Your Shopping Cart

It appears that your cart is currently empty!


Handfast for a year and a day

Handfasting is becoming more and more popular at Scottish wedding ceremonies. The ancient ritual of Celtic handfasting would have been seen as a sort of pre-marriage or trial run before both parties committed to the sanctity of marriage. The handfasting ceremony would validify the couple's commitment to each other for a year and one day, after which they would then decide if they want to continue the relationship and get married or go their own ways. The handfasting ceremony would also be seen as a public declaration that both parties were officially ‘off the market’ and rival suitors should back off.

What is a handfasting ceremony?

Handfasting is where the term ‘tying the knot’ comes from. In modern ceremonies, two tartan ribbons are used and will usually represent each side of the family. The officiant will ask the groom and bride to each hold an end of a ribbon and will ask the groom to place his hands on top of the bride’s. The officiant will then start to wrap the ribbons around the couple's hands while telling the congregation about the symbolic importance of the ritual. Towards the end of the speech, the officiant will place the remaining ends of the ribbon in the couple’s empty hands. The couple is then be asked to take a step back and in doing, the tartan ribbons slowly stretch out and end up knotted together. The handfasting ceremony usually precedes the exchanging of the rings and is a great way to add a touch of Scottishness to the wedding.

Handfasting Ceremony

What material to use for a handfasting?

When it comes to Scottish ceremonies, your best option is to use a tartan handfasting ribbon. Historically any two pieces of material could be used but using tartan for your ribbons allows you to add to the symbolism of the ceremony. If both the bride and groom have Scottish heritage, then using both family clan tartans is a really nice way to symbolise the joining of two families. If only one or neither has Scottish heritage or Clan connection, then universal or district tartans are another great choice. At MacGregor and MacDuff you can choose from any of our 4,000 tartans to be made into your handfasting ribbons and this includes our exclusive Mist range. Another popular choice for choosing a tartan for your handfasting ribbons is to get one in the same tartan as the groom's kilt and one to match the colour of the bridesmaid's dresses. This is a great idea as it’s symbolic of both the bride and groom and it looks great in the wedding photos.

Handfasting Ribbon

Handfasting ceremony at a wedding?

At MacGregor and MacDuff we are passionate about making dream weddings come true. We have an expert team of wedding coordinators who make sure that everything from planning to delivery goes smoothly and without stress. Whether it be needing help with kilt outfit choices or arranging kilt hires for the groomsmen, our wedding party service is second to none. We’d love to be part of your big day and take some of the stress off you so make sure to get in touch to find out how we can make your dream wedding a reality. 

If you have any questions about tartan handfasting or would like to enquire about our wedding party service, email us at

Scottish Handfasting Ceremony