Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and wonderful wedding blessings

Updated On: October 27, 2022

Celtic handfasting ceremony - Irish wedding Traditions

Weddings can be the happiest occasion of a persons life. It is not only a joyous time for the bride and the groom, but also for all the family and friends who celebrate along. It is the common way to celebrate marriage in almost every culture around the world. However, every culture has their own wedding traditions and customs. Two countries may celebrate the concept of marriage through weddings but in totally different ways.

In this article, we will introduce you to the weird and wonderful Irish wedding traditions and lovely Irish wedding blessings. In general, Ireland is popular for possessing multiple unique beliefs that differ from the rest of the world. We have traditions from the Europe as well as ancient Gaelic and Celtic customs.

How are Irish Wedding Traditions Different From Those of Other Cultures?

Cultures have their own differences yet always share some similarities. In fact, today’s Irish weddings are quite comparable to weddings around the world. The Irish wedding traditions of the modern times are all about luxury. Fancy hotels, a large guestlist and great food and drink have become the norm at weddings. People wear their best suit or dress for the occasion. These are all things that many countries do. So what actually differentiates our weddings from other countries? Well, we still practice many wedding traditions that may surprise you.

Irish wedding blessing
Irish wedding blessing

In the past, Ireland was a poor country. Weddings were still celebrated, but people simply didn’t have the money to afford the luxury we have come to expect at weddings nowadays. Weddings were much simpler and more conventional, focusing on the union of two people. The traditions of Irish weddings are lovely and many people still like to follow them. They were formed throughout the Gaelic history of Ireland. You may like to add some of these customs to your big day.

Did you know that many Irish wedding traditions have become recognised and practiced all over the world? There are many wedding related terms that have also become mainstream in pop-culture that are actually of Irish origin.

In this article you will find the following sections:

The Type of Irish Wedding Ceremony

Aside from hotels and churches, there are other places to celebrate weddings at. There are also different forms of marriage including:

  • Civil partnership – This is a non-religious legal wedding similar to a courthouse wedding in the USA. It is common to have a reception afterwards.
  • Secular marriage ceremony – This is a non-religious or non-denominational legal wedding ceremonies which include humanist and spiritualist weddings.
  • Religious marriage ceremony – Modern Ireland is a multicultural country with many different religions, customs and beliefs. Traditionally, a religious wedding in Ireland would refer to a Catholic wedding in a church.

Traditional Irish weddings were Catholic ceremonies in churches and for the purpose of this article we will be looking at this type of wedding.

chapel - Irish wedding traditions
chapel – Irish wedding traditions

The Irish Wedding Traditions during the Past

Ireland has gone through many ages of oppression. Those who suffered the most in the past were people of Catholic denomination. This oppression included Penal Laws in the 16th century that inhibited many Catholic rights in things like education and marriage.

The law did not allow priests to say Masses or conduct the Sacrament of Marriage. There were also severe sanctions on priests that got caught. It was only in 1920 that the Penal Laws officially ended and Catholics restored their freedom, though they were repealed and less strictly enforced beginning in the late eighteenth century.

However, before this time Catholics spent centuries practising their religious rituals underground. They fought to keep their own identity all of those years, so it is no wonder that the Irish wedding traditions are unique, but more importantly, have survived the test of time.

The Specific Days for Irish Weddings

This may sound weird enough, but actually, Ireland had specific days when people got married. Other cultures may not pay attention to what day of the week it is when it comes to weddings or they arrange days that are suitable for all parties, but this was not exactly the case in Ireland.

Long ago, people set their weddings on Sundays. It made sense, it was a weekend and most people were free of responsibilities as even farmers saw Sunday as a day of rest. It gave room for everyone to attend the wedding. Throughout the years, that notion has changed a bit. Naturally, cultures evolve and develop; they ditch some customs and keep others.

In the Catholic denomination however, Sundays were a disrespectful choice for weddings as it was the busiest day for a priest. Sundays were meant to be dedicated to praying and the Sunday texts had precedent over weddings. It was not canon law, so a people could ask a bishop for permission to hold mass on a Sunday or Holy day, but it was only granted in extreme circumstances. People usually wanted to hold a wedding on a Saturday anyways as they would not be working the next day, so it was never a major issue, but it is an interesting caveat to Irish weddings.

