There is no right or wrong way to make handfasting cords, and they can be as elaborate or simple as you want them to be. It really comes down to what you want to represent yourselves, or what is easiest for you.
The only time the cords are to be dismantled/unknotted is in the case of a hand parting, so please remember that anything you use to decorate your cord is to remain with it for as long as you are bound to each other.
Your cord should be long enough to loop over both wrists as well as being able to make the knots.
We've read that if you are using a single cord, that a generic rule of length is ideally no less than 6 feet.
Again, it's up to you.
Michael and I picked out our ribbons separately, but when we put them together they were matching color palettes. We each chose to use three ribbons for our cords but you can use how many you feel is right for you. We chose to use doubled-sided satin ribbons that were purchased at Michael's. We've seen them made of drapery cording, silk cording, decorative ribbon and even parts of a couple's wedding attire. You can embroider them, print/paint them, etc.
I had some O rings lying about in my tool caddy. (I tend to buy in excess a variety of 'things' when working on costume projects. It saves me from having to run on multiple errands or paying for multiple packages to be shipped. Eventually I find something that will work.)
Michael tied the ends of the ribbons to the O rings, slipped it over a hook and attached it to something stable. For him it was one of my dress forms but for these photos I used my very heavy pair of fabric scissors. He braided the cord to each of our lengths. He also said silent prayers as he plaited. (Again, do whatever makes you comfortable.) When he got to the end of each cord, he tied it off with enough length left to attach the tassels.
We purchased new beads and incorporated a couple that were in our bead box. The copper wire and beads represent Michael's love for building Tesla Coils and other high voltage projects, the Tiger's Eye is for protection and the others have their special purpose.
Make a largish loop at the top and then begin to slide the beads/what-nots until the desired length is reached. We added our charms at the end and looped the wire, and wrapped the end around a few times before cutting. We then attached the tassels to the extra length at each end of the cords.
We chose two sterling charms each for our cords. There are several sites where you can buy the charms (ArtBeads.com, BlueMud.com, FireMountainGems.com). We choose to use Art Beads because they had what we were looking for and it made sense to pay one shipping charge.
Voila! The cords are finished.
I hope this has been helpful for some of you! Fellow Tribe member Kat started a handfasting group on Flickr. You may want to check the porn for inspiration.