There is an Irish wedding-related proverb that states: "Marry in May and rue the day" and finishes with: "Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man."
Whether you choose to believe this superstition or not, no matter what month you marry in, you can recreate an "authentic" Celtic wedding, complete with traditions that Irish couples have practiced for thousands of years.
Here's IrishCentral's complete guide:
WEAR: A Claddagh ring, which was traditionally worn as a betrothal or engagement ring when the crown is worn nearest to knuckle and as a wedding ring when crown was worn nearest to nail. The meaning of the design of the ring is as follows: the heart represents love, the crown represents loyalty and the hands represent friendship. Click here to shop for Claddagh and Celtic wedding rings online (put in specific link to Shop section).
ADD: A lucky horseshoe to your bouquet, turned up for good luck. The horseshoe can be made of porcelain or silk. Alternatively, you can wear a fabric horseshoe around your wrist.
BUY: A marriage bell. It's an old Irish tradition to give a bell at the time of a wedding. The bell affords good luck and if at any time during the marriage there is "discord," the ancient Irish remedy for lovers' quarrels is to ring this special bell and break the spirit of discontent and renew again the spirit of love. Buy one for your new home together, or, at your wedding ceremony, have your greeters hand out tiny bells to your guests to ring as you process. Guests could also ring their little bells at the reception in lieu of clinking glasses.
INCORPORATE: Shoes - a sign of fertility. Begin your new journey wearing something familiar, and don old shoes at your wedding. If you'd rather your shoes be your "something new," tie several pairs of really old shoes to the back of your car instead of tin cans.
PLAY: "The Irish Wedding Song," a favorite at Irish and Irish American weddings. Listen to Andy Cooney's version (click on "The Irish Wedding Song" under his "Isle of Hope Isle of Tears" album in the Discography section here.
HIRE: Irish dancers to perform at the reception.
EAT: Irish Wedding Cake. A custom dating back to ancient Rome to signify your willingness to share all things, the bride and groom must share a piece of cake. The rest of the cake was crumbled over the bride's head to guarantee that she would produce many children. Guest scramble for "lucky" crumbs that fell to the floor. You can go with this tradition, but if cake crumbs in professionally-styled hair is not appealing to the bride, you can stick with the evolved tradition of cutting the cake in slices... Here's a great Irish Wedding Cake recipe.
DRINK: Bunratty Meade, a honey wine drank in courts in ancient Ireland. The wine is said to bring virility and fertility, and it was a custom for the bride and groom to drink it for one full moon after their wedding - hence the term "honeymoon." Your wedding guests can toast you with a glass of meade as you depart the ceremony for your honeymoon.
TOAST: The person who introduced you. This is done to honor Ireland's matchmaking tradition.
GIVE: Harvest knots as favors. To signify devotion, young people in Ireland would give harvest knots made of straw to their love interest, worn on a man's lapel or in a woman's hair. Tie harvest knots out of straw (here's a step-by-step guide: http://www.mrsmurphys.com/Irish%20Wedding%20Traditions.htm) and decorate them with small flowers or bells to give to guests as favors. Attach a scroll explaining the significance.
INVITE: The "strawboys" to your wedding reception. A peculiar Irish wedding tradition was for youths wearing cone-shaped straw hats and masks to arrive at the wedding dance where the leader claimed the right to dance with the bride. They wore straw suits resembling many-layered hula skirts, or white shirts and petticoats decorated with colored ribbons. At the party's end, the strawboys burned their costumes in a huge bonfire. Reenact this scene for a truly traditional Irish wedding.
RECEIVE: traditional Irish gifts. On your registry, be sure to ask for the following: salt and pepper shakers, so your home will never be without food, wine glasses or tall toasting flutes, so your home will never be without plenty to drink and a candlestick holder, so your home will always have light.
Orginally published 2009.
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