Typically Marriages were not permitted during Lent, as the wedding celebrations contrasted the penance and self-sacrifice expected during the season. There were always exceptions to this rule such as a fatal sickness. Nowadays it would not be unusual to be invited to a wedding during lent, but if anything people wait until after Lent for better weather.

Setting weddings in May was supposedly against Irish wedding traditions. Why? Well, because May is the start of the summer season which was Bealtane; a Pagan feast. It was discourteous to set a wedding during the Pagan feast. Those beliefs used to reside in Ireland for a very long time. They actually derive from an old marriage song that people usually sang about the 12 months of the year which include the following lyrics:

Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man

Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day

Marry when June roses go, over land and sea you’ll go

Conversely, others argue that Bealtaine was a popular season for marriage, as the summer season represents maturing from spring. It was also a common time for handfastings to take place, which we will discuss below.

The idea that Bealtaine was bad luck to get married during, could have been a way to break pagan traditions when Christianity arrived in Ireland, but this is pure speculation. It may also have been fine to wed during Bealtaine, just not the day of the feast.

The Special Days for Irish Weddings Currently

Weddings nowadays take place on Saturdays usually, mainly for practical reasons. According to Irish wedding traditions, you should plan your big day years in advance, to avoid any problems. Nowadays people do take time planning as there is a financial burden associated with weddings.

On the wedding day, the bride starts to get ready early. The Bridesmaids attend the bride’s home or hotel and they get ready together. Once they are happy, a fancy limo collects the bride and drives her to the church where the groom awaits. There, start the true traditions and customs of an Irish wedding. So, let’s get familiarized with those lovely Irish wedding traditions.

The Distinctiveness of the Irish Wedding Traditions

Previously, we have stated why the Irish wedding traditions have their very own identity. We are now ready to discuss this identity.

The Claddagh Ring

Wearing a traditional Claddagh Ring is a common practice in an Irish wedding. Both the bride and groom wear one traditionally and it is usually the first piece of jewellery a man will give the woman he is courting. It is usually given as a promise ring and the couple wear a matching pair.

Claddagh ring
Claddagh ring

The ring is a symbol of romance and marriage. Commonly, mothers hand the ring down to their daughters and the cycle keeps going on and on. The name of the ring belongs to a fishing village in Galway where it was first produced.

The ring comprises of 3 distinctive elements, firstly a crown symbolising loyalty. The crown then sits on top of a heart which symbolises love, and the heart is held by a pair of hands which symbolise friendship.

There are four ways to wear the ring which tell people of your relationship status. Before the wedding, the engaged bride wore the ring on her right ring facing inward toward the wrist. Once the wedding is over, the bride moves the ring to her left hand, still facing inwards or ‘upside-down’. The Claddagh ring could be used as a wedding band or wore along with one.

You can read about the Claddagh ring in our dedicated blog article to find out more, such as the various ways to wear the ring, what each variation means and the interesting story of the man who made it. The Claddagh ring was a major part of old Irish wedding traditions and has thankfully survived into the modern era.

Hand Fasting (Tying the Knot)

This Irish wedding tradition has a great story behind it and is actually the reason why we say someone has ‘tied the knot’ when they get married. The tradition of the Hand Fasting is an ancient Celtic custom.

Celtic handfasting ceremony during a traditional Irish wedding
Celtic handfasting ceremony during a traditional Irish wedding

You may think that couples living together before marriage is a modern phenomenon, but the Celts did it centuries ago. During festivals such as Bealtaine and Lughnasadh, people could participate in matchmaking. It was possible that they had never met before and entered the relationship blindly.

This may seem like a bad idea, but the story is not over just yet. So, two people would meet and join their hands together, a druid or priest then tied a ribbon into a knot around their clasped hands and proclaimed they were engaged. At the time it was seen as a trial marriage more than an engagement. The strangers lived as a married couple for a day and a year.

They would then return to the festival and decide if they wanted to remain married or leave their partner. There were no strings attached and it was a mutual decision, not just the mans choice. It was actually quite progressive and allowed people to test a relationship before committing to it. It wasn’t seen as a divorce, but more of an annulment in today’s world. It was as if to say the marriage never happened.

