Irish Wedding Traditions & Superstitions....
1. Traditionally in Ireland, brides wore blue dresses, as it was seen as the color of true love and purity. However, overtime this tradition faded and the white dress became popular. The “something blue” would still be incorporated into the brides’ accessories – be it on a garter, tied around the bouquet or sewn into the underneath of the dress. Green - although a symbol of Ireland was always deemed to be unlucky – although this superstition has largely have died out in recent times.
2. Horseshoe – many Irish brides’ carry a horseshoe in their bouquet or perhaps as part of a charm on a bracelet always pointing up so that the good luck does not run out! It is thought that this tradition came from Celtic times when a horseshoe was thought to be lucky and even luckier when cast in the scared metal of iron.
3. Tying the knot – an expression thought to have come from the tradition when during the wedding ceremony the happy couple would hold hands together – right to right hand, left to left with their their wrists crossed and bound with a rope or ribbon to symbolize their commitment to spend their lives together. This tradition has seen a resurgence in recent years and is one that I personally really like!
4. Bell ringing was thought to ward off evil spirits and so guests were handed small bells to ring during the ceremony – I am guessing at appropriate interludes rather than randomly! Today, many brides incorporate a small bell on their dress or jewellery and perhaps the ringing of the church bells after the wedding ceremony is part of this old tradition.
5. Ring warming. The wedding rings are passed around the congregation at the beginning of the ceremony, with each guest holding the ring for a couple of seconds before saying a silent prayer, wish or blessing for the couple and then passing it on. The idea is that the rings are thus infused with much love, luck and happiness from the guests on that day and every day of the marriage. Lovely!
6. Irish brides used to braid their hair as it was thought to be a symbol of luck and femininity which would then be brought to their wedding. Hair for the groom was a slightly different affair as men grew their beard for the wedding which was also meant to bring the couple luck in their new lives together
7. Days and months also brought superstition – some were deemed luckier than others. Below are two verses about the best days and months to wed!
“Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, and Saturday no day at all.”
Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind, and true.
When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man.
Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you'll go.
They who in July do wed, must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see.
Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember.
When December's rain fall fast, marry and true love will last."
8. Handkerchief’s were used by the bride to symbolize fertility and the bride would have it with her throughout the day – perhaps tucked into her bouquet or dress. Afterwards, on the birth of the couple’s first child, the handkerchief would then be used as part of the Christening dress or bonnet.
9. To ward off evil spirits, whiskey was sprinkled on the ground of the reception, so that the couple would be safe from malevolent spirits during the course of the marriage.
10. If perhaps , you have not yet met your one true love, try the old tradition of taking a piece of wedding cake, passing it through the bride’s wedding ring before taking it home and putting it under your pillow as that night your future partner (should) appear to you in a dream!
Thanks to Niamh Allabyrne for compiling this list.