Irish Wedding Traditions
March 17, 2015
In honor of this glorious green holiday, also known as St. Patrick’s Day, I would like to bring light to a few old Irish wedding traditions that still have meaning today. Although many couples today are unaware of their culture’s traditions, the meanings behind each item below are truly beautiful and worth using for your special day.
Tying the Knot
Photo: Larissa Cleveland
‘Tying the knot’ is a popular term used today for getting married, but was originally derived from ‘handfasting’, an ancient Roman and Celtic wedding tradition. Handfasting involves tying the bride and groom’s hands together with ribbon or rope to signify coming together and staying together. This tradition was even incorporated into Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding. Photo: BBC
The COLOR of Wedding Dress
The color of the wedding dress plays an important part in Irish tradition and leads to many superstitions (see below). Traditional bridal gowns were never white, but mostly blue. They symbolized purity and virginity, in the way that white gowns do today.
Marry in white everything’s right
Marry in blue lover be true
Marry in pink spirit’s will sink
Marry in gray live far away
Marry in brown live out of town
Marry in green ashamed to be seen
Marry in yellow ashamed of your fellow
Marry in black wish you were back
Marry in red wish you were dead
Marry in tan he’ll be a loved man
Marry in pearl you’ll live in a whirl
The Claddagh Ring
Traditionally the ring could be a Claddagh Ring which is of two hands holding a crowned heart. The ring is typically handed down through generations by a family member or given as a gift by a young Irish man to his girlfriend. It is important to wear the ring properly, if engaged or married the tips of the crown should face outwards whereas the crowns should face inwards to indicate if a lady is not romantically involved and still ‘approachable’.
Photo: Woman’s Day
Ringing of bells, in Irish folklore, is believed to ward off malicious spirits and is the origin of ringing church bells at the end of a ceremony. Many times small bells would be given to wedding guests to partake in the ringing of the bells after a ceremony. Not sure I would trust my friends and family with those though! It would be a circus.
There are many Irish toasts and sayings to congratulate and bless the bride and groom. I love this one below.
May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two
May the sun always shine on your windowpane
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near you
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!