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An Irish Themed Wedding

Whether you are planning a full-blown Irish themed wedding or just want to add a few meaningful elements to honor your Irish heritage, there are many traditions and customs for you to choose from.

From the food to the music, there are many basic ideas you can incorporate into your ceremony and reception to give it an Irish flair.

INVITATIONS

Symbols To Use

Picture of the Celtic knot.

Your invitations and programs are a great way to incorporate an Irish theme into your wedding.

Use symbols of Ireland, such as, a Celtic cross, Celtic love knot, Claddagh, mandala, or shamrocks.

For a whimsical touch, you can use unicorns or leprechauns to let you guests know about the theme you have chosen.

Colors

Picture of a Luck of the Irish sign with green shamrocks.

Also, think about the colors to use on your invitations.

While green is the color that first comes to mind when thinking of Ireland, blue and gold are also traditional colors.

For example, on your invitations or programs you could use a pale green cover with a white sheet underneath or you could use a traditional white paper stock with green ink.

Also, there are many fonts that originated from the Book of Kells. Use one of these when printing your invitations and programs.

If you really want an authentic Celtic look, then hire a calligrapher.

CHOOSING A DATE

Traditionally, most Irish weddings were held during one of the four major festivals.

These festivals are:

  • Beltane - Is the spring festival which falls around the first of May.

  • Lughnassadh - Is the summer festival and takes place in early August.

  • Samhain - Is thought to be the Celtic New Year and takes place on November 1. (This is a very popular date.)

  • Imbolic - This festival takes place on February 1.

There are several other days that are considered to be lucky.

The days are:

  • The last Tuesday before Lent.
  • Christmas Day
  • December 31st
  • New Year's Day
  • And of course, St. Patrick's Day

THE IRISH THEMED WEDDING CEREMONY

Picture of an harpist at an Irish themed wedding.

If you have the freedom, you may wish to incorporate parts of the traditional Irish masses into your religious ceremony. For example, the Celtic Mass or the St. Patrick's Mass.

Each mass includes traditional melodies and sounds that will give special meaning to your ceremony.

Some couples choose to incorporate live bagpipers dressed in kilts. However, if you feel that the bagpipes would be too loud for the ceremony, save them for the reception and use a harpist or uilleann piper.

IRISH THEMED WEDDING CUSTOMS

The Unity Candle

During the ceremony two candles burn separately and a taller pillar candle is lit at the closing that signifies the two becoming one.

There are many unity candles available with Celtic designs on them.

Wedding Bell

Another custom is for the bride and groom to ring a bell at the end of the ceremony. The couple then keeps this bell to ring when they are arguing to remind them of their vows.

More On Irish Themed Wedding Customs and Traditions

Attire

The Bride

Many brides choose to wear the traditional Celtic wedding dress. If so, you may also wish to wear a Kinsale cloak with your gown.

However, if you choose not to wear the traditional Celtic dress, you can still have your gown embroidered with symbols, such as, the Celtic Knot or shamrocks for good luck.

You can also have hand-made Irish lace put on your wedding veil.

Even though the color green is associated with Ireland, many Irish brides wear blue on their wedding day for good luck.

For the finishing touch to your wedding attire wear a green garter with a shamrock or horseshoe charm attached to it.

Often, the groom will give his bride a pair of Celtic earrings to bring her good luck.

The Groom

The groom and groomsmen can wear a kilt.

However, if that does not go with the style of your wedding, have all the male attendants wear green cummerbunds or green ties.

Your present to the groom could be a set of cuff links with a Celtic symbol on them.

Another custom is to be married wearing old shoes for good luck.

Flowers

Many Irish brides prefer wildflowers, such as lavender.

Other flowers you might choose for your bouquet and centerpieces are Bells of Ireland, foxglove, heather, ivy, laurel, lilies, myrtle, roses, and rhododendrons.

Music

While there are many ways you can give your Irish themed wedding an Irish flair, the main one is through music.

There are many special songs that are suited for a wedding. The most popular is the The Irish Wedding Song by Ian Betteridge.

This is a very beautiful song and many couples choose to put the words to the song on their wedding programs.

Consider having a friend or family member sing it during your ceremony or you can always play a recording of the song.

At your reception play a mix of the traditional Irish songs with modern day Irish bands.

Get more wedding song ideas.

An Irish Themed Wedding Reception

Picture of table decorations for an Irish themed wedding.

If you are wanting to have bagpipers, then the reception is a great place to have them.

Have the bagpipe music played to signal the arrival of the bride and groom. You can also use them to let the guests know it is the end of the meal and the beginning of the dancing.

The Menu

Picture of Irish wedding food  includes leg of lamb and potatoes.

There are many traditional foods that can be served at your Irish themed wedding.

A traditional menu might include Irish soda bread, fine Irish cheeses and potato soup.

Serve such entrees as poached salmon, ham, or leg of lamb.

Or you could serve heartier pub food, such as corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie or roast turkey.

The Cake

An Irish wedding cake is often a rich fruit cake - iced in white.

The top tier should be an Irish whiskey cake.The married couple saves this top layer to eat on their first anniversary and at the christening of their first child.

The Drink

Picture of Guinness served as a drink at an Irish themed wedding.

For the beverages, consider cider, whiskey, Guinness beer, and traditional Irish mead.

Sherry is usually the first drink served to toast the bride and groom.

Traditionally, newlyweds were expected to drink mead during the first month or "first full moon" of their marriage. It is thought to promote virility and ensure a good beginning for the new marriage.

The Favors

Picture of a shot glass with a shamrock used as a Irish themed wedding favor.

Choose favors with Irish symbols.

Give your guests shamrocks or miniature horseshoe charms for good luck.

You can also hand out tiny bells to ward off evil spirits. (These can also be rung when the bride and groom exit the church). Attach a tag to the bells with a traditional blessing or prayer.

The Last Toast

At the end of the reception there is one last toast to give.

After filling their glasses with mead or champagne, the wedding party gathers around the bride and groom and the newly married couple recites these words:

***

"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."

***

Guests Respond:

"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."

***


Slainte!





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