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Irish Wedding Traditions

The Irish never did anything half heartedly and our weddings are very similar. Throughout the years, Ireland developed beautiful family traditions that would be passed on from generation to generation. Many people still use these on their wedding day and it seems that huge amounts of American Irish incorporate them into their day as a way of celebrating their Irish heritage. These beautiful traditions are romantic and sentimental and really make them so perfect to add to your day. We will run down the list of the easiest thing to add to your day and we will then move to the harder less used items and then the ones that are not used at all anymore.

Child Of Prague

This tradition has been passed down through the ages and is still a hugely popular among Irish Catholics who marry in a Church. A statue called the Child Of Prague is left outside the bride's door the night before the wedding. Leaving the statue outside is said to bring sunshine to the couple on their wedding day. A tradition that stemmed from the notoriously rainy weather that gives Ireland its green fields & it's nickname “ The Emerald Isle”, - The Child Of Prague is of course the infant Jesus, so it has the power to make the sun shine for anyone. While it is wildly practiced in Ireland, anyone can begin the tradition in their own family all they need is a bit of faith.

The Penny For The Shoe

We have all heard the saying “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, right? In Ireland the saying was “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a penny for her shoe”. A penny in the bride's shoe was said to attract good fortune to the couple as they begin their journey as husband and wife. An easy tradition of a bride and groom anywhere to incorporate into their wedding day. Often, it is the groom who will give the penny to his bride.

The Magic Handkerchief

A handkerchief was passed down from mother to daughter on the wedding day. A bride with a handkerchief with her was said to bless the couple with children and was a symbol of fertility. The handkerchief was usually wrapped around the bouquet or tucked neatly in the centre of the bouquet. The bride kept the handkerchief and passed it on to her daughter on her wedding day. This was most often the something old as well. It was later used as a bonnet for the couples first child. Such a wonderful tradition that is still seen in Ireland.

The Claddagh ring

Traditionally, the Claddagh ring is gifted from a mother to a daughter in her teens. The wearer can let the world know that she is single, engaged or married by how she is wearing the ring. Once married, the ring is moved to the left hand with the heart faced inwards letting the world know that she is a married woman. This tradition has continued down through the generations and is still seen in Ireland. However, a lot of women opt to take off their old Claddagh ring and replace it for a Claddagh engagement ring or a Claddagh wedding band. This tradition has certainly taken off in other countries, especially the United States as men search for the most beautiful Claddagh engagement rings for their better halfs. It is the perfect way to show your Irish heritage as almost everyone knows what the Claddagh ring is and how it came to be.

Irish Wedding Cake

Traditionally, an Irish wedding cake is a fruit cake with icing. It is a very simple design and it is very rich. This tradition is dying as more people opt for cakes such as a chocolate cake or sponge cake. The cake was popular as many Irish men and woman know how to make the cake and for this reason the couple could save on costs and a relative would make the cake. That being said, even if the fruit cake is swapped out for a different cake the traditional fruitcake and icing is still served at the wedding. It is a separate smaller cake that is made or ordered and small portions are sent out to the whole party. A fruit cake is definetly a lovely way to add some authentic Irish heritage to your wedding day.

Vilean Pipes

Vilean pipes are very much associated with Ireland. Often, people confuse them with the bagpipes (which is from Scotland). These pipes have a wonderful soft sound and a beautiful part of Irish wedding ceremonies. While you might not hear them at every wedding, you will hear them at many. If you are lucky enough to find someone who plays this beautiful instrument and you want to incorporate your Irishness into your wedding, this will have everyone's heart melting at the ceremony and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful Irish traditions.

Locking the church door

The Irish are known for being very funny and Irish women know how to take a joke and so it's no surprise that often family members belonging to the bride will lock the church door to stop the groom from escaping if he gets cold feet. We only suggest doing this is your family in general is very fun and full of banter and the bride is chill. It is one that could go very wrong very fast.

Irish Dancers

Irish dancing has always been a huge part of Irish culture. Traditionally, Irish weddings would have Irish music and Irish dancers would perform for wedding guests. Nowadays, many Irish couples still hire out Irish dancers for their wedding day. A lovely tradition that has stood the test of time. Hire Irish dancers on your wedding day and make sure that you learn a few steps yourself and join in.


The horse shoe was an old Irish superstitious tradition of fortune and good luck. A bride would attach it to her gown and it was something that was taken seriously. Funnily, this is a dead tradition in Ireland, but Irish abroad have adopted it into their own weddings. It is often seen in the bouquet or the decor and is still going strong in other parts of the world. Hopefully, the people of Ireland will take up this wonderful tradition again.

Below are old traditions that are not in use as much or at all now, especially the dowry (we hope!).

Blue Wedding Dress

The colour blue was once the colour that symbolised purity and was worn by Irish brides on her big day. Nowadays, Irish brides tend to opt for the white wedding dress which is now seen as the colour of purity.

Eating Salt

Family members would insist that the bride and groom eat porridge with salt the morning of the wedding to ward off evil spirits. An old superstition that eating salt would keep evil from entering your home sparked the tradition. Today, this tradition is almost unheard-of across Ireland.

Hand fasting - Tying the Knot

The phrase “Tying the Knot” is widely used all over the world. This phrase came from the Celtic era from a beautiful tradition. The couple would tie a knot around both thier hands to signify their intention to get married. Hand fasting was an engagement and a commitment to your partner. This tradition is not done in Ireland as much now and is very rare. It has been adopted by people from other countries and is used, but done during vows between couples. This type of symbolism is usually done in state registered weddings as religious ceremonies do not offer it, unless it is part of their traitional ceremony.

The Dowry

In old Ireland, marriages were often arranged by the head of the house or a male member of the family. A dowry refers to an agreement of a fortune such as land, farm animals or money, for accepting one's daughter for marriage. The marriages were arranged and often the bride would not meet her husband to be until they were standing at the altar. The dowry was the most important part of the wedding and a great dowry signaled a great catch. Many men in families would travel to other countries in search of work to save enough money to raise a good dowry for their daughters, so they could marry into a good family. Thankfully, this tradition is no longer important when planning a wedding in Ireland.

Cooking The Goose

Customarily, the groom's family would cook a Goose before the wedding. Once the Goose was cooked, the groom could not change his mind about getting married and must honour his commitment to marry. Today, the saying “eatin' the Goose” is often used in Dublin when celebrating a wedding. Unfortunately, this is not something that is done in Ireland anymore.

Check out our Authentic Claddagh Collection, our Claddagh Engagement rings and our Claddagh Wedding bands. All made in Galway - home to the Claddagh and shipped worldwide. Looking for a matching Claddagh Wedding band to go with your Engagement ring? We have you covered with our beautiful Sway bands and wedding sets.

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