For Planning a Traditional Irish Wedding
What better time to celebrate your Irish heritage than on your wedding day?
don't have to plan a trip to Ireland to bring the luck of the Irish to your wedding
celebration. You can have a totally Irish marriage celebration from beginning
to end even to the pre-wedding parties by just doing a bit of research
on the traditions that have been part of Irish weddings for centuries...
custom, called aitin' the gander, involves the groom being invited to the
bride's house right before the wedding... and a goose is cooked in his honor.
It has to be where we get the expression 'his goose is cooked!' There
are so many other charming marriage traditions, customs and an incredible amount
of folklore to draw upon. There are Irish wedding traditions that state, "Marry
in May and Rue The Day" and "Marry in April if you can, joy for
maiden and for man". When I told my daughter about these Irish superstitions,
she changed her wedding date and was married in April - why take any chances.
It seems to have worked!
are just a few ideas culled from the book The Traditional Irish Wedding.
The book covers attire, decor, menus, recipes, music, toasts, vows, and a resource
listing for everything from Irish wedding gowns and tiaras to sheet music for
a Celtic Mass.
mead is a honey wine that's served at the Bunratty Castle medieval banquet.
The Bunratty mead recipe is based on the oldest drink in Ireland and if you've never tasted
it, it's well worth trying. In the old days, it was consumed at weddings because
it was thought that it promoted virility. (If a baby was born nine months after
the wedding, it was attributed to the mead!) Couples also drank it from special
goblets for a full month following the wedding, which is supposedly where we get
the word honeymoon. This was to protect the couple from the fairies coming to
spirit the bride away.
| The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away, restore harmony, and also remind a couple of their wedding vows...
horseshoe. Irish brides used to carry a real horseshoe for good luck. (Turned
up so the luck won't run out). You can get porcelain horseshoes which most Irish
brides carry these days, or one made of fabric which is worn on the wrist.
Hanky. This charming custom involves having the bride carry a special hanky
that with a few stitches can be turned into a christening bonnet for the first
baby. With a couple of snips it can be turned back into a hanky that your child
can carry on his/her wedding day.
bells. The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away, restore harmony
if a couple is fighting, and also remind a couple of their wedding vows. Giving
a bell as a gift has become an Irish tradition. You could also have your greeters
hand out tiny bells to your guests to ring as you process. (You might want to
let them know when they're supposed to be rung - perhaps mention it in your program
along with an explanation of the custom). Guests could also ring their little
bells at the reception in lieu of clinking glasses.
Dancers. Consider hiring a group of Irish dancers to hand out your programs
before the ceremony. Dressed in their full regalia, it would add a wonderful touch
of of pageantry and color. They could also dance at the reception later. We did
this at my daughter's reception and it was a major hit.
Music. There's so much wonderful Irish music available, you'll have no problems
in finding appropriate selections for both the ceremony and the reception. The
difficulty will be in deciding which pieces to play!
My daughter had the following Irish wedding vow on the front of her program:
the power that Christ brought from heaven, mayst thou love me.
As the sun
follows its course, mayst thou follow me.
As light to the eye, as bread to
the hungry, as joy to the heart,
may thy presence be with me, oh one that
'til death comes to part us asunder.
the back of the program, she had this old Irish proverb:
Don't walk in front
of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
me and just be my friend.
Irish Wedding Song. Very popular at contemporary Irish weddings. We had two
friends sing this at my daughter's reception while the newlyweds cut the cake.
(Afterwards I thought we should have had the lyrics typed up and placed on the
tables so that everyone could join in).
In the old days, many Irish brides wore a wreath of wildflowers in their hair;
they also carried them in bouquets. For my daughter's wedding, our florist designed
gorgeous bouquets that included a flower called Bells of Ireland. In Wales, brides
carried live myrtle and gave a sprig to each bridesmaid which they planted. If
it grew, the bridesmaid would marry within the year. If you're planning a more
general Celtic celebration, this might be worth considering.
customs: In the old days, couples ate salt and oatmeal at the beginning of
their reception: Each of them took three mouthfuls as a protection against the
power of the evil eye. Also, when a couple is dancing, the bride can't take both
feet off the floor because the fairies will get the upper hand. Fairies love beautiful
things and one of their favorites is a bride. There's many an Irish legend about
brides being spirited away by the little people! For the same reason, it's bad
luck for a bride to wear green. It's also bad luck for a bride or the groom to
sing at their own wedding.
and omens: Irish wedding superstitions
A fine day meant good luck, especially if the sun shone on the bride. If you're
a Roman Catholic, one way to make certain that it won't rain is to put a statue
of the Infant of Prague outside the church before your ceremony.
It was unlucky to marry on a Saturday.
Those who married in harvest would spend all their lives gathering
A man should always be the first to wish joy to the bride,never a woman
was lucky to hear a cuckoo on the wedding morning, or to see three magpies
* To meet a funeral on the road meant bad luck and if there was a funeral
procession planned for that day, the wedding party always took a different road
The wedding party should always take the longest road home from the church
It was bad luck if a glass or cup were broken on the wedding day
bride and groom should never wash their hands in the same sink at the same timeit's
courting disaster if they do
It was said to be lucky if you married during a 'growing moon and a flowing tide'
* When leaving the church, someone must throw an old shoe over the bride's
head so she will have good luck
If the bride's mother-in-law breaks a piece of wedding cake on the bride's head
as she enters the house after the ceremony, they will be friends for life.
customs? The top tier of your wedding cake should be an Irish whiskey cake which
is saved for the christening of your first baby and a bottle of champagne is saved
from the reception so that it can be used to 'wet the baby's head' at the Christening.
My hope is that when he says to you 'would you like to be buried with
my people', or you say to him 'would you like to hang your washing next to mine',
you'll say yes, and then use the suggestions to help you plan an Irish celebration
reflective of your roots and as romantic as your heritage. And
for all engaged couples and their families in the midst of pre-wedding chaos,
I raise a parting glass: May all your joys be pure joy and all your pain champagne.
the Author... Bridget Haggerty is the author of The Traditional Irish
The Information About Ireland Site - http://www.ireland-information.com