Since March 17 is Saint Patrick Day, in this month’s post I thought it would be a good time to discuss the wedding traditions of Ireland. Maybe a destination wedding is planned to a magical castle in Ireland or maybe the bride or the groom have an Irish ancestors in the family tree and which to honor their heritage, here are a few ideas and suggestions for incorporating Irish wedding traditions.
Perhaps one of the oldest Celtic wedding traditions is handfasting which is when a bridal couple join hands and a rope or cord is tied around their wrists to represent that they are united in marriage. Handfasting has recently become popular for modern weddings and the ritual can be performed at any time during the wedding ceremony. Today, an easy search on Goggle will result in numerous websites explaining handfasting and also sources for purchasing customized ropes and cords.
Another Irish tradition is the Claddagh ring and, although there are many myths and legends pertaining to the ring, it has been said that it was originally produced in the small village of Claddagh near Galway located on the west coast of Ireland since the 1700s (hence the name). The ring has come to traditionally symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship; it features two hands holding a heart with a crown.
Although the Claddagh ring can be sometimes given to someone in friendship, it is most often given as an engagement or wedding ring. Sometimes an Irish mother will pass on the ring when their daughter reaches a significant age, such as a 21st birthday. If used for an engagement or wedding, in the case on an engagement the ring is worn with the heart facing away and after the wedding it usually changed to face towards the wearer indicating that their heart is taken in marriage.
The Claddagh design can also be incorporated into other items for a wedding and shown below is a photo of a unique wedding cake topper;
this idea would be a great way to honor an Irish heritage
The shamrock, besides bringing good luck to those that find one, has become a symbol of Ireland and in fact it is considered the national flower. The shamrock (trifolium dubium) it is a type of clover with a very distinctive three leaves and it has been said that St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) used a shamrock in his Christian teachings as a symbol to represent the Holy Trinity.
The photos below show shamrocks used for a bridal bouquet and a boutonniere
Shamrocks in a variety of forms could be used for a wedding and shown below is a shamrock necklace which would be perfect for a bridesmaids or flower girl gift but a shamrock charm could also be attached to a bridal bouquet or a bridal garter in a lucky shade of green.
The photo below shows a wedding cake decorated with shamrocks
(maybe the toasting glasses are from Waterford,
a glassware company long associated with Ireland)
Irish linen and lace
Speaking of table linens, Ireland is known for their fine linen and lace products. The cloth for the table linens is made from flax which had been initially grown exclusively in Ireland but in recent years much of the flax has been sourced from Europe or Asia. Regardless of where the yarn is produced, if the linen product is woven in Ireland from 100% flax fibres it warrants the Irish Linen Guild trademark to signify that is a genuine Irish Linen brand.
Shown below is an Irish table linen that incorporates a shamrock motif
and it would be perfect for a cake table
Irish lace is another product associated with Ireland, although the industry started in Dublin, there are several different variations of lace patterns that are manufactured in various parts of the country.
A bridal veil made of Irish lace would be lovely to wear with a wedding dress,
it could be another sentimental heirloom to pass onto future generations.
An Irish linen handkerchief trimmed with Irish lace would be a lovely heirloom item to pass onto generations. A very sentimental idea is for the parents of the bride to purchase an Irish linen handkerchief for her to carry on her wedding day, then saved for later use as a Christening or Baptismal bonnet (converted with a few folds and stiches).
The Irish linen and lace handkerchief shown below
is beautifully embroidered with the bride’s monogram and the Claddagh symbol
Another idea for an Irish linen and lace handkerchief would be as a gift to the mothers of the bride and groom (to wipe away those happy tears!) or for the father of the bride to carry in his suit pocket as her walks his daughter down the aisle. An Irish linen and lace handkerchief would also make a great gift for the bridesmaids, maybe embroidered with their initials.
The following Celtic symbols are replicated in many different forms that being most often jewelry items. Any of these items would make a great gift for the bride and the groom or the bridesmaids and ushers.
The Celtic cross has its origins during the Middle Ages in Ireland as well as Great Britain and France. Today, the Celtic cross is often decorated with an interlaced design and features a ringed center.
Shown below is an example of a Celtic cross necklace
that would make a great gift for a bride to wear on her wedding day.
Celtic trinity knot
The Celtic trinity knot is designed in such a way that there is seemingly no beginning or end symbolizes eternity. The three sections of the knot have been known to represent the Holy Trinity, it is sometimes called the Triquetra.
Shown below is a pair of Celtic knot cufflinks
that would make a great gift from a bride for her groom to wear on the wedding day.
The Celtic heart, an example is shown below,
is a stylized version of the Celtic knot and would make a great gift for the bridesmaids.
Shown below is another version of the Celtic heart
is a lovely wedding cake topper