We have a lot to learn from our ancestors and their ancient wedding traditions. Some of these rituals and practices have carried over into present day, remaining true to their roots or taking on new form. Unfortunately many of these sacred wedding symbols have been lost with time.
It's important for a Green Bride to separate the pressures of modern day wedding planning and remember the most important parts of a wedding: family, tradition and memories. Many of the traditions mentioned below were started in ancient times and are inspired by the Irish countryside and the Irish people's direct relationship with the earth.
- Vintage Inspired Irish Shoot by Sean Curtin Photography on Bridal Musings
- Southern Tree Wedding Invitations (Creme de Lait), ForeverFiances'
- Jasmine Garden Wreath, Blooming Fig by Sophia
- Plate Setting with Shamrocks, eHow
- Belleek Shamrock Cufflinks, Wayfair
- Gingham Clip On Bowtie, Admiral Dandyisms
- Handfasting Ritual, Style Me Pretty
- Celtic Engagement Rings, Weddzilla
In today's world, these traditions would be considered eco-friendly, although in the past everything was done with nature in mind. These rituals included outdoor weddings, the gathering of wildflowers and herbs for a bouquet or floral crown, saving the wedding cake for the first baby's baptism, using all natural and local ingredients and seeing the couple off with ringing bells.
In Ireland, blue is considered to be a very important color.
Blue Tulle Gown, BrassPaperClip.typepad.com
It's not always all about Kelly green, in fact green was considered unlucky and could entice malicious fairies.
Lace Mermaid Gown, Pure Magnolia
Blue symbolized purity in ancient times before white became the universal symbol for virginity.
Light Blue Wedding Dress, AvaFelt
Turn Your Ring Towards Your Heart
Claddagh rings were originally worn in the town of Claddagh, in Galway, Ireland. Their traditional purpose at that time was solely to show marital status.
Gold Claddagh Ring, Wikipedia
If you were courting, the ring would be worn on the right hand with the heart facing outwards to show that your heart had not yet been taken.
Box Elder Band Set, Jewelry by Johan
Once engaged, the heart was turned inward toward your own heart to show that you were now taken. Once married, the ring was moved to the left hand with the heart still facing toward you as a sign of commitment and love.
Celtic Engagement Rings, Weddzilla
Beautiful Be-Ribboned Braids
To prepare for their wedding day, many Irish brides braided their hair.
Messy Ribbon Braid, autymnbuzz.net
The braids were adorned with ribbon and lace woven throughout.
Floral Braid, Green Wedding Shoes
Braided hair is an ancient Irish symbol of feminine power and luck.
Dahlia Silk Flower Hair Clip, Celia Grace
Another popular style was the flower crown...
Modern Braid, Emmaline Bride
Floral Crowns are the New Veil
Many Irish brides wore a wreath of local and sustainable wildflowers in their hair instead of a veil and carried a wildflower bouquet with herbs to match.
How much greener can you get?!
Floral Crowns, weheartit
English lavender was a popular flower for the bride's bouquet, symbolizing love, loyalty, devotion and luck.
Jasmine Garden Wreath, Blooming Fig by Sophia
Some Irish brides who aren't worried about offending fairies would carry green bells of Ireland flowers in their bouquets.
Fairymaid Flower Wreath, Blooming Fig by Sophia
Handfasting Ceremony = Tie the Knot
Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition where the partners hold hands with their wrists crossed.
Modern Day Handfasting Ritual, Unitedwithlove
A ribbon is wound around the top of one wrist and under and around the other wrist, creating the infinity symbol.
Handfasting Style Shoot, Greenweddingshoes
This practice eventually became known as "Tying the Knot," hence the modern day usage.
Don't Waste the Whiskey Cake
The top tier of the wedding cake was traditionally whiskey cake and was saved until the couple's first born child was baptized and eaten on that day.
After the ceremony, if a bride's mother-in-law broke a piece of cake over the bride's head, they would be friends for life.
Traditional Claddagh Cake Topper, MagicalDay
The only downside to the traditional Irish wedding? Chances are they didn't serve cupcakes!
"Irish Hug" Cupcake, Swett & Tipsy, Cupcakes and Alcohol, Miami Times
Ring My Bell
Giving a "Make-up Bell" as a wedding gift is another long standing Irish tradition.
Bell Bracelet, Green Wedding Shoes
Bells were thought to ward off evil spirits and were also used if the married couple had an argument. One of the newlyweds would ring the bell as a way to end the fight and make a truce, reminding them of their wedding vows.
Belleek Claddagn Make-Up Bell, alittleirishtoo
In more modern times, wedding guests have also been known to ring bells at the departing newlyweds, which is a great eco-friendly alternative to throwing rice or blowing bubbles.
Vacation Gold Bells Necklace, Silent Roses
Learn more about your heritage and take some eco-friendly tips from your ancestors, no matter where you come from!
Find more eco-friendly "Day Of" Wedding Products in our Wedding Shop!