Wedding Tradition Breakdown: The Phrase “Tying the Knot”

If you’ve been with your partner for a while, chances are someone has asked you “when are you tying the knot?” We all know they mean to get married, but have you ever wondered where the phrase “tying the knot” comes from? After all, there’s nothing in modern weddings remotely related to knots or rope. The phrase actually comes from a wedding tradition almost as old as time. Our wedding photographers break down everything you need to know about this phrase and the wedding traditions behind it.




The phrase “tying the knot” actually comes from a few different cultures, mainly Celtic and Hindu. Before priests and churches were a thing, in Celtic culture, weddings were called handfasting ceremonies. This practice dates beyond the medieval era and involved the bride and groom tying knots of cloth around their hands to symbolize their union.


In Hindu culture, weddings feature a ceremony called the hastmelap, which is Sanskrit meaning “the joining of hands”. The bride and groom are united by their hands in the presence of Agni Devta. Once their hands are placed over each other, scarves worn by the bride and groom are tied together to signify their unity.




Whether the phrase stems from Celtic, Hindu, or another culture, the meaning is the same. Tying the knot meant literally tying a knot over the couple’s hands as a representation of unity and making two one. Even though no physical knots are tied in modern Western weddings usually, the phrase still accurately describes what a wedding means!




Today, the phrase is far more prevalent than the practice. Hindu weddings still feature the hastmelap, often as part of other ceremonies and handfasting can still be found in some Scottish weddings. However, in general, the practice of binding the couple’s hands isn’t commonly used anymore. The phrase is still a sweet sentiment though!



Are you looking for a photographer or videographer for your Toronto wedding? Contact AGI Studio today! Our team of experienced and award-winning photographers and cinematographers would be honored to capture the union between you and your Significant Other, whether there are knots being tied or not.

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