied around two hands. The resulting product is usually around a meter in length, allowing for it to be wrapped about the hands a couple of times to mimic the Celtic knot type pattern (Celtic knots in artwork symbolize unity and everlasting). But as a couple you can choose virtually anything to work.
Here are some ideas:
- If your wedding has a specific colour theme, you can incorporate it into your hand-fasting chord. Plain silk ribbons from a fabric store work perfectly for this.
- If you have children it is a nice idea to get them involved and let them help out!
- Add a charm to make it special! There are little charms used for jewellery; if there is a special symbol that is meaningful for you as a couple, think about adding that charm to the ends of the chord or ribbons. Not only will it give it a personal meaning, but it will have visual appeal and texture. If you can’t think of anything, add a lucky horseshoe (a traditional Irish symbol of luck for a wedding day)!
- Something old, something blue. If you’re looking for your “something blue” then think about adding a blue ribbon here! If there is a family heirloom — dress, veil, article of clothing — where a piece can be taken out, consider using that as part of your chord.
- Use natural elements. Some couples will collect items from vacations special occasions during the relationship. Seashells, beads, paper or tissue cranes….virtually anything can be crafted into your hand-fasting chord that can tell a story about your relationship.
- Have your guests help. For a smaller, intimate wedding, consider handing out ribbons to each of your guests. When the time comes, invite them to each walk up and hand your celebrant their piece of ribbon, each contributing a piece of your hand-fasting chord.
- Florals and nature! Doesn’t have to be ribbons and chords! For a stunning look that is organic and also deeply symbolic, think about having natural garland, vines, flowers woven together to serve as your hand-fasting chord.
There is no set rule as to how many ribbons or chords can be used in this. For logistical purposes, you might not want to use something terribly heavy or some kind of scratchy material that will irritate the skin. But any amount will work. Some couples prefer for the ribbons to be symbolic; they will have one ribbon represent each of their children for example. Other couples will conceptualize their wishes for each other in their marriage; each ribbon is symbolic for that particular wish. Many, though, settle on the number 3 or 9 as they were numbers that were very symbolic for the Celtic Peoples.
The cord is removed, after the actual handfasting takes place, with the knot still in tact and is then preserved like this as a lovely keepsake of your special day.
Where can a handfasting take place?
‘The venue for a religious marriage is a matter for the authorities of the church or religious body under whose auspices the marriage is being performed.’
We encourage hand-fastings to take place in outdoor settings of your own choice wherever possible. However, the venue must be accessable to the public for it to be legally binding and if possible have an eircode.
‘All marriages, civil or religious, must take place at venues which are open to the public.’
Many couples choose a site which is known for its beauty or privacy, or it may be a Sacred Site (with permission from the land-owner or local authority if necessary) or somewhere attached to where they will have their ‘after-celebration’ or maybe even somewhere that is important to themselves.
Is it legally binding?
Many couples do not wish to have a legal aspect to their joining and many do! If you choose a Celebrant who has legal Solemniser status within the state of Ireland then yes you can also have the legal aspect to your ceremony (as long as all the other legal conditions are met) which your Celebrant will also help you with. –https://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Getting_Married.
You may already be married privately and wish to have the handfasting as your celebration ceremony or you might just wish to go the the Registry Office on your own time at a later or earlier date to ‘make it official’, this will cost you €200.
Can handfasting ceremonies be conducted for same-sex couples / families?
Yes, absolutely! Some of the Pagan Life Rites clergy identify as LGBT, and all of us are supportive of same-sex relationships and advocates for equality.
What other services or ceremonies are available?
Anna also conducts Blessing Ceremonies for couples that have already ‘tied the knot’, Vow Renewals, Baby Naming and Welcoming Ceremonies (an alternative to Baptism), Greening Ceremonies (an alternative to Communion), Coming of Age or Puberty Rites (an alternative to Confirmation), Funeral Services, Separation or Divorce Ceremonies and Hospital Chaplaincy Services.
If you have any other questions or queries that are not covered here or for any other reason, please don’t hesitate to contact Anna:
WhatsApp message: 00353 859371879