I returned to Canada from Scotland in 2002 after having participated in handfasting ceremonies - a wedding ceremony that is said to date to the Pictish and Viking times.
The ceremony involves the couple's clasped hands being lightly bound with cords or ribbon, literally ‘tying the knot" with an expectation that they renew their commitment every year.
Couples are attracted to this ceremony because it emphasizes that stages within a relationship are not always easy. For example, a ceremony will read: “Will you cause Lisa anger” and the response is, “I will”. Guests are often surprised by this, but in a good way. The ceremony follows with the question, ‘Will this be your intent’, and of course the answer is ‘No’. It is said to be a very ‘real’ approach to a marriage commitment.
This photo is from a ceremony I conducted in 2006 in Canmore, Alberta. (Check out blog for more information such as Where to get the Handfasting Cord).