Practically speaking, it allowed druids to marry everyone on the same day, there were no cars or public transport back then which would have made travelling to individual weddings a bit more of a hassle!

However, in modern times, couple practice handfasting on the same day as their wedding, usually as part of their ceremony. It is a symbol of love nowadays as couples don’t wait 366 days to say their vows. As it was a Celtic custom, it is not a part of the Christian wedding ceremony, though some Christians do it if they wish to.

Hand fastening was performed by many other countries and is a part of Scottish, English, Germanic and Norse tradition.

Handfasting may be a symbol of commitment nowadays, but it was a legitimate way of marriage during the Middle Ages, recognised by Brehon law. Brehon Law was early Irish law which existed up until the 17th century. When the Penal Laws were abolished, formal marriages could take place instead, but considering the amount of time that has passed a lot had changed.

It is interesting to see how Celtic wedding traditions are incorporated into Christian weddings.

 The Magic Hanky (Irish Hankerchief Wedding tradition)

The magic hanky is another practice that the Irish wedding traditions embrace. It is a special handkerchief made of linen. The practice involves the bride holding the hanky throughout her wedding day. The piece symbolises good luck and often has shamrocks embroidered into its design.

The magic hanky is to be converted into a bonnet for the future Christening of the bride’s first child. The hanky is passed down from mothers to daughters and is used for weddings and christenings in the family.

The Lucky Horseshoe

The lucky horseshoe is a tradition that the whole world is familiar with, but did you know it features in part of the traditional Irish wedding? The U-shaped metal pieces was an Irish symbol of luck; people kept them in their houses for good fortune. Ireland was not the only country with this lucky symbol; England was famous for it too.

lucky horseshoe the luck of the Irish
lucky horseshoe: the luck of the Irish

In weddings, brides would walk down the aisle while holding the lucky horseshoe, it could even be a part of their bouquet. The bride and the groom would take the horseshoe to their matrimonial home and the groom would securely pin it to the wall. Despite the rarity of this practice now, using ceramic and glass horseshoes in weddings became a popular among the Irish wedding traditions.

In Greek culture the horseshoe did not symbolize luck. It was actually believed that it was a symbol of fertility along with the crescent moon. The horseshoe is considered lucky because it resembled the crescent moon, which was believed to be a protector of people in ancient times. An upside down horseshoe was seen as bad luck in Irish culture, interestingly.

Wedding Bells

Bells are popular in Christian religions. People believe that bells are capable of driving evil spirits away. Legend said that Saint Patrick drove the evil spirits away with a bell when fasting on Croagh Patrick for 40 days. People took no chances and would ring bells to keep their lives and marriages safe.

wedding bell Irish wedding tradition
wedding bell Irish wedding tradition

Among the Irish wedding traditions, ringing bells is a sign of wishing a married couple a joyful life. While ringing the bell, it is important that someone throws a shoe over the bride’s head. Of course, the shoe must not hit the bride’s head. This practice ensures further good luck.

Cold Feet and Locked Doors

A few centuries ago, people in Ireland used to believe that Irish men got cold feet. More surprisingly, it was something that they get specifically on wedding days. To solve the problem, guests would lock the door of the church. That was the way that the guests used to ensure the groom goes through the ceremony rituals peacefully.

Toasts of Weddings

Toasts are important parts of any happy occasion. People cheer for something great that is coming to pass. Irish wedding traditions involve toasting where everybody gathers to drink wine, toasting to the health of the couple. There are many different toasts and sayings recited at weddings. SLAINTE is the traditional Irish toast; it means “to your health.”

Wedding toast Irish wedding tradition
Wedding toast Irish wedding tradition

Aitin’ the Gander

‘Aitin’ (eating) the Gander’ is an old Irish phrase that means “the goose is cooked.” This phrase is still used in Dublin especially. It means that the groom is already taken and there is no going back!

The phrase goes back to an old tradition that the Irish practised before weddings. Before the wedding, the groom would visit the bride’s house and the family would cook a goose for him. Cooking the goose became a symbol that the bride and the groom were officially together and soon to be wed. Thus, people said “His goose is cooked” which became ‘aitin’ the Gander’.

