Beautiful Irish Wedding Traditions from the Past
Many of the beautiful Irish traditions have fallen by the wayside through the decades and yet some have managed to survive and are still honored today. The following are some of the more beautiful Irish wedding traditions that have withstood the test of time.
The Claddagh ring
Steeped in tradition and still enjoying a certain degree of popularity the Claddagh ring was a token that a young man would give to his girlfriend. Today it is sometimes worn by a bride as a wedding ring. How the ring is worn is significant though, and tells any hopeful young men that marital status of the woman. When worn on the right hand with the ring facing outwards indicates that the woman is single and available. When turned to face inwards on the right hand the woman is in a relationship and therefore ‘not available’. Once a woman and her beau become engaged the Claddagh ring is moved from the right hand to the left hand with the ring facing outwards to indicate that she is engaged. Once the couple is married the ring is then turned inwards on the left hand. In this way the ring is not just an attractive ring to wear but also makes it easy for men to quickly assess a woman’s availability.
Blue Bridal gown
In complete contrast to the chosen white wedding gown a bride would wear today, Irish brides were known to wear blue. Just as the white gown has traditionally conveyed a bride’s virginity and chastity, so too did the blue gown worn many years ago. This tradition has been all but lost and it is extremely difficult to find a ready-to-wear wedding gown in blue. A bride wishing to honor an old Irish tradition and glide up the aisle in blue would likely have to have a gown custom made.
Horseshoe for good luck
Recognized in many parts of the world as being the symbol of good luck, the horseshoe was part of an Irish bride’s ensemble. This is another tradition that seems to have been dropped along the way, and it is possibly due to the bride not wishing to carry a piece of metal with her bouquet. For those who still wish to carry the symbol in some form it is possible to have a small porcelain or silver horseshoe tucked into a bouquet, or a satin-covered cardboard version with a ribbon that allows it to be worn on the wrist or arm.
Irish tradition called for bells to be rung by guests at a wedding ceremony to ward off evil spirits. Today, although a wonderful tradition, it simply is not practical to have bells rung while the couple exchanges vows. A bride who wishes to honor this old Irish tradition may choose to wear a tiny set of wedding bells on a bracelet or necklace. Bells are sometimes added to a bride’s bouquet and are often a decorative touch on wedding invitations, the wedding cake and table settings.
Tying of the Knot
This is a common term in today’s wedding language but few know that it has its roots in an old Irish tradition that actually involved tying a knot, much as the exchanging of wedding rings is done today. When the ceremony reaches the point where the two are joined in matrimony a rope, cord or ribbon is tied around the couple’s clasped hands, signifying that they are now tied together in marriage and that they willingly agree to spend the rest of their lives together. The Scots are also known for this tradition, and it is thought that at one time it was quite a widespread tradition in Eastern Europe.