Irish Wedding Traditions
Many nationalities have their own wedding traditions. The people of Ireland have their own distinct traditions that make it easy to distinguish an Irish wedding from weddings of other cultures. The traditions include Claddagh rings, superstitions, a special toast, as well as kilts and bagpipes.
The Claddagh ring has a special meaning in a traditional Irish wedding. The Claddagh ring is a traditional ring that looks like two hands holding a heart that is adorned with a crown. Tradition holds that Claddagh rings be passed down from mother to daughter. As these rings are meant to be passed down for generations, it is not considered proper to buy a Claddagh ring for yourself. Yet another tradition involving the Claddagh ring relates to how it is worn. An engaged or married woman or man would wear the ring with the tips of the crown facing towards their fingertips. In this position the ring is considered to be turned inward and symbolizes that the heart of the person wearing the ring is taken. A man or woman who is not involved in a romantic relationship would wear the ring with the tips of the crown facing towards their wrist. This outward position of the ring symbolizes that the person wearing the ring is reaching out for companionship.
Traditional Irish weddings also adhere to several unusual superstitions in an attempt to ward off bad luck. A rain or overcast day might be cause for concern at a traditional Irish wedding. This is because one of the strange superstitions is that the sun must shine directly on the bride to ensure that the couple will be blessed with good luck. Birds also factor into some of the traditional Irish superstitions. Hearing a cuckoo bird or seeing three magpies are also considered to be signs of luck for the couple. Yet another final superstition relates to offering well wishes to the bride. At a traditional Irish wedding it is considered bad luck for a woman to be the first one to congratulate the bride and wish her well. For this reason a close friend or relative of the groom will also take it upon himself to ensure that he is the first to congratulate the bride.
A traditional Irish wedding usually concludes with a toast that has been recited for many years. At the end of the reception the guests will gather around the couple for the final toast. The couple will begin the toast by saying, “Friends and relatives, so fond and dear, ’tis our greatest pleasure to have you here. When many years this day has passed, fondest memories will always last. So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask God’s blessing in your hour of need.” The guests then respond to the toast with the following answer: “On this special day, our wish to you, the goodness of the old, the best of the new. God bless you both who drink this mead, may it always fill your every need.” “Friends and relatives, so fond and dear, ’tis our greatest pleasure to have you here. When many years this day has passed, fondest memories will always last. So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask God’s blessing in your hour of need.” The guests respond: “On this special day, our wish to you, the goodness of the old, the best of the new. God bless you both who drink this mead, may it always fill your every need.”
Of course, no traditional Irish wedding complete without the presence of bagpipes and kilts. It is customary for friends and family members to bring along their bagpipes and pipe the couple into the mass and into the reception. They may also continue to charm the guests with an assortment of bagpipe tunes suitable for dancing. Not only do friends and family members enjoy performing for the couple and the other guests but they also enjoy taking the opportunity to dress in traditional kilts for the occasion. The look and sound of the bagpipers creates the feel of a truly traditional Irish wedding.
A traditional Irish wedding is a festive occasion filled with good friends, food and music. In addition to these traditional elements the Irish people also have traditions regarding the Claddagh ring and standardized toasts that are used to wish the new couple well. Superstitions also play a role in a traditional Irish wedding. Many of the traditional superstitions relate to objects or occurrences that are thought to bring the couple good luck.