Hand-fasting ceremonies aren’t required to officially seal a marriage, and while the handfasting can take the place of the vow exchange, it doesn’t have to.
A hand-fasting is an old Pagan custom that dates back to the time of the ancient Celts. It originated as more than an act during a wedding ceremony. In fact, the entire handfasting took place over a period of around a year and served as a trial marriage. In other words, if you couldn’t handle each other for 365 days, then you probably needed to check out. On the other hand, if at the end of the year you were still totally blissed out, you would get married. Hand-fasting’s are commonly used in Wiccan and Pagan ceremonies.
Today the hand-fasting is more literal: a couple will bind their hands together during the wedding ceremony (before, during, or after reciting their vows), often to symbolize their connection and devotion to one another. Of course, you don’t have to be Wiccan or Pagan to incorporate the hand-fasting, and plenty of couples use hand-fasting’s in their religious or secular weddings all the time. Sometimes a couple faces one another and bind both pairs of hands, sometimes only right hands are bound, and still others a right hand will be bound to a left.