Fancy a bit of the ‘luck of the Irish’ on your big day? Take a look at some of these Celtic traditions and superstitions for good fortune on your wedding day.
Luxury Ireland Jewellers, Austen & Blake, teamed up with wedding expert Olivia Buckley, founder of leading Irish wedding planning and event management company, Olivia Buckley International to delve into the world of Irish wedding superstitions, and what is taking over.
Irish Superstitions and Wedding Traditions
Irish culture has a rich tradition of wedding customs and rituals that are believed to bring good luck and fortune to the couple. These customs have been passed down through generations and are an integral part of Irish weddings to this day.
The Claddagh Ring
One of the most recognisable Irish wedding rituals is the use of the Claddagh ring. This ancient-looking traditional ring has a heart, a crown, and two hands holding the heart, which symbolises love, loyalty, and friendship. The ring is typically given as an engagement or wedding ring and is worn with the heart facing inwards to symbolise that the wearer’s heart is taken.
The Handfasting Ceremony
Another popular Irish wedding custom is the handfasting ceremony, which involves tying the couple’s hands together with a ribbon or cord to symbolise their union. This tradition dates back to ancient Celtic times and is said to have inspired the phrase ‘tying the knot.’
Olivia adds, “Handfasting has become one of the most popular rituals in weddings as more couples embrace humanist and spiritualist ceremonies. It is a beautiful, visual ritual that pays homage to ancient Ireland, and couples love that they actually ‘tie the knot’ and have a meaningful keepsake from their ceremony. It can be a wonderful way for friends and family to be invited into the ceremony, as they wrap the cords around the couples hands.”
Less Common Irish Wedding Traditions
While some traditions are still alive and commonly used in modern Irish weddings, others have fallen out of favour or have been adapted over time.
There are several reasons why some Irish wedding traditions have not been used or have become less common in modern times. One reason is that some traditions may be seen as outdated or no longer relevant to modern couples.
For example, the tradition of the groom giving the bride a coin to represent his willingness to share his wealth is less common today because many couples now see themselves as equal partners.
Not Wearing Green
The use of colour in ceremonies has also changed, as modern couples are more receptive to using colours that typically correspond with trends and the evolution of the modern aesthetic.
“The tradition of not wearing green has completely died out”, says Olivia. “Green has been one of the most popular colours for bridesmaid dresses in recent years—even my own bridesmaids wore forest green! The references to nature and of course, Ireland itself are influential reasons to include green in your wedding palette.”
As society becomes more diverse, some couples may choose to incorporate traditions from other cultures or religions into their weddings. This can lead to a blending of different traditions and a move away from strictly adhering to Irish wedding customs.
Despite these changes, many Irish wedding traditions remain popular and are still used in modern weddings. These include the tradition of the bride wearing a veil, the exchange of wedding rings, the use of traditional Irish music and dance, and the practice of toasting with Irish whiskey.
Beyond these beautiful wedding traditions, your special day is planned for you to enjoy and personalise. There are a variety of ways to add enjoyable touches to your wedding to make it even more special and unforgettable because even the smallest details matter.
“Wedding bells, a symbol of abundance and prosperity, are a fun tradition to embrace for your wedding”, says Olivia. “Typically, bells are reserved for church weddings, but there’s potential to embrace them even for secular weddings.
“During one of our weddings last year, guests received a small bell alongside their escort card with instructions to ring the bell when the bride and groom entered the reception. The bells made the most angelic sound as the bride and groom made the entrance and guests loved chiming to the newlyweds.”
More Wedding Traditions From Around The World
Couples across the globe show their love and commitment in many different ways, as these wedding traditions around the world prove.
Love is a universal language, but all across the globe there are different ways of showing it. Some wedding traditions are steeped in years of history and still resonate today, while others are a little more obscure. Wedding traditions around the world vary from country to country. In China, brides practice crying for up to a month before the big day, meanwhile in Mexico the celebrations last a full week.
Using a list of 195 countries and breaking them down by continent, Steven Stone has showcased some of the craziest traditions, in a bid to reveal how different couples celebrate their wedding days. From the weird and wonderful to the downright dangerous, here are some of the most bizarre (but kind of beautiful) wedding traditions around the world.
The UK: Something Old, Something New…
Kicking things off here in the UK, the age-old tradition of Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue is still upheld at a number of ceremonies, although couples are finding new ways to add a modern twist.
The tradition is said to have been born from an old English rhyme. On the day of the wedding, the bride must wear something old to represent the past, something new for the future, a borrowed item to symbolise the happiness given to the bride by the new husband, and finally something blue to ward off evil spirits.
