17 Irish Wedding Customs and Traditions

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There are many wedding traditions around the world. These traditions vary from culture to culture, nation to nation. Incorporating traditions or customs into your wedding, add meaning and history to your special day. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we're sharing some of our favorite Irish wedding traditions.

1. Claddagh Ring:

The Claddagh ring is an old Irish tradition. The Claddagh ring is either passed down from one generation to the next or given by Irish men to their girlfriends. The ring represents love, friendship, and loyalties. Single girls wear the ring on their right hand with point of the heart facing the fingertip. When in a relationship, the ring is flipped to face the wrist, symbolizing that the heart has been captured and the lady is not available. When engaged to be married, the ring is switched to the left hand with the point of the heart facing the fingertip. Lastly, at the wedding the ring is flipped to face the wrist! This is similar to the Armenian tradition of wearing the engagement ring on the right hand and moving it to the left hand at the wedding.

Claddagh ring

Photo Source The Claddagh

2. Lucky Dates:

In ancient times, Irish couples were encouraged not to marry between May and August. Here's their famous saying that went along with this belief...

"Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind, and true.
When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate.

If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man.

Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you'll go.

They who in July do wed, must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see.

Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.

If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember.
When December's rain fall fast, marry and true love will last."

3. Tying the Knot:

We've all heard the phrase "Tie the knot" when couples get married. This phrase comes from an old Irish tradition. During Irish weddings, the hands of the bride and groom are literally tied together with a ribbon symbolizing their union.

Handfasting tradition

Photo Source Style Me Pretty

4. Horseshoe:

Horseshoe symbolizes good luck in many cultures. In Irish tradition, brides carried a horseshoe with them on their wedding day to bring good luck to the occasion and their marriage. Eventually, instead of an actual horseshoe brides started carrying a symbol of the horseshoe. According to the legends, the horseshoe should face up resembling a "U" so that the luck doesn't run out.

Lucky horseshoe

Photo Source Etsy

5. Wildflowers:

Irish brides usually held or wore wild flowers for their bouquet or headpiece. They even wore a wildflower wreath instead of a veil. Some brides also add English lavender to their flowers symbolizing love, loyalty, devotion, and luck.

6. Hair: 

Many Irish brides braided their hair on their wedding day. Braids are an ancient symbol of feminine power and luck.

Irish Bridal Hair

Photo Source Pinterest

7. Wedding Dress:

Although green is the color most associated with Ireland, Irish brides wore blue! Interestingly, traditional bridal gowns were blue not white. White wedding gowns became popular with the British monarchs and have continued since.

8. Irish Lace:

Irish lace is another traditional element. Many brides incorporated Irish lace into their wedding dress or veil.

9. Kilts:

The traditional outfit for Irish grooms was the Irish kilt – a plaid skirt.

Irish Kilt

Photo Source The Wedding Hire Company

10. Music:

Bagpipers were the most popular wedding ceremony and reception music. The bride and groom were often piped throughout the wedding. The harp is another traditional Irish instrument that is incorporated in many weddings.

Bagpiper leading bride and groom

Photo Source Style Me Pretty

Harp Instrument at Irish Wedding

Photo Source Fly Away Bride

11. Bells:

Bells are a traditional wedding gift for many Irish couples. This is an old superstition that said the sound of bells keep away the evil spirits. During the wedding ceremony, couples ring a bell together or provide their guests with bells to ring.

Wedding Bells

Photo Source Pinterest

12. Irish Cake:

The traditional Irish cake is a fruitcake filled with almonds, raisins, cherries and spice and soaked in whiskey.

Irish Wedding Cake

Photo Source Bridal Musings

13. Superstitions:

The Irish believed if the sun shone on the bride, it would bring good luck to the couple. Also, it was important for a man and not a woman to be the first to wish the bride joy after the ceremony.

14. Grushie:

"Grushie" is another old Irish tradition of the groom tossing a handful of coins to the wedding guests symbolizing good luck. This is similar to the old Armenian tradition of tossing coins at the bride and groom.

15. Honeymoon:

According to Irish tradition, after the wedding, the bride and groom were supplied with mead, a brew made of fermented honey, for them to share the unique brew for one full moon. In Irish this is referred to as the month of honey, "mi na meala".

16. Shamrock:

A shamrock is a young sprig of clover which has become a symbol of Ireland. According to legends, St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This symbol is used throughout Irish weddings for good luck.

Wedding Charm Bracelet

Photo Source Etsy

17. Irish Blessings

There are many old and beautiful Irish blessings and toasts recited at weddings. Here is one example from A Celtic Wedding:

"May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.

May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.

May the saddest day of your future

Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.

May your hands be forever clasped in friendship

And your hearts joined forever in love.

Your lives are very special,

God has touched you in many ways.

May his blessings rest upon you

And fill all your coming days."

Many of these Irish traditions continue to be a part of Irish weddings. You can also modify the traditions to fit the modern times. Also, those marrying on St. Patrick's Day may choose to incorporate the color green, shamrock symbols, and other Irish customs. A honeymoon to Ireland is another way to experience the amazing culture and all the beautiful Irish castles!

Tags: green , irish , tradition , wedding day

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