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5 Irish Wedding Traditions for an Inspired Ceremony

Published Friday, Mar. 17th, 2023


Sweet Irish wedding elements for every ceremony 

 

 

From decor to dancing, there are many lovely ways to incorporate traditional Irish wedding elements in your ceremony. 

 

Below, we’ve gathered together a mix of old and new traditions to consider, including an ancient Celtic Pagan ritual and a contemporary wedding bell blessing. There’s something for everyone, whether you're planning a big Irish wedding or a multicultural celebration that includes elements from both partner’s families and communities.

 

Next, ask a friend or family member to get ordained online and officiate your wedding! 

 

Then, choose an officiant script from our free Wedding Ceremony Scripts Library, and add one of the elements below. 

 

 

...♡...

 


5 Irish Wedding Traditions for an Inspired Ceremony 

 


1. Lucky Horseshoe

 

Photo of a wedding horseshoe mounted to a decorative wood piece, with white clover flowers, two wedding bands

 


Irish brides are sometimes given a horseshoe for luck on their wedding day. This symbolic gift is tied to their wedding bouquet (usually made of local wildflowers) or carried in a pocket as they walk down the aisle. After the ceremony, the horseshoe is hung up in the couple’s home to ensure a joyful and happy marriage. 

 

Horseshoes can also be incorporated in the ceremony in other ways as part of the decor, as decorative brooches and hair ornaments, or as a pattern for ties, socks, or the linings of jackets and dresses.

 

Related: 5 Lucky Wedding Traditions from Around the World

 


2. Handfasting Ceremony 

 

Close up photo of a wedding officiant tying the handfasting cord around a bride and groom's wrists as they hold hands during the wedding ceremony

 

 

Handfasting can be traced back all the way to Pagan weddings held centuries ago, when couples pledged their love by tying a cord or ribbon around their wrists. Handfasting ceremonies are very popular with modern couples as a way to incorporate meaningful cultural traditions and spiritual symbols in their ceremony. The colors of a handfasting cord carry special meaning as well, and there are many different ways to tie the cord during the ritual.

 

We love handfasting so much that we created a detailed planning guide & wedding package to help you add this ritual to your ceremony:

 

 

 

 

3. Marry in April, but not in May

 

Image of four leaf clovers and a white clover flower against a bright blue sky in spring

 

 

An old Irish wedding song suggests the best – and worst – months to plan a wedding ceremony according to local folklore: 

 

“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 falls fast, marry and true love will last.”

 

(The true origin of this poem is unknown, but we choose to trust the folks at Ireland-Information.com who say it’s Irish. Sounds good to us!) 

 

 

4. Irish Wedding Bells

 

Close up image of a woman with purple fingernail polish ringing a small decorative wedding bell

 

 

According to Irish folklore, couples were given a set of matching wedding bells to ring during the ceremony after exchanging their vows, to ward off evil spirits (sometimes called 'kissing bells). Other accounts suggest that these bells could be used by the couple later, as a way to end arguments and banish negative energy from the home (sometimes called a 'make-up bell' or Claddagh bell). 

 

Modern variations of this tradition include tying wedding bells to a bride or groom’s bouquet (via Martha Stewart), and giving each wedding guest a bell to ring at the end of the ceremony in blessing to the new couple for many happy years ahead… and an especially merry send-off. 

 

 

5. The Claddagh Ring

 

Close up image of a woman wearing an Irish Claddagh ring

Photo: Giulia Bertelli

 

The design of this beloved Irish ring includes two hands holding a heart, sometimes accompanied by a stone or gem, and is said to represent the three principles of marriage: friendship, loyalty, and love (via GreenWeddingShoes). It’s traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, and can mean different things depending on how it’s worn.

 

When worn on the left ring finger, with the hands pointed away from the wearer, it’s said to symbolize engagement. The ring is turned around on the wedding day, so that the hands point toward the wearer, to symbolize marriage.  

 

Related: The Wedding Ring Finger - Which Finger, Which Hand, and Why!

 

...♡...

 

 

History of Marriage: Did you know? Did you know that the term ‘honeymoon’ is of Irish origin? The term references a traditional wedding gift of mead or honey wine given to the couple by their families following the ceremony – usually enough to last them for a full month of celebrations. Thus the term ‘honeymoon’ itself is a shortened form of  ‘enough honey (mead) to last for a full cycle of the moon (a month).’ We’ll toast to that!

Start the honeymoon early with a honey wine unity toast during the ceremony: 

 

Wedding Ceremony Script:

Summer Solstice Handfasting with Honey Wine Toast

This festive wedding script includes a handfasting ritual and mead toast, to celebrate a marriage of new beginnings, passion, abundance, and family. 

See the full wedding script here. 

Illustration by Jessica Levey, stylized image of two people with foreheads touching, laughing and wearing floral wedding wreaths on their heads

Illustration by Jessica Levey

 

 



You might also like: 

 

 

 

 

Close up image of a Celtic knot etched into an oathing stone for a Scottish wedding blessing ceremony


Learn how to perform an Oathing Stone Ceremony, including vows and sample script for modern or traditional weddings. Read the full article here. 


 


 

 

Interested in more wedding traditions 
& superstitions from cultures around the world?

 

 

Lucky in Love :  

TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS, AND RITUALS TO PERSONALIZE YOUR WEDDING

 

 

AMM Minister Eleni Gage and the cover of Lucky in Love

 

 

Covering traditions, rituals, and superstitions from all over the world, this book brings magic and a touch of luck to your wedding! 

 

'Lucky in Love' is a cross-cultural collection of marriage folklore to help you create your own lucky traditions with nods to each other’s heritage, customs from places you’ve visited together, and auspicious rituals that just feel special. Whether you are just engaged or only days away from tying the knot, you’ll gain insight every step of the way. Make your own luck in love!

 

Written by Eleni N. Gage, an AMM Minister and former Executive Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Illustrated by Emily Isabella. 


ORDER NOW 

 

 


 


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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