Luck Money – Something borrowed something blue….

It seems like Irish wedding traditions are never-ending. Here is one of the more popular customs; Luck Money. In the past, the groom was responsible for giving the parents of the bride money. This practice was believed to bring luck to the new matrimonial house.

Luck money is no longer one of the Irish wedding traditions. But, it is still around when it comes to buying a livestock or cattle. When someone pays you in cash, it is tradition to give them ‘luck money’ back. You are not expected to give much back, it is just a sign of respect and hopefully good luck.

Did you know the full wedding poem goes something like this:

Something old,

something new,

something borrowed,

something blue,

a sixpence in your shoe

The sixpence refers to money used in the UK and Ireland at the time. Usually the father of the bride put a coin in the brides shoe or the groom would use a coin as part of his cufflinks for good luck.

Blue Wedding dresses – Something Blue

  • Did you know? The traditional colour of an Irish wedding dress was blue. Blue was a symbol of purity and was believed to vend off vengeful spirits. The trend of white wedding dresses is believed to have begun with Queen Victoria in 1840. Before this, white was a colour worn during mourning!
A traditional Irish wedding dress was blue
A traditional Irish wedding dress was blue

The Ceilidh Dance

If you are going to have an Irish wedding, this is one of the most important Irish wedding traditions. You will need to learn the traditional Irish dance, Ceilidh. The name of the dance is an Irish term; however, it can change according to other locations in Ireland. Some people refer to it as the Seige of Ennis or the Kerry Set.

The couple dances to special Irish tunes like Home to Mayo or The Galway Shawl, but you can choose an Irish song that reflects your background and your family’s heritage. To make things more fun, the guests traditionally join in as well. New couples usually sign up for dancing lessons before their weddings. Some of them even bring their wedding party along to ensure a fun dance.

Watch a traditional Irish wedding dance!

The Dowry

The dowry was once a popular practices that Irish wedding traditions included. The term dowry means a wedding gift (it literally means fortune); it could be money or other valuable things. Since the 19th century or so, brides-to-be had always received wedding gifts from their parents. The family of the daughter who was about to get married would transfer money, properties, or other valuable goods to the couple.

Many Irish people were not wealthy, so a dowry was offered in the form of land or farm animals, such as cattle or sheep.

Irish cattle dowry traditional Irish weddings
Irish cattle dowry traditional Irish weddings

The dowry was a way to secure your daughter’s future, but it was often seen as a gift given to the husband in an arranged marriage. In reality, parents wanted to make sure their daughter remained in a good financial status, regardless of her husbands wealth or work ethic. In the case the daughter was widowed, the dowry came in handy to support her.

Moreover, the dowry was sometimes a gift for the newly matrimonial household. Families agreed to provide a gift for the new couple to settle at the beginning of their new life. In most cases, the parents pay the first half of the dowry on the wedding day. Later, they provide the rest of the payment when the first child comes to the world.

The dowry sometimes acted as criteria for choosing a husband. For example, if the bride’s dowry is higher than that of the husband, they couldn’t get married. That was another way to ensure that the daughter wouldn’t marry someone with a lower status in society.

Modern times and the Dowry Tradition

The dowry was one of the most prominent Irish wedding traditions for a long time. However, in the modern world, people have abandoned this tradition. It became less popular in the countryside and rural areas of Ireland as women began to get more rights and freedoms, such as the right to continue working after marriage.

It is definitely a tradition that is outdated, but it is still common for families and guest to gift the couple money or useful gift in modern Ireland. But it is just that, a gift, not a dowry.

The Honeymoon was an Irish Thing

People around the world use the term honeymoon; however, do you know the truth behind it? Seemingly, Ireland was the first country to use the term. It has become popular with newlyweds all around the world. So, what is exactly the story of the honeymoon?

Well, ‘meala’ is an Irish word that means honey in English. People in Ireland used to name the month after the wedding as Mi na meala. The literal translation of the latter was “The month of honey.”

The reason behind this is that after the wedding, the bride and the groom usually drink mead which was made of fermented honey. The guests would often give mead to the couple along with special goblets. These gifts were simple ways to wish the newly weds a great beginning to their marriage.