France: Pastries Instead of Cake
France is famous for its incredible pastries, so instead of a fruit-filled wedding cake being the star dessert, at most French weddings, you’ll be served a Croquembouche. This is a real centre-piece of a dessert made up of small pastry balls stacked on top of one another.
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Spain: The Bride in Black
While it may seem a little strange, a traditional Spanish wedding tradition sees the bride wearing a black lace gown and veil called a mantilla. The attire was designed to symbolise the devotion she has to her husband, and addressing the vow ‘till death do us part’?
Sweden: Flower Crowns Instead of Tiaras
In Sweden, you’re unlikely to see a veil or tiara as the bride will always traditionally opt for a beautiful flower crown. In keeping with many other wedding traditions around the world, the flower crown is steeped in symbolism. It often features a sprig of myrtle to symbolise love. Nowadays, flower crowns have become a popular wedding hair accessory around the world.
Germany: The Happy Couple use Chainsaws
While still wearing their wedding attire, German newlyweds are sometimes known to saw a log into two pieces during the ceremony. This tradition is known as Baumstamm Sägen. As it’s a two person saw, Baumstamm Sägen symbolises the couples strength as they face challenges in their marriage.
Kenya: Father Spits on the Bride
For the Maasai people in Kenya, spitting on someone is seen as showing them respect. So, if you go to a wedding in Kenya, don’t be shocked if you see the father of the bride spitting on her dress for good luck. Hoping not to jinx the marriage, the spit is meant in good faith.
Morocco: The wedding lasts an entire week
Although most of us are exhausted after one day of wedding celebrations, in Morocco, parties often last up to seven days. From pre-wedding ceremonies, preparation rituals and a huge wedding day feast, expect to book a week off work if you’re attending a Moroccan wedding.
At the start of the wedding week, the bride will go on a Hammam day to mark the beginning of a new chapter in her life. As a ritual of purification, the bride-to-be will visit a traditional sauna with her friends and relatives.
The bridal party will also have a henna party, each getting tattooed onto their hands and feet. Once they’re pampered, they’ll be pre-wedding feasts, the wedding day and the after-party, with lots of dancing.
Nigeria: Guest Throw Cash at the Newlyweds
Guests at weddings in Nigeria aren’t afraid to splash the cash. It’s customary for guests to toss bills at the bride and groom as a gesture to show the couple their happiness for them and also to keep them on the dance floor. With the price of weddings these days, we’d say this is a pretty savvy tradition to keep hold of.
China: The Crying Ritual
Whilst it’s expected to see a few tears shed at a wedding, in some parts of China the bride is required to practice crying. A month before the ceremony, Tujia brides are expected to cry for one hour each day. 10 days into the ritual, she is joined by her mother and 10 days after that, the bride’s grandmother joins in. Known as Zuo Tang in the western Sichuan province, the ritual dates back to China’s Warring States era when the mother of a Zhao princess broke down in tears at her wedding.
Japan: Families Drink in Sync
Family members having a few too many at a wedding doesn’t seem too odd, does it? However, drinking in unison may be a little more unusual. In Japan, the historic tradition of san-san-kudo, requires the bride and groom take three sips each from three flat sake cups, after which their parents do the same, bonding the families together.
Korea: A Goose for the Bride
Most newlyweds are gifted accessories for their new home or money towards their honeymoon, however in Korea, a slightly bizarre wedding tradition sees brides and grooms exchange wooden geese and ducks on their wedding day as a sign of their commitment. Historically, grooms also give their new mother-in-laws wild geese or ducks. The monogamous animals represent the groom’s pure intentions and loyalty to his bride.
Cuba: The Bride Charges you to Dance with Her
This is another wedding tradition from around the world we could get on board with… Regardless of culture, it’s usually common for the bride to dance with her guests, however, in Cuba the dance comes with a price. Every man who dances with the bride is traditionally required to pin money on to her dress. This is to help the couple pay for the wedding and honeymoon.
Peru: Single Ladies Seek Love in the Cake
If you’re a single lady, you’ll love this wedding tradition in Peru. Similarly to the common wedding tradition around the world of throwing over the bouquet. A traditional Peruvian wedding cake has ribbons hanging out around the sides. Each ribbon is attached to a charm inside the cake, however one special ribbon is attached to a replica wedding ring. If you’re served the wedding ring-filled slice of cake, Peruvian’s believe that you’re next in line to get married.
Wherever your wedding around the world, take a look at Steven Stone‘s selection of engagement and wedding rings.
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