17 Mar

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Walk beside me and be my friend.”


4_leaf_clover1Ireland has a rich history of Irish wedding traditions. The Irish culture is known for its many superstitions. Irish weddings are no exception. If you are Irish, consider adding some of these Irish customs to your wedding celebration.


The Irish believe that the luckiest day to get married is today, St. Patrick’s Day. Marrying on a Saturday is considered unlucky. According to Irish wedding traditions, other lucky wedding days are in November on a Wednesday or on the last day of the year. Even if you aren’t Irish, or aren’t planning a St. Patrick’s Day wedding, try incorporating some of the tradition into your day.


The Irish Claddagh Ring

An Irish bride’s wedding ring is called a Claddagh ring. It is a heart held by two hands with the heart topped by a crown. The hands represent faith, the crown symbolizes honor, and the heart signifies love. The ring’s motto is: “Let love and friendship reign.”  If a woman wears a Claddagh Ring on her right hand with the heart facing outward toward the end of her finger she is signifying that she is a single woman, free to see whomever she desires. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing inward, toward the woman’s knuckle, then she is signifying that she is engaged.  And finally, if a Claddagh Ring is worn on the left hand it means that the woman is married.


Horseshoe for Luck

Irish brides carry a horseshoe for luck. Modern Irish brides use porcelain horseshoes or tie a fabric version on their wrists. Make sure the horseshoe is turned up so that the luck doesn’t run out. Alternatives are to have the flower girl or ring bearer carry the lucky horseshoe or to decorate the wedding cake with horseshoes. A popular Irish wedding tradition is to give horseshoes as wedding gifts. After the wedding, be sure to hang the horseshoe turned up over your front door for continued good luck. Check out my post on the Wedding Horseshoe Tradition.


Irish Lace
Bridal fashions in Ireland are similar to those in the rest of the Western world, but one distinctly Irish touch is Irish lace. You can incorporate this beautiful fabric into a gown or veil, or if that’s too expensive, consider carrying a lace handkerchief in your bridal bag or hand them out as attendant gifts. Need a color scheme? Follow Irish heritage, of course, and go for green, white, and orange.


The Wedding Bells
Bells are traditionally given as Irish wedding gifts to the wedding couple, according to an Irish wedding tradition. When the couple rings the bells, it is supposed to remind the couple of the marital vows they took. The wedding bells are to be used when the couple is arguing.


Bagpipes and Kilts
It wouldn’t be an Irish wedding without a piper. Hire someone who plays uilleann pipes, the Irish version of Scottish bagpipes. Popular tunes are “The Irish Wedding Song” and “Be Thou My Vision,” as well as jigs, reels, and hornpipes. The attire must match the music, of course — most pipers wear Celtic kilts, a tradition that hails from medieval times.


An Irish Feast
The traditional Irish-American menu — Irish soda bread, corned beef, and cabbage — may not be high on your list of catering must-haves, but when cooked right, it’s delicious (not to mention that practically everything tastes better with a glass of whiskey or stout). And don’t forget the traditional Irish wedding cake, a fruitcake filled with almonds, raisins, cherries, and spice and laced with whiskey.


Other Wedding Day Traditions:
An old Irish tradition calls for the wedding couple to walk to the church together before exchanging their wedding vows. As they walk down the main street to the chapel, onlookers would not only throw rice to bless the marriage, but larger items as well, such as pots and pans.

The traditional Irish bride often wears a blue wedding dress, rather than a white dress. This is because blue symbolized purity in ancient times. It wasn’t until the year 1499 that a white wedding dress began to symbolize virginity and purity.

English lavender, an ancient symbol of love, loyalty, devotion and even luck is often mixed with the bride’s wedding flowers to help insure a happy and long-lasting union

Another tradition is for the bride to braid her hair for her wedding day. Braided hair is an ancient symbol of feminine power and luck. Another symbol of luck is to be married on St. Patrick’s Day, considered the luckiest wedding anniversary date in Ireland.


An Irish Honeymoon

The Irish translation for “honeymoon” is mi na meala, which means “the month of honey.” It was an Irish custom for the newlyweds to spend a month together drinking honeyed wine, secluded, in case their families tried to separate them. This was especially true if the couple had eloped. The belief was that after a month had passed the bride would become pregnant and her family would then desire her to remain with her new husband. Even today many couples mix ancient beliefs with modern customs to create wedding traditions which pay homage to the past while at the same time keeping pace with the present.


Planning a St. Patty’s Day Wedding? Get Ideas!  



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