If you are planning a traditional Irish wedding, you can celebrate your Celtic roots by incorporating some of these Celtic wedding customs from times gone by into your big day.
Hopefully some of these Irish wedding traditions will inspire you to add some Celtic tradition to your ceremony.
Plan Your Wedding Day Around The Celtic Calendar
The Celts are a superstitious bunch who placed great store in adhering to the rhythm of the old pagan calendar. The Celtic calendar roughly divided into two halves; the brighter half of the year, ruled over by Brid, the benevolent Celtic goddess, who became Saint Brigid and the darker half of the year dominated by her mischievous alter ego, The Hag of Bere. It was considered bad luck to have a wedding celebration during these darker months. May 1st and August 1st were considered the most favorable days to marry, however any day between May Day and Halloween was acceptable.
The Celtic Handfasting Ceremony
The ceremony was a public declaration of the couple’s intention to marry, much like a modern day engagement. The Celtic druid would declare the two people as engaged. The engagement would last for one year during which the couple lived together. If things did not work out as planned, the couple were allowed to dissolve their handfast and were free to choose another.
In modern weddings, this handfasting technique is often used in secular wedding ceremonies and is where the phrase, ‘tying the knot‘ comes from.
The Celtic Wedding Ceremony
A Celtic wedding ceremony incorporated different elements and while each Celtic region or tribe may have had their own variations, there was a general common ceremony structure. Many of these traditions have continued to this day adding to the experience of an Irish wedding day. Not least, the importance of speeches in Irish weddings during which the important people in the wedding party are expected to make a speech along with anyone else who has anything to say.
Other ceremonial traditions include:
- presenting the bride and groom
- the passing of light
- giving thanks and taking an oath
- binding the hands
- exchanging the rings
The Celtic Oathing Stone
The bride and groom would place hold a stone in their hands when reciting their vows. The concept behind the tradition was to set their vows in stone to show they were everlasting.
In some modern weddings where Celtic elements are incorporated into the ceremony, the stone is passed to the wedding guests to make a wish and send good intentions to the newly-married couple before the couple take their vows.
The Celtic Grushie
The Celtic Grushie is an old custom found in many of the countries where the Celts lived. It involved the groom throwing a handful of coins into the crowd after the wedding ceremony. The Celts believed it would bring good luck to the newlyweds.
The Claddagh Ring
Of course, we cannot forget the most famous token of love associated with an Irish wedding. For over three hundred years, the Claddagh ring has been the traditional Irish wedding ring in Ireland. Today, the ring is gifted, not just as a traditional Irish wedding ring, but also to honor the words, Love, Loyalty and Friendship. The words that Claddagh symbol represents.
Celtic Wedding Traditions Infographic
If you are looking for inspiration for your wedding, use this handy visual presenting Celtic Wedding Traditions