Local wedding to have traditional twist

By Amy Phelps

Special to the Times

When Lindsey Bush and her fiance, Jeremy Wiggers, heard about handfasting from their officiant, they thought it would add a special element to their wedding.

“We thought it was a neat idea,” Bush, 21, of Gallipolis, said. “It would make our connection feel more bonded.”

Bush and Wiggers’ non-denominational ceremony Saturday aboard the Valley Gem sternwheeler in Marietta will include the traditional rings and vows associated with weddings, but will add the handfasting to the ceremony.

It is not the first handfasting ceremony Arlene Waters of Marietta, who has officiated weddings in West Virginia and Ohio for 10 years, has performed.

“This is my second handfasting and I have another scheduled for the fall,” she said.

In the handfasting, the couple will hold hands and Waters will lay five different ribbons on their hands, one for each promise of faithfulness, love, standing together, honesty and honor the couple will make to each other. Handfasting represents “just as hands are bound together, so are their lives,” Waters said.

After the five promises are spoken and the ribbons tied together, Waters will remind the couple they cannot always be physically together, their hands will be unbound, and the exchange of rings will occur.

Waters believes the handfasting is a new element to the traditional ceremony for those couples wanting something different.

“People get tired of the unity candle and sand ceremony,” she said.

Handfasting has its roots in Celtic tradition. Janet Lockhart, a committee member of the Scottish and Celtic Heritage Society, said the ceremony dates back to the 15th and 16th century Scotland.

In out-of-reach areas where ministers couldn’t travel to wed couples, handfasting ceremonies were held instead, Lockhart said. A couple’s wrists were tied together, vows were exchanged and they were “married.”

If they were together a year and a day after the ceremony, then they were legally married.

“It’s where the term tying the knot comes from,” Lockhart said.