A wedding is a joining together of two people and all they bring with them. Their family heritage and traditions merge.
So your wedding is a perfect time to think about your cultural heritage, what you like, what you want to learn more about, and how to bring it into your new married life. For many people, their faith tradition sets out the details of their wedding ceremony. But most leave room for a few personal flourishes. That’s where you can incorporate a nod to Irish wedding traditions.
Here are few Celtic wedding traditions you can weave into your big day no matter what kind of ceremony you are planning. Use one or embrace them all, depending on your personal taste.
Enter with Harp Music
Your entrance music sets the tone for the ceremony. Gliding down the aisle to the gentle sound of the harp is an elegant way to set a subtle Celtic theme. The harp has always been a symbol of Ireland, and it is still used on official documents. It has a timeless quality that transcends any specific historic period or belief system, making it ideal for a wedding. You can opt for a traditional entrance song or something Irish such as Si Bheag Si Mhor by Turlough O’Carolan – or almost any of O’Carolan’s tunes. People might not know this legendary Irish harpist’s name, but they will recognize many of his hauntingly beautiful songs.
Handfasting in Any Type of Ceremony
Handfasting was originally a pre-Christian Celtic wedding ritual. It symbolizes the bond between the two people getting married. As an ancient tradition, the process is pretty loose and variable. The couple clasp hands, and an officiant winds a ribbon or cord around their joined hands. While it is used in pagan weddings, it can also be done by couples having a secular or church service – provided the officiant agrees. The ribbon used makes a beautiful wedding keepsake.
Another Kind of Wedding Bell
Small bells were once a popular Irish wedding gift. The tradition was that if the couple quarrelled, one would ring the bell to remind them of the church bells on their wedding day. The idea was to call to mind their wedding vows and nudge them to see the bigger picture of their relationship instead of worrying about small things. It can also remind couples to love and honor each other even during a disagreement. One fun way to bring this Irish tradition into your wedding is to give the guests little bells to ring as you leave the ceremony. It’s more environmentally responsible than confetti, rice or balloons. There’s no clean up, and the guests get a cute memento of your big day!
You can find so many beautiful Celtic motifs to use in your invitations, decorations and cake. From the Claddagh, which symbolizes love, friendship and loyalty, to any type of intricate Celtic knot, all of which represent eternity. You can serve an Irish menu at your reception. And of course, you can find stunning Irish wedding rings featuring these iconic designs. But you can also add any of these three touches to make your wedding day more richly Celtic.