March is here, which means that people around the world are gearing up to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th. But if you're of Irish descent, you don’t need to limit showing off your heritage to just once a year. In fact, your wedding day is the perfect time to showcase some of your favorite Irish traditions—and maybe one or two that you might not know about (yet!). Here are a few to consider while planning your big day.
Getting Married on a Weekday
Believe it or not, it's considered bad luck to get married on a Saturday. In fact, traditional Irish weddings took place during "Shrovetide," or the days right before Lent. The most popular day to say I do is "Shrove Tuesday," which is the day before Ash Wednesday. And according to a Celtic folk rhyme: "Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, and Saturday no luck at all."
The Exchange of Claddagh Rings
The Irish Claddagh features two hands around a heart with a crown over the heart. It can serve as an engagement ring is placed on the left hand with the bottom of the heart pointing away from the wrist, and then as a wedding ring when the point of the heart faces inward towards the heart of the recipient.
Adding Celtic Embellishments to the Dress
Some Irish brides choose to have embellishments such as shamrocks, knots, and crosses embroidered onto their wedding gown or veil.
Grooms in Irish Kilts
As for the groom, many don a formal Irish kilt ensemble, which includes a Brian Boru jacket, a white tuxedo shirt with bow tie, knee socks with ribbons to match the color of their tartan, a Sporran with shamrock detailing, and Ghillie Brogue shoes. Believe it or not, this ensemble is more popular in the United States than in Ireland!
Traditional Irish Music
The Irish Uilleann Pipes are smaller than Scottish bagpipes, so they can be used inside the church. The piper—dressed in a kilt, of course—can play as guests arrive for the ceremony, as well as lead the couple out after they say I do. If you want to go a different route, hire someone to play the Celtic harp, which is the national symbol of Ireland.
The Ringing of the Bells
Ringing a bell is an Irish tradition believed to ward off evil spirits, which is why church bells are often rung after a wedding ceremony. In lieu of throwing rose petals or blowing bubbles, couples can also hand out tiny bells for guests to ring as the newlyweds exit the church. They can also use bells in various décor options throughout the day, whether it’s at the escort card table or as a favor to take home. Some Irish brides even carry small bells in their bouquets.
The Art of Handfasting
Couples can literally tie the knot with this ancient Celtic tradition. During the ceremony, the couple crosses their own hands over one another, right hand to right hand and left hand to left hand, holding on to each other. The officiant then wraps the ribbon around their wrists and hands while reciting vows to love and commit to one another.
Hiring Irish Dancers
Have an Irish dancing troupe entertain guests during the cocktail hour or even as they eat dinner.
Walking Down the Aisle with a White Handkerchief
Many Irish brides will carry a white linen handkerchief, embroidered with shamrocks, down the aisle with them for good luck.
Showing off Horseshoes
This is another symbol of good luck for the Irish. While some brides will work the design into the bouquets, you can also show it off in everything from your wedding stationery to your cake design.
Hero photo courtesy of Lauren Gabrielle Photography