By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Many cultures have different ways of blessing the hands of the bride and groom.
In Thai ceremonies, for example, the couple kneels as elder, married relatives pour blessed water from a conch shell onto their hands and offer words of blessing. In the ancient Celtic tradition of hand-fasting, the couple’s hands are literally tied together to symbolize spiritual and physical unity as prayers and blessings are recited.
In any tradition, a hand blessing is a ritual that is meant to draw you closer to one another.
I have always heard that the hands are a connection to the heart, and a hand blessing symbolically brings two hearts together. When I officiated the wedding of a physician recently she confirmed that physically there is a connection between the veins in the hands and the heart.
I like to offer couples a non-denominational approach. It can be done at any point in the ceremony yet fits in perfectly right after the exchange of the rings.
Here’s how it works:
You and your beloved face each other. First join your right palms, and then your left palms. This forms an infinity symbol with your hands, which symbolizes a love that will go on forever.
I love to begin with the sentiment that Shakespeare said, “Now join your hands, and with your hand’s your hearts.” (And in Las Vegas, you can probably find Shakespeare to utter that line himself during your ceremony!)
Then I ask the couple to look into one another’s eyes. There are a number of written/spoken blessings that can be used. Here is one that I have modified from a very, very popular hand blessing that seems to be all over the Internet (not attributed to an author, as far as I can tell):
These are the hands of your best friend. They are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief wracks your mind.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
May these hands always reach out with love, tenderness and respect.
May these hands continue to build a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime.
With eyes locked, and hands linked, this ritual is a beautiful symbol of the union of two hearts, two lives, and two souls.
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a bridal stress expert. She is author of "WEDDING GODDESS: A Divine Guide To Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss" (Perigee Books, May 2005). Visit Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway at WeddingGoddess.com.