Beer, Cider and Mead were all served at weddings
Beer, Cider and Mead were all served at weddings

The couple would share the drink for one full moon after their wedding. From here, the term “Honeymoon’ was created. Mead and honey were sacred drinks in the Irish wedding traditions; people believed they granted fertility for a great marriage.

This is a tradition that was celebrated by many cultures throughout history.

Lent, Marriage Prohibition and Chalk Sunday

Lent is a time that Irish people took very seriously in the past, it was the period that comes before Easter Sunday and it lasts 40 days. Among the Irish wedding traditions, wedding ceremonies were not allowed to take place during Lent.

The day before Lent begins is Shrove Tuesday, which we call Pancake Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is actually your last chance to get married before Easter starts; it was a day to feast and enjoy yourself before fasting, so it was a perfect day for a wedding.

June is the most popular month for weddings, however if you wanted to get married in the past, the period from Christmas until Lent was the best time to tie the knot. This could be because people were busy farming during the summer months. The winter months were quieter and in general, more difficult for people, so a wedding would be a nice happy occasion during this time.

The first Sunday of Lent was a fun day. People referred to it as Chalk Sunday and single men were the target of the day. Chalk Sunday involved marking the back of bachelors with chalk. This joke was usually taken with good humour among younger men who had plenty of time to get married, but older men would have been very angry by the prank.

This was because marriage was seen as a status symbol and rite of passage. Men were considered boys until they got married or matched and men thereafter. Salt Monday was also common the day after, single women and men were sprinkled with salt to ‘preserve’ them for the next year!

The Life of an Traditional Irish Bride

Being the bride should be something very special. You celebrate finding your soulmate and starting a new chapter of life. How you celebrate depends solely on your cultural and religious backgrounds. Irish brides have a lot of unique customs that wedding traditions imposed on them. Some of them are quite fun and a few are pretty strange. So, let us take a look at the life of an Irish bride.

Irish bride Irish wedding tradition
Irish bride Irish wedding tradition

Break the Cake

Breaking the cake is one of the first Irish wedding traditions for brides which is arguably the weirdest among all of the other customs. When the bride enters her new home for the first time, her mother-in-law shall break a piece of wedding cake over her head.

This was done to ensure the women would always be friends, but I’m not sure anyone would be too happy getting cake in their hair, especially nowadays when expensive hairdressers are usually employed for the day!

This is one tradition you are better off omitting, but it is funny to think about. Usually there was a whiskey soaked tier of the cake that would be saved for the christening of the couple’s first child.

When the Sun Shines

Irish people used to have some strange notions. One of them was about the sun bringing luck. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was an idea that involved the sun. If it shone on the bride, it was a sign of good luck to the couple.

Once the ceremony was over, it was preferable that a man was the first to wish the bride joy. If a woman was the one to wish first, then bad luck would be around them.

Wedding Veil or Headwear

Irish brides have the same choices to other European countries when it comes to bridal headwear. She chooses either a veil or any other couture headwear. Other than this, a garland of wildflowers was usually the favourite choice of an Irish bride.

Traditional Irish wedding headdress
Traditional Irish wedding headdress

It does not matter what she chooses. All the choices are quite lucky; however, the bride shall not put the headwear on herself. Wearing the headwear by herself was a sign of bad luck.

Brides were even allowed to pick flowers from the Hawthorn fairy tree during the festival of Bealtaine. It was considered extremely bad luck to disturb a fairy tree, but brides were the exception. Back in the day, you would need someone to keep track of all the lucky and unlucky Irish wedding traditions considering how many there were!

Irish wedding tradition hawthorn flowers from fairy trees
Irish wedding tradition hawthorn flowers from fairy trees

Keep the Man Around

The Irish wedding traditions involve some simple steps to help a woman keep her man loyal. Brides naturally wanted to ensure the fidelity of their husbands-to-be. In order to do that, a woman would give her husband a drink in secret. While he drank, she uttered the following words:

“This is the charm I set for love,

A woman’s charm of love and desire:

You for me and I for thee and for none else;

Your face to mine and your hand turned away from all others”.

Paying a Coibche

Coibche is an amount of money that the prospective husband has to pay. When a man proposes to a woman, he has to pay money to the bride’s father. As soon as the father receives the money, he divided it with the head of their tribe. In the second year of marriage, the wife had the right to receive a portion of the money. Over the years, the amount would increase. This is was definitely one of the more expensive Irish wedding traditions for grooms!

Aside from the Coibche, there is also a Tionnscar. That was a payment that the husband paid to the father if they came from different kingdoms. The payment was usually silver, brass, gold, or copper. This was among the most ancient Irish wedding traditions.

A Marriage Contract

During the 12th century, the Normans arrived in Ireland. At that time, marriage was a casual affair in Ireland. Couples were allowed to marry for one year and after that, either party could withdraw. This changed as marriage contracts became a thing.

It became more complicated then; if people could not fulfil the terms of the contract, which was usually to start and support a family, there was justified grounds for separation. This was before Christian marriages were popular though; divorce of Christian marriage sonly became legal in Ireland in 1995.

Age Does Matter

This custom was popular in a lot of cultures. The eldest girl in the family had to be the first daughter to marry. Then, her younger sisters would marry in order, according to their age. If a younger girl happened to marry first, people would suspect something was wrong with the older daughters.

The Perfect Woman for Marriage

Ancient Irish wedding traditions included choosing the ‘perfect’ woman. Women who were about to marry had to fit the criteria of the ideal woman. Those traits were a sweet singing voice, good sewing skills, cleverness, and a pleasant speaking voice.

There were expectations of men too, they had to be fit, healthy and wealthy enough to start a family and pay their dues to in-laws.

The Lace of the Irish Bride

Again, the couture of brides in Ireland is quite similar to that of the Western world. On the other hand, the Irish lace is something unique about Irish wedding culture.

Lace is actually a unique fabric in the Irish wedding traditions. Women in Ireland added this nice fabric to their veil or headwear and it looked magnificent. However, some people considered it too expensive or too extra, but they still wanted to follow this tradition, so they carried a lace handkerchief. Some particularly wealthy brides preferred handing out lace bags as gifts to the attendants. They would receive them as precious gifts too.

Wedding Gifts for the Bride

Usually, lace is a special gift that Irish brides receive as we have just discussed. It is an important Irish wedding traditions; however, there are lots of other items. Irish linen is equally important to lace; they both represent commitment. Surprisingly, some brides do not start their new life without owning collectable Belleek Pottery or stunning Waterford Crystal, these are more modern traditions though.

This may sound very strange to other cultures, but it is part of the Irish wedding tradition. Other gifts that the Irish brides usually receive are shakers of pepper and salt which are significant according to the Irish wedding customs. Tall toasting glasses are also lucky gifts alongside porcelain bells that work as reminders for the first days of marriage. It was said couples could ring the bells as a way to stop or resolve conflict when arguing.

Wedding China is a modern gift in the last few generations, given by one of the couples parents. Today most couples in Ireland will have wedding China on display which includes a full set of plates, cutlery, tea cups and saucers. This China is only used for very special occasions such as baptisms, Christmas and Irish wakes or when important guests are at the house. It is only used for very significant points in an Irish person’s life.

Burying the Statue

The Child of Prague is a statue that the bride should place outside before her wedding. Some brides bury the statue in their gardens, believing it was a sure-way to bless the day with good weather. Conversely, if it did rain when the statue was outside it was said to bring money in the future.

The child of Prague can be seen in most traditional Irish homes. It was usually given to a bride and was said to bring good fortune once its head broke off and was stuck back on. The only catch was that you couldn’t use human hands to break it; it was supposed to break naturally which is also why it was left outside. Sometimes people would speed up the process with a rock!

It was important that the head broke off cleanly at the neck so it could be stuck back on.

Ancient Irish Wedding Traditions

You now know too much about weird Irish wedding traditions! However, there are a few more surprising and fascinating traditions that existed during the ancient times that are mostly forgotten. Skim through these eccentric customs for fun; you will definitely come across a few ones you haven’t seen before.

wheat harvest time
wheat harvest time

The Good Omen

People in Ireland had the impulse to believe that a lot of mundane things are actually omens of luck. One of those signs includes getting married during a harvest; people consider it a good omen.  Another luck bringer was hearing the sound of a Cuckoo bird on your wedding day.

