13 Steps To Planning A Traditional Irish Wedding

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When it comes to traditions, customs and superstitions, the Irish certainly have their fair share and traditional Irish weddings are no exception. From tying the knot – quite literally – to putting a sixpence in your shoe for luck, there’s a complete treasure trove of customs and traditions you could incorporate into your own traditional Irish wedding.

Here are some traditions that you might want to consider in order to plan your quintessentially Irish wedding.

irish wedding

1. The Venue

What could be more romantic than a castle or, for something rustic, a beautifully decorated barn? There are plenty of local venues available for hire that would fit the bill.

2. Pick A Date

Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day…Depending on how strictly you want to adhere to tradition, certain months were considered more favourable than others. Tying the knot during harvest time or the New Year was considered the most favourable time to wed.

3. The Bridal Gown

For a truly Irish gown it has to be lace, or for at least part of the dress if you would prefer something like silk. Irish brides also traditionally wore blue – considered to be a sign of purity – but if blue isn’t your colour then incorporating some subtle detail on the dress or including blue in your accessories would still allow you to pay homage to tradition. But don’t disregard green – it’s not only virtually synonymous with the emerald isle but also a potentially stunning choice for a bridal gown.

4. Consider Braids

Being a symbol of feminine power and luck, Irish brides traditionally wore their hair braided with pretty ribbon or lace woven through it.

5. Tying The Knot or ‘Handfasting’

A symbol of unity dating back to the Middle Ages, the couple had their hands tied together with ribbon or cord. Although it took place during the ‘engagement’ period it’s now commonplace to have it take place just before, or during, the ceremony.

6. The Rings

The gold Claddagh ring with two hands holding a crowned heart is still a choice for Irish coupes, although some now replace the gold heart with an emerald.

7. Horse and Carriage

A traditional horse and carriage is surely a must, or even a pony and trap, for getting to the church just a little bit fashionably late!

8. A Traditional Toast

Swap the champagne for a glass of mead – a mixture of white wine, honey and herbs – but be warned! During Anglo-Saxon times it was believed to enhance fertility…

9. Lucky Symbols

A horseshoe or tiny bell hanging from your bouquet, a prettily embroidered hankie wrapped around the stems, or a sixpence in your shoe, all were traditionally considered lucky symbols. Incorporating some of these into you day will keep you true to tradition and enhance even the smallest details of your wedding day.

10. Flowers and Garlands

Depending on the season you might want to use locally grown wild flowers for the bouquet and table arrangements, or even swap the veil for a pretty garland – lavender and bells of Ireland were popular choices – around your head for a real Irish maiden look.

11. Entertainment

From the magical notes of a harp as you walk down the aisle, the sound bagpipes as you leave, or a traditional Irish folk band for the reception – a surefire way to get your guests dancing a jigging and singing along – no wedding would be complete without these essentially Irish traditions.

12. Throwing The Shoe

Forget the bouquet, in ancient times an old shoe was tossed over the head of the Bride for luck. Just be careful!

13. The Cake

Traditional Irish cakes had at least two tiers, with the smaller tier soaked in good Irish whiskey. Another option would be to have layers of green sponge, instead. For decoration you could use anything from shamrocks to faeries, or even a few fun leprechauns.

By Linda Browne, Excalibur Press