Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings

Celtic handfasting ceremony - Irish wedding Traditions

Updated On: March 28, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Weddings can be one of the happiest occasions of a person’s life. It is a joyous time for the bride and groom and all the family and friends who celebrate with them. Irish weddings are no different.

Throwing a grand event with beloved guests is a common way to celebrate marriage in almost every culture around the world. However, every culture has its wedding traditions and customs. Two countries may celebrate marriage through weddings but in totally different ways.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Many modern weddings incorporate Irish wedding traditions.

Around the world, Ireland is renowned for possessing multiple unique beliefs that differ from the rest of the world. We have traditions from across Europe and ancient Gaelic and Celtic customs that shape our history, culture, and daily lives.

In this article, we will introduce you to some of the weird and wonderful Irish wedding traditions and lovely Irish wedding blessings. Scroll down to read through the article, or click on one of the highlighted sections below to skip ahead!

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Irish brides often wore flower crowns.

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

Cultures have their differences, yet they always share some similarities. Today’s Irish weddings are pretty comparable to weddings around the world. The Irish wedding traditions of modern times are all about luxury.

Fancy hotels, an extensive guest list, and great food and drink have become the norm at weddings. People wear their best suits or dresses for the occasion. These are all things that many countries do. So what differentiates our weddings from those of other countries? Well, we still practice many wedding traditions that may surprise you.

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 want to add some of these customs to your big day.

Did you know many Irish wedding traditions have been recognised and practised worldwide? Many wedding-related terms have also become mainstream in Irish pop culture.

Irish wedding blessing
Irish Wedding Traditions | There are 3 main types of Irish wedding ceremonies.

The Types of Irish Wedding Ceremonies

Aside from hotels and churches, there are other places to celebrate weddings. 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 expected to have a reception afterwards.
  • Secular marriage ceremony – This is a non-religious or non-denominational legal ceremony that includes humanist and spiritualist weddings.
  • Religious marriage ceremony – Modern Ireland is a multicultural country with many different religions, customs and beliefs. Traditionally, a spiritual wedding in Ireland would refer to a Catholic wedding in a church.

Traditional Irish weddings were Catholic church ceremonies, and we will look at this type of wedding for this article.

Irish Wedding Traditions of the Past

Ireland has gone through many ages of oppression. Those who suffered the most in the past were people of the 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 who 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.

chapel - Irish wedding traditions
Irish Wedding Traditions | Many Irish people get married in a church.

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

The Specific Days for Irish Weddings

This may sound weird enough, but 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 suitable for all parties, but this was not precisely 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 everyone room 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 precede weddings.

It was not canon law, so 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 a wedding on a Saturday anyway, as they would not be working the next day, so it was never a significant issue. Still, 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.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | It was against tradition to get married in May.

Having a wedding in May was supposedly against Irish wedding traditions. Why? Well, because May is the start of the summer season, which was Beltane, a Pagan feast. It was discourteous to set a wedding during the Pagan feast.

Those beliefs have existed in Ireland for a very long time. They derive from an old marriage song that people usually sang about the 12 months of the year, which includes 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 Beltaine was a popular season for marriage, as the summer season represents maturing from spring. It was also a standard time for handfastings, which we will discuss below.

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

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Church weddings include a total mass.

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

On the wedding day, the bride starts to get ready early. The Bridesmaids attend the bride’s home or hotel and 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 authentic traditions and customs of an Irish wedding. So, let’s get familiarised with those lovely Irish wedding traditions. Previously, we have stated why the Irish wedding traditions have their 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. The bride and groom wear one traditionally, which is usually the first piece of jewellery a man will give the woman he is courting. It is generally provided as a promise ring, and the couple wear a matching pair.

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 ring’s name belongs to a fishing village in Galway where it was first produced.

Claddagh ring
Irish Wedding Traditions | Claddagh rings are still popular today.

The ring comprises three distinctive elements. Firstly, a crown symbolising loyalty. The crown then sits on top of a heart, symbolising love, and the heart is held by a pair of hands, symbolising friendship.

There are four ways to wear the ring; how you do it will tell people about 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, facing inwards or upside-down. The Claddagh ring could be used as a wedding band or worn with one.

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

Hand Fasting (Tying the Knot)

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

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

Celtic handfasting ceremony during a traditional Irish wedding
Irish Wedding Traditions | A Celtic handfasting ceremony during a traditional Irish wedding.

This may seem like a bad idea, but the story is over. 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 whether to remain married or leave their partner.