Be warned though, newly weds should never cross paths with funeral processions on their big day. This is considered bad luck but was probably more to do with respect than misfortune.

Ward Off the Evil Spirits

Traditionally, people rang wedding bells believing that it kept the devil away. However, it seems that this was not their only way to stave off the evil spirits. There were plenty of Irish wedding superstitions!

The ancient Irish wedding traditions obliged couples to eat salt and oatmeal on their big day. That was one way to ensure a peaceful marriage. These notions stem back to some Catholic and Gaelic customs that took place in Ireland.

Today, traditional Irish food such as a full Irish breakfast and soda bread is eaten by the wedding party in the morning. Ireland has some funny Irish wedding traditions to say the least!

10 Irish Wedding traditions

Traditional Irish wedding Blessings

Why not include some traditional Irish wedding blessings to your ceremony, here are some of our favourites from the list. You can ask anyone to say a wedding ceremony, from you priest or officiator, to a loved one, member of the wedding party or even the bride and groom themselves!

Irish wedding blessings as Gaeilge (Irish wedding blessings in Irish)

  • Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo. [pronunciation: slawn-cha kwig nah fur, og-us guh mar-fig nah mnaw guh joe] (Health to the men and may the women live forever!)
  • Mo sheacht mbeannacht ort! [pronunciation: Muh shocked bannocked urt!] (My seven blessings on you!)
  • Go n-éirí an bóthar leat! [pronunciation: Guh nye-ree un bow-her lat!] (May your journey be successful)

We got these phrases from Onefabday’s blog. You can check out Onefabday’s blog for more Irish wedding blessings, or check out our traditional Irish seanfhocail (proverbs) for sayings for every occasion!

Irish wedding dress - Irish wedding traditions
Irish wedding dress – Irish wedding traditions

Irish wedding Blesses in English

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A popular Irish wedding blessing

A beautiful Irish wedding blessing and probably the most famous on this list. There is something very sincere about wishing that that the little things go right for a person in life; that even when you are not there, things will will go their way.

May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!

A beautiful Irish wedding blessing

Another wholesome Irish wedding blessing. You could even use these verses as a message in a wedding card or as a message on a gift!

Religious Irish wedding blessing

May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness.
From this day forward.

A religious Irish wedding blessing

This is ideal for a church ceremony if you would like to include a religious Irish wedding blessing! Here is another wedding blessing you may like to include:

May you have love that never ends,
lots of money, and lots of friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do,
and may God send many blessings to you!

Another religious Irish wedding Blessing

Final Thoughts

Nowadays there is no pressure to have a traditional Irish wedding. Couples can choose to get married in church’s, hotel receptions outside in nature or really wherever they want. Weddings range from lavish ceremonies with hundreds of guests to a small wedding with a intimate gathering afterwards. Some people elope abroad, while others return home especially for the occasion.

Traditions can be followed, altered or left out altogether depending on the bride and groom’s wishes. So don’t feel pressured to have a completely traditional Irish wedding – we are not even sure if that is possible- you can still incorporate the elements you like for your big day.

Wedding Sites

The Irish Government now allow couples to hire out national buildings for their wedding party. People are in love with this idea because they can go interesting and heritage sites. If your wedding ceremony is soon, choose one of those incredible sites.

  • Desmond Hall, Limerick
  • The Ceide Fields Stoneage Visitor Centre, Mayo
  • Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
  • The Casino at Marino, Dublin
  • Castletown House, Kildare
  • Barryscourt Castle, Cork
  • The Blasket Island Visitor Centre, Kerry

Don’t forget to check out related blogs about Irish history, traditions, legends and Myths: Get to Know Some of The Most Famous Irish Proverbs| Claddagh Ring: The Essence of Loyalty and Faithfulness| The History of Gaelic Ireland Throughout the Centuries| The Globally Celebrated St. Patricks Day| Insight into Irish Wakes and Superstitious Associated with it| Irish traditions: Music, Sport Folklore and more!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *