Published: March 25, 2020 | Updated: March 25, 2020

Disappointed couples offered a helping hand by celebrant in return for NHS charity donation

Sacred celebrant Ellie Brooks performing an actual handfasting but who is now offering an online alternative to couples forced to postpone their weddings. Picture: Lotus Photography.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

An award-winning celebrant is offering couples forced to postpone their wedding because of the coronavirus crisis a special alternative while they wait for their new date.

Ellie Brooks, Founder of Wildflower Ceremonies in Corfe Mullen, is providing online mini-handfasting blessings in exchange for a suggested £15 donation to NHS Charities Together.

The blessings take up to 20 minutes and see couples pledge their continuing commitment to one another in the face of adversity, from the safety of their own homes.

The term ‘handfasting’ is believed to be derived from the Old Norse term ‘handfesta’, meaning ‘to strike a bargain by joining hands’.

The ritual has become increasingly popular in recent years owing to films such as Braveheart and TV programmes such as Outlander.

The latest series of the romantic period drama sees two key characters, Roger and Brianna, perform their own private handfasting, proclaiming themselves united as a couple until their official marriage can take place.

The mini-ceremony complements ancient traditions perfectly, as, in ages past, couples living in rural areas might not be visited by an official minister for several months.

It is said couples were able to formalise their union by way of  handfasting until an official marriage could take place.

Ellie said that while it was possible to have a full handfasting ceremony in a beautiful alternative wedding ceremony, her online alternative gave couples the opportunity to ‘tie the knot’ of commitment in a mini-ceremony.

She said: “My heart goes out to all those couples who have had to postpone their special days.

“It’s heartbreaking to imagine how it might feel to be sitting at home on the day that should have been your wedding day, wondering what you would have been doing if the day had gone ahead.

“By having a virtual mini-handfasting blessing, couples can still honour their original wedding date as a special milestone in their union, especially as they will be pledging their steadfast love and commitment to one another during these troubled times, as well as supporting those working so incredibly hard on the NHS frontline.”

Ellie will be holding the mini blessing ceremonies via Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime and Zoom.

Couples will be encouraged to decorate their living room or garden with flowers and candles to create an atmospheric space.

They will also have the option to join their hands in union with a handfasting cord.

The mini virtual blessings can be held as a private, intimate ceremony for the couple alone, or family members living in the same house, including children, can be involved.

Virtual guests can also be invited to watch through appropriate online platforms.

For those who would prefer a blessing without a handfasting, this will also be possible.

Ellie said: “I serve and create ceremonies for those of all faiths and none, so everyone can be catered for.

“I’d love for couples to be able to see this as a very special milestone in their onwards journey towards their marriage, just like our ancestors of old.”

More details can be found at

NHS Charities Together represents, supports and champions the work of the NHS’ official charities.

Donations to the organisation’s ‘COVID-19 Urgent Appeal’ will fund wellbeing packs, travel and accommodation costs and other items that enhance the wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients.