10 Irish Traditions for Your Wedding Day

Sláinte! In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we highlight 10 treasured traditions that will turn your wedding into an Irish-inspired occasion.



Photo: Say Bre Photography

A symbol of love, friendship and loyalty, the Claddagh was a ring Celtic mothers would pass down to their daughters as family heirlooms. Today, they make a tender alternative to an engagement ring or plain wedding band.

How they’re worn is also important: When the wearer is engaged, the ring is placed on the left hand with the heart’s point aimed towards the fingertips. Once married, the ring is turned around to alert others the wearer’s heart is taken.


Bride with floral headband

Photo: Jacquelyne Pierson

In lieu of a wedding veil, brides wore a wreath of wildflowers or wove them into their braids (an ancient symbol of luck and empowerment) with a stretch of ribbon or handmade lace.

A delicate silk floral headband, like the one this flaxen-haired bride wears, makes a lovely keepsake.

Click here to create your own DIY floral crown.

Menu with a sprig of lavender

Menu with a lavender sprig | Photo: KT Merry Photography

Bells of Ireland arrangements

Bells of Ireland floral arrangements | Photo: Pretty Stuff

They may not originate in the Emerald Isle, but Bells of Ireland and English lavender, the Irish affirm, convey love and fidelity. Make a dramatic statement by adding them to a bouquet, boutonnière, menu or table centerpiece.

Packets of lavender

Sachets of English lavender from Best of Buds Flowers and Events

As an alternative to dry rice, guests can toss scented lavender instead.


Save-the-Date stamp by Apropos Roasters via Etsy

Alert guests about your big day with this Save the Date custom stamp set ($45) from Apropos Roasters

Irish weddings were often held during ?Shrovetide,? the last few days leading up to Lent. The most popular pick was “Shrove Tuesday,” the day before Ash Wednesday. Weekend fêtes?Saturdays, especially?were widely unfavored, according to this 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.



Invitation by Bella Bee Design | Photo by Haley Sheffield

Invitation by Bella Bee Design | Photo: Haley Sheffield

U-shaped seating

Photo: Happy Confetti Photography

In Celtic cultures, it was common for women to carry a horseshoe down the aisle for good luck. Modern brides can highlight the charmed motif in everything from their invitation suite and escort cards to a U-shaped seating format.

Bells at Irish Wedding

Photo: Poppies & Me Photography

  It’s believed the soft chime of a bell will keep evil spirits at bay and remind couples of their wedding vows. At this wedding in Doonbeg, Ireland, a table of antique school bells was set up so each guest could ring the newly married couple into their reception.



Photo: Chris Isham

Seal your vows by handfasting, Ireland’s version of “tying the knot.” To display their eternal commiment, Celtic couples would have their hands ceremoniously bound with a ribbon in the shape of an infinity symbol.

Oscar de la Renta blue and white wedding dress

Before white became the “go-to” hue for modesty, brides in Ireland wore blue gowns as proof of their purity. This white sequin bird’s nest knit column gown, with a blue tulle tiered overskirt and an antique silver, moonstone and pearl brooch by Oscar de la Renta, is a “something blue” stunner.


Irish Jack Rose cocktail

Photo: Gemma Comas

Cocktail hour is a mainstay at Irish celebrations and the perfect time for making a toast. Stock your bar with staples?Guinness, Bailey’s and Jameson?and serve a whiskey-blended signature cocktail, such as an Irish Jack Rose served neat.

Click here for the drink recipe.


Naked Cake by Matchbox Kitchen

Irish wedding cakes were typically two-tiered fruitcakes, made with honey and Irish whiskey, then frosted with a sweet glaze. The bottom tier would be served to guests while the second would be saved for the christening of the couple’s first child.

This “naked” strawberry shortcake, from Matchbox Kitchens, would definitely add a dose of whimsy to your dessert table.


Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland

After the wedding, a couple’s parents would supply them with enough mead for a month (or a full cycle of the moon). A special blessing, they hoped, would arrive nine months later. This was how the term ?honeymoon? came to be coined.

Not much of a mead enthusiast? Instead, plan a trip to Ashford Castle (pictured above). Located in Cong, Ireland, this luxurious, thirteenth-century property is loaded with Irish charm and estate activities. According to Conde Nast Traveler, it is hailed as one of the world’s most romantic getaways.

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