Irish Wedding Customs

Irish customs and traditions date back close to 2,000 years, and feature incredibly elaborate rites and customs. Many of the traditional Irish wedding celebrations and traditions come from medieval times and earlier, when weddings were not only deeply personal events but also elaborate social occasions that included entire villages and shires. Coming out of the island nation's long running beliefs in the supernatural and deeply religious spirituality, many of the ceremonies and superstitions practiced by the Irish people are finding new popularity among modern audiences. Young couples eager to connect with their heritage are finding Irish weddings both charming and inexpensive.

The following is just a small list of Irish traditions for brides to consider. They’re presented in no particular order, except to give “meat and potatoes” for thought:

- 'Marry in May and Rue The Day'; 'Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man': Irish folklore recommends getting married in early spring, while the countryside is just becoming green and fertile after the long winter and early spring rains.

- Have your fiancé over to cook a goose right before the wedding. It’s considered good luck and a fine way to begin your lives together. It’s also where the phrase, “his goose is cooked” comes from.

- Carry a lucky horseshoe down the aisle. Horseshoes are an old “lucky charm” and bringing one to the altar is considered a powerful way to bring good fortune to the new marriage.

- Bunratty Meade is an old recipe for honey wine that’s drunk at the reception to promote male virility. It’s a sweet, tangy beer-like beverage with a charming afterglow, and one of the oldest drinks in Ireland. Couples drank it regularly for a full month after the wedding, leading to the married couple’s first weeks together becoming known as the “honeymoon.”

- Ring a Bell! Giving bells as gifts is an old tradition, and particularly by the guests during the wedding reception. Meant to scare evil spirits away from the ceremony, it’s now simply a way to commemorate that special moment.

- Include an Irish prayer or proverb into the wedding ceremony, either by using vows, the program, specially personalized favors, or place settings.

- Carry wildflowers, either as a bouquet or in your hair as a headpiece. There is another, Welsh tradition of giving each bridesmaid a sprig of myrtle to plant. If the sprig grows, it means the bridesmaid will marry within the year.

- The couple should eat three mouthfuls of salt and oatmeal at the reception, as protection against the Evil Eye. Also, a dancing bride should never take both feet off the floor, to prevent fairies from getting the upper hand.

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