No strings were attached; it was a mutual decision, not just the man’s choice. It was pretty 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. Back then, there were no cars or public transport, which would have made travelling to individual weddings more hassle!

However, in modern times, couples practice handfasting on the same day as their wedding, usually as part of their ceremony. It symbolises 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.

Many other countries perform hand fastening, which is part of Scottish, English, Germanic and Norse traditions.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Handfasting inspired the phrase “tying the knot“.

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 an early Irish law that existed until the 17th century.

When the Penal Laws were abolished, formal marriages could take place instead, but considering the time that has passed, a lot has 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 world is familiar with, but did you know it features part of the traditional Irish wedding? The U-shaped metal pieces were 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
Irish Wedding Traditions | Lucky Horseshoe: The Luck of the Irish

At weddings, brides would walk down the aisle while holding the lucky horseshoe, which could be a part of their bouquet. The bride and the groom would take the horseshoe to their marital 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 has become popular among the Irish wedding traditions.

In Greek culture, the horseshoe did not symbolise luck. It was believed that it was a symbol of fertility. The horseshoe is considered lucky because it resembled the crescent moon and was considered a protector of people in ancient times. Interestingly, an upside-down horseshoe was seen as bad luck in Irish culture.

Wedding Bells

Bells are prevalent in Christian religions. People believe that bells are capable of driving evil spirits away. Legend says 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.

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

wedding bell Irish wedding tradition
Irish Wedding Traditions | Bells were thought to drive evil spirits away.

Cold Feet and Locked Doors

A few centuries ago, people in Ireland used to believe that Irish men got cold feet and would try to escape their commitments. More surprisingly, it was something that they’d get specifically on their 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 went through the ceremony rituals peacefully.


Toasts are essential 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 and toast the couple’s health.

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
Irish Wedding Traditions | Many people still make toasts at weddings.

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 mainly. It means the groom is already taken, and there is no going back!

The phrase goes back to an old Irish tradition 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

It seems like Irish wedding traditions are never-ending. Here is one of the more prevalent 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 livestock or cattle. When someone pays you in cash, giving them ‘luck money’ is tradition. You are not expected to give much back. It is just a sign of respect and hopefully good luck.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | It was common for brides to put a sixpence in their shoes.

Did you know the whole 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. Usually, the bride’s father puts a coin in the bride’s shoe, or the groom uses a coin as part of his cufflinks for good luck.

Blue Wedding Dresses

Did you know? The traditional colour of an Irish wedding dress was blue. Blue symbolised 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
Irish Wedding Traditions | Traditional Irish wedding dresses were blue.

The Ceilidh Dance

If you are going to have an Irish wedding, this is one of the most important 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 call it the Seige of Ennis or the Kerry Set.

The couple dances to memorable 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 even bring their wedding party along to ensure a fun dance.

Irish Wedding Traditions | Watch a traditional Irish wedding dance!

The Dowry

The dowry was once a widespread practice that Irish wedding traditions included. Dowry means a wedding gift (it means fortune); it could be money or other valuable things. Since the 19th century, brides-to-be have 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 as land or farm animals, such as cattle or sheep.

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, the parents wanted to ensure their daughter remained financially stable, regardless of her husband’s wealth or work ethic. If the daughter was widowed, the dowry came in handy to support her.

Moreover, the dowry was sometimes a gift for the newly married household. Families agreed to provide a gift for the new couple to settle at the beginning of their new life. Usually, 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 arrives.

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

Irish cattle dowry traditional Irish weddings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Many families paid dowries using livestock.

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 prevalent in Ireland’s countryside and rural areas as women gained more rights and freedoms, such as the right to continue working after marriage.

It is anon, but tradition is still common for families and guests to gift the couple money or a practical other gift ingiftsern Ireland. But it is just that, a gift, not a dowry.

The Honeymoon

People worldwide use the term honeymoon; however, do you know its truth? Seemingly, Ireland was the first country to use the term. It has become popular with newlyweds all around the world. So, what is precisely 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.”

This is because, after the wedding, the bride and groom usually drink mead 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 newlyweds a great beginning to their marriage.

Beer, Cider and Mead were all served at weddings
Irish Wedding Traditions | 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 many cultures have celebrated throughout history.

Lent, Marriage Prohibition, and Chalk Sunday

Lent is a time that Irish people took very seriously in the past; it was before Easter Sunday, lasting 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, commonly called Pancake Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is 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 lovely happy occasion during this time.

Irish Wedding Traditions | Many people get married around Christmas.

Lent’s first Sunday was a fun day. People called it Chalk Sunday, and single men were the day’s target. 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 furious by the prank.

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

The Role of a Traditional Irish Bride

Being the bride should be something extraordinary. You celebrate finding your soulmate and starting a new chapter of life. How you celebrate depends solely on your cultural and religious background. Irish brides have a lot of unique customs that wedding traditions impose 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:

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.

Irish bride Irish wedding tradition
Irish Wedding Traditions | Irish brides had many roles to fill.

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!

You are better off omitting this tradition, but it is funny. Usually, a whiskey-soaked tier of the cake 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, an idea involved the sun. If it shone on the bride, it was a sign of good luck to the couple.

Once the ceremony was over, a man should have been the first to wish the bride joy. If a woman were the one to expect first, bad luck would be around them.

Wedding Veil or Headwear

Irish brides have the same choices as other European countries regarding 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
Irish Wedding Traditions | Irish brides could wear veils, flower crowns, or other headwear.

It does not matter what she chooses. All choices are pretty lucky; however, the bride shall not wear the headwear. 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 Beltaine. It was considered terrible 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!

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. To do that, a woman would secretly give her husband a drink.

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”.

Irish wedding tradition hawthorn flowers from fairy trees
Irish Wedding Traditions | Hawthorn Flowers from Fairy Trees

Paying a Coibche

Coibche is the amount that the prospective husband has to pay. When a man proposes to a woman, he must pay the bride’s father money. As soon as the father receives the money, he divides it among the heads 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 was one of the more expensive Irish wedding traditions for grooms!

Aside from the Coibche, there is also a Tionnscar. That was a payment 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; 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 were justified grounds for separation. This was before Christian marriages were prevalent, though; divorce from Christian marriage only became legal in Ireland in 1995.

Age Does Matter

This custom was prevalent 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.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Brides and grooms had specific expectations to meet.

The Perfect Woman for Marriage

Ancient Irish wedding traditions included choosing the ‘perfect’ woman. Women 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 Irish Lace

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. Irish lace is a work of impeccable craftsmanship and beauty.

Lace is a unique fabric in Irish wedding traditions. Women in Ireland added this lovely fabric to their veil or headwear, which looked magnificent. Some people considered it too expensive or 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.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Irish lace is a very intricate fabric.

Wedding Gifts for the Bride

Usually, lace is a unique gift that Irish brides receive, as we have just discussed. It is an essential Irish wedding tradition; however, many other items exist. Irish linen is equally necessary 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 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. Couples could ring the bells to stop or resolve conflict when arguing.

A wedding in China is a modern gift given by one of the couple’s parents in the last few generations. Today, most couples in Ireland will have wedding China on display, which includes a complete set of plates, cutlery, tea cups and saucers.

This China is only used for extraordinary occasions such as baptisms, Christmas and Irish wakes or when essential guests are at the house. It is only used for significant points in an Irish person’s life.

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Fine China is often given as a wedding gift.

Burying the Statue

The Child of Prague is a statue the bride should place outside before her wedding. Some brides buried 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, so it was left outside. Sometimes, people would speed up the process with a rock! The head needed to break off cleanly at the neck to be stuck back on.

Ancient Irish Wedding Traditions

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

wheat harvest time
Irish Wedding Traditions | Getting married during a harvest was good luck.

The Good Omen

People in Ireland believed that many mundane things were 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.

However, newlyweds 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, 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 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!

Irish Wedding Traditions | 10 Irish Wedding Traditions

Traditional Irish Wedding Blessings

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

Irish Wedding Blessings in Gaeilge (The Irish Language)

  • Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo. [pronunciation: slawn-cha kwig no 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)

If you want to learn more about Irish blessings, check out our article on Traditional Irish Seanfhocail (Proverbs) for sayings for every occasion!

Irish wedding dress - Irish wedding traditions
Irish Wedding Traditions | There are many beautiful Irish blessings.

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.

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

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

Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Irish blessings are told in both English and Gaelic.

Religious Irish Wedding Blessings

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.

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 want 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!

Irish Wedding Traditions | Castles across Ireland can be rented for weddings.

Unique Irish Wedding Venues

The Irish Government now allows couples to rent national buildings for their wedding party. People love this idea because they can celebrate at unique locations and fascinating heritage sites. If you are planning a wedding, check out these excellent venues:

  • 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
Eccentric Irish Wedding Traditions and Wonderful Wedding Blessings
Irish Wedding Traditions | Cake is a focal point of some traditions.

Irish Wedding Traditions Connect Us With Ireland’s Past

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

Traditions can be followed, altered or left out, 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.

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!

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