{ From Ireland, With Love: Celtic Wedding Traditions }

Posted in Wedding411 Blog, Why Green Your Wedding?

{ From Ireland, With Love: Celtic Wedding Traditions }

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.

Image Credits:

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.

True Blue

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.

Handfasting, Weddingwire

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!

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