Irish Wedding Traditions

ireland destination wedding{Photo: Alison Conklin Photography}

As we near St. Patrick’s Day you might be so inspired to jet set off to Ireland for your destination wedding.  While we love green and good luck infused weddings, Irish events aren’t all about the color or the clover.  So how can you infuse traditional Irish wedding elements into your destination wedding?  The luck of the Irish comes in many forms and we’ve compiled just a few of our favorites you can work into your big day.

Bride’s Hanky:  Not just a tradition of the Irish, many brides carry a family hanky down the aisle with them that can later be used for baby’s christening or baby blanket piece.  Consider using a family heirloom from your grandmother’s wedding, if one exists.

bridal hanky{Photos: Left: Pinterest, Right: Ruffled Blog via Pinterest}

Flowers in Her Hair:  Braids, braids, braids and beautiful wildflowers flowers filled within them is how many Irish brides walk down the aisle (think Kate Moss’ wedding day look).  Ask your hair stylist to include a few Bells of Ireland, a beautiful wildflower to accent your wedding day do.  And consider including your bridesmaids too!  One tradition suggests giving each girl myrtle to carry and telling them to plant in after the wedding.  If it grows, the myth says she’ll get hitched within a year.

wedding braids with flowers{Photos: Top Left: Flickr, Top Right: Sarah Gawler via Ruffled Blog, Flower Girls: Miki & Sonja, Ballerina Bride: Yan Photo}

The Claddagh Ring:  One of the more well-known traditions, the Claddagh Ring is a heart held between two hands with a crown atop it, symbolizing friendship or love.  It’s often handed down from mom to daughter for an engagement.  Worn with the crown facing inward symbolizes a modern day engagement, while outward says marriage.

Lucky Horseshoe:  Irish brides used to carry a horseshoe down the aisle, but that doesn’t seem all too practical these days.  Why not have a horseshoe (turned up) sewn into the under layers of your dress?  Or a charm on a piece of jewelry reflecting the idea?  Some brides today will carry a small figurine of a horseshoe or even tie one to the stem of their bouquet for good luck.

lucky horseshoe wedding{Photos: Left: Beau & Stella, Right: Melissa Dunstan Photography}

Irish Wedding Toast:  A toast given by the bridal party, the friends and loved ones surround the bride and groom, raise their glasses (filled with mead) and recite:

“Friends and relatives, so fond and dear, ’tis our greatest pleasure to have you here. When many years this day has passed, fondest memories will always last. So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask God’s blessing in your hour of need.”

Then the guests at the event respond with:

“On this special day, our wish to you, the goodness of the old, the best of the new. God bless you both who drink this mead, may it always fill your every need.”

Lace and Kilts:  Fashion is always a great way to incorporate local culture into your wedding.  For the ladies, consider Irish lace on your gown or trimming your veil.  For the gents, they may choose to wear Celtic Kilts, those oh-so fashionable plaid skirts of ancient times.

irish wedding kilts{Photos: Paul Johnson Photo}

Wedding Dinner and Dessert:  For your reception meal, consider serving up traditional Irish fare.  Corned beef and cabbage paired with Guinness are of course common on the menu and Irish soda bread on the side.  Okay, if this is a bit too much for you, serve it up mini during cocktail hour then move to a western-influenced dinner menu.  For dessert, serve your traditional wedding cake with theirs – a fruitcake!

How will you celebrate your Irish heritage or wedding location?