Do you or your partner have Irish heritage? If so, why not include some Irish wedding traditions on your big day? We’ve rounded up some classic Irish wedding traditions and the history behind them so you can decide which ones you’d like to include at your wedding.
Love reading up on wedding traditions? Don’t miss our feature on the weirdest wedding traditions!
The Claddagh Ring
This traditional Irish ring represents love, loyalty and friendship. The two hands on either side of the heart represent friendship, the heart is a symbol of love and the crown represents loyalty. The design originates from the fishing village of Claddagh, which was just outside the old city walls of Galway and is now part of Galway City.
Claddagh rings are used as friendship, engagement or wedding rings and are sometimes handed down through generations. Irish author Colin Murphy explained that the way the ring was worn revealed the wearer’s relationship status:
- When worn on the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
- When worn on the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship.
- When worn on the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
- When worn on the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married
Browse more unusual wedding rings if you love the idea of having something different.
Picking the Right Month
It was once a tradition in Ireland to avoid marrying in May and August, which were the busiest times in Irish life. Now they’re pretty popular times to marry so by observing the traditional rhyme you might actually find it’s a handy way to save money on your wedding.
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 labour 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 fall fast, marry and true love will last.
Irish Wedding Superstitions
It was believed that if the sun shone on the bride on her wedding day, it was good luck for the couple. You were also in for good luck if you saw three magpies on the morning of your wedding or if you heard a cuckoo. Upon leaving the wedding ceremony, it was considered important that the first person to wish good luck to the newlyweds was a man and not a woman.
Ever wondered where the phrase ‘tying the knot’ comes from? It comes from this old Irish tradition where the hands of the bride and groom are joined together to symbolise them coming together as husband and wife.
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A Blue Wedding Dress
Traditionally Irish wedding dresses were blue, not white. Queen Victoria made white wedding dresses popular when she married Prince Albert, but before that Irish brides had a ‘something blue’ in the form of a blue gown as the colour was believed to bring luck.
If you love that idea, don’t miss our edit of the most gorgeous non-white wedding dresses.
Traditional Irish Music
The harp was the emblem of Ireland until the end of the 19th century, so you could always have a harpist play some traditional Irish music – it’s a great idea if you’re looking for beautiful processional music ideas.
We’ve got 30 beautiful processional aisle songs to inspire you.
A horseshoe is believed to be a symbol of good luck and should always be displayed with the ends pointing up to stop the luck from running out. If it’s not convenient to carry a horseshoe on your wedding day, why not tuck a small one into your bouquet or ask your seamstress to embroider one inside your wedding dress?
It was once believed that the sound of bells would ward off malicious spirits, so guests were given small bells to ring at the wedding ceremony, or the couple would ring a bell together after saying their vows. If you don’t like this idea, you could always wear a bracelet or anklet with tiny bells on.
Choosing a braided wedding hairstyle is said to symbolise power and luck, so it became a popular choice for Irish brides to braid their hair on their wedding day.
If braided hair isn’t for you, how about a wedding hairstyle with flowers? Instead of a veil, Irish brides traditional wore a flower crown made from wildflowers. It’s a beautifully boho way to include a bit of tradition in your wedding day look.
Locking the Church Door
It was common for Irish grooms to get cold feet on their wedding day, which gave way to the tradition of locking the church door so no one could bolt – awkward. Thankfully this doesn’t seem to be the case nowadays, so if you are marrying an Irish guy don’t worry too much about locking him in.
If you’re a looking for more ways to include your heritage in your wedding, don’t miss our guide to wedding themes by nationality.