At the end of August 2019, Elliot and I were asked to be the photographers at Rosie and Jez’s Humanist wedding in Battle, East Sussex.

The day began with a lovely ceremony, set alongside Frickley Lake, at the beautiful Burnt Barns Farm wedding venue.  The ceremony took place in a little clearing, among the trees and was led by the Best Man. During the ceremony, the couple chose to use the symbolic gesture of handfasting which is where the expressions ‘Tying the knot’ and ‘Giving one’s hand in marriage’ come from.

 

The ancient art of handfasting

Handfast: To make a contract of marriage between (parties) by joining of hands; to betroth (two persons, or one person to another)Oxford Dictionary.

 

Handfasting has ancient Celtic roots, dating back as far as 7000 B.C. so I was fascinated and delighted to be the photographer for such an occasion.

Originating in ancient Ireland, the tradition entailed the happy couple fasting their hands together with a braided cord, or ribbon, the presence of a druid priest.

It was also once common practice in Scotland to allow a couple to declare their intention to be together. It was a simple formality, somewhat like an engagement or a promise, and the couple would then go on to live together for the following year to decide if they were a good match. At the end of the year, the couple would return to the same priest and announce whether they were to be married or to go their separate ways, free to find another potential partner.

The Infinity Knot or Celtic Knot is a symbol of how everything in life is connected. It’s a form of sacred geometry which stems from the belief that the universe was created by god following a geometric plan. Sacred geometry can be found around the world in nature, art and architecture and represents a continuous cycle of existence found throughout the universe. 

This sacred geometry infuses itself into wedding ceremonies via the knot that is tied during handfasting. The couple give each other their hands, and a ribbon or rope is bound around them. Finally, the ends of the bindings are given to the couple and they pull on it to form the Infinity Knot. This knot has no beginning and no end which symbolises eternal love. The handfast represents the idea that a couple is stronger and greater together than as individuals. 

The essence of this tradition is echoed all over the world with Indian cultures binding the couple’s hands with gold thread and Thai cultures placing white ties around the couple’s wrists to then be worn as bracelets.

With this type of ceremony, couples can choose what they would like the handfasting to represent.  At Rosie & Jez’s wedding, the Best Man led the ceremony and declared to the wedding party that the first ribbon represented the couple’s new commitment to each other and the vows they had made. The second ribbon represented the support and love of everyone present that day. And finally, The Infinity Knot represented the two strands combining, as their love and the support of their family and friends, were joined together.

 

The wedding reception was held in a marquee, with views towards the lake and after the speeches, the guests gathered on the grass for an energetic game of rounders.

The happy couple had stayed in the venue’s boathouse, overlooking Frickley Lake and many guests camped out in the bell tents which were set in the camping gardens.

It was the perfect day for a wedding, despite a brief downpour during the speeches which turned into an amazing sunset to finish off the daytime activities.

The cake cutting was very entertaining as the bride and groom attempted various suggested poses and received plenty of heckling and cheering from their guests!

The evening celebrations took place against a wonderful party backdrop, studded with tiny lights which were reflected around the marquee by a huge disco ball above. The effect was magical and enhanced the party atmosphere even before the sun had set on the day. Everybody joined in with the dancing!

Rosie and Jez’s wedding day was very special, and one Elliot and I won’t forget in a hurry. From the ancient tradition of handfasting to the relaxed and joyful atmosphere of the after-party, it’s safe to say it was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we wish the new couple all the happiness in the world!

If you’d like to speak to me about photographing your special day, please get in touch by clicking here.