Weddings are all about love, joy and happiness, but they are also an ideal opportunity to incorporate old customs into modern-day celebrations. Couples who come from Ireland or have links to this wonderful country, but even those people who simply love Irish culture can pay tribute to the Irish traditions of the past in a very special way on their big day. Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you!
The Claddagh Ring – One of the most popular wedding traditions in Ireland is the claddagh ring, named after a fishing village in Western Ireland. This is more than a piece of jewelry; it’s handed down from grandma to granddaughter or mom to daughter. The claddagh ring represents loyalty, friendship and love. Single ladies wear the ring on their right hand, while those engaged or married wear it on their left hand. When engaged, a lady wears the claddagh ring with the point of heart facing the fingertips. At the wedding, this ring is flipped around. If you’ve already bought an engagement ring, you can use the claddagh in your wedding invitations and favors.
Handfasting – Tying the knot is not only the phrase for those with Celtic heritage. In this ancient tradition, the couple is literally tied together and this custom symbolizes the joining of husband and wife. The hand fastening ceremony can be easily incorporated into modern events because you can choose the color of the cords or ribbons to match your wedding color and theme.
Irish Lace – Irish lace is something particularly associated with bridal fashions in Ireland. If it’s too expensive for you to incorporate this mesmerizing fabric into your wedding dress or veil, carry a lace handkerchief or lace gloves.
Horseshoe for Good Luck – One of the most popular wedding superstitions in Ireland is the one associated with a horseshoe; it’s believed to bring the bride good fortune in her marriage. Although a real horseshoe wouldn’t really match an elegant wedding outfit, you can give this ancient custom a modern makeover. Tie a small horseshoe charm into your wedding bouquet or wear a horseshoe necklace. Whatever you do, don’t forget to keep the horseshoe upright, resembling a letter U for the luck that never runs out.
Wedding Look – Although green is the color of Ireland, blue brings good luck to the bride for her nuptials. A braid is an ancient Irish symbol of luck and power, so you could incorporate a braid in your hair too. For more ideas and tips on looking your best on your big day, check out this comprehensive bridal beauty article for Irish brides. When it comes to Irish grooms, many like wearing kilts on their wedding day (no, they are not reserved for Scots!).
Mi na Meala – In Gaelic, this means the month of honey or honeymoon. The couples used to spend a month after their wedding alone together drinking a honey wine called mead. It is said to boost fertility and virility and to ensure a happy beginning for newlyweds. Consider spending your honeymoon in a traditional Irish castle, celebrating your love and drinking mead!
Wedding Music – Did you know that the harp was the Irish national emblem until the end of the 19th century? Hire a harpist to play traditional Irish tunes before the wedding ceremony. During the cocktail hour or when you exit ceremony, hire uilleann pipers wearing kilts to add authentic Irish touch to your wedding entertainment.
Food and Drink – If you don’t want your wedding menu to be traditionally Irish, think about adding a corned beef station, but you can ditch cabbage, soda bread and potato soup. However, make sure the bar is stocked with plenty of Jameson, Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Sláinte! The traditional wedding cake in Ireland is a hearty fruitcake made with honey, spice, cherries, raisins and almonds and it’s soaked in an Irish whiskey, bourbon or brandy. For good luck and additional Irish look, top the cake with four-leaf clovers and/or shamrocks.