Justin Griffin wrote:14 May 1999
Handfasting is basically an old pagan custom. On Bealtainne, the couples that wished to be married were gathered together before the fire. The local Druid(s) would then perform the ritual of handfasting. It's actually a pretty simple ritual. The left (I think, its been a while) hands of the couple are clasped and bound together with a cord(usually green). They exchange something similar to wedding vows. At the end of this, they are considered married
according to law. The handfasting is a trial marriage. It gives the couple the chance to see if they can survive marriage to each other. The handfasting usually lasted either a year and a day or until the next Bealtainne(it varied). At this time, the couple could either split as if they had never been married or could enter permanently
into marriage. Handfasting was considered less serious than marriage, and thus easier to break off, because no actual vows were exchanged until the actual marriage. As we all know, vows are very important to the Celts.