Make sure the luck of the Irish is on your side when you head for the altar with these ancient Irish wedding traditions and superstitions.
Every week, after avoiding their soon-to-be-husbands spotting them in their wedding gown, a stream of beautiful brides step down the aisle with their objects old, new, borrowed, and blue.
Yes, modern-day weddings are full of superstitions and traditions, but compared to old Irish wedding day customs, they're a walk in the park.
From avoiding being whisked away by fairies to choosing the correct person to place the veil on her head, the traditional Irish bride certainly had her work but out for her.
We look at some of the strangest old Irish wedding traditions through the years.
Irish brides carried a real horseshoe with them on their wedding day for good luck.
The Irish hanky
A lucky Irish Hanky carried by the bride on her wedding day also promoted good luck. The hanky was then turned into a christening bonnet for the first baby with just a few stitches.
Irish brides would often wear a wreath of wildflowers in their hair as well as carrying them in bouquets.
Avoiding the evil eye
It was a tradition for the bride and groom to eat salt and oatmeal at the start of the wedding reception to protect them from the evil eye.
Escaping the fairies
While dancing, the bride was prohibited to take both feet off the floor in case the fairies came and swept her away. Apparently, fairies love brides!
Child of Prague
To prevent rain on the day of the wedding, the bride’s family put a statue of the Child of Prague outside the church before the ceremony.
Good luck vs bad luck
If the bride and groom heard a cuckoo on the day of their wedding, it meant good luck for life. If the newlywed couple met a funeral on the road, it meant bad luck for the couple for life.
The original confetti
Upon leaving the church a wedding guest would throw an old shoe over the bride’s head so she would have good luck.
After the wedding ceremony, the bride’s mother-in-law would break a piece of wedding cake over the bride’s head as she entered the house so both women would be friends for life.
Placing the veil
It was important that a happily married woman put the veil on the head of the bride so she would be happy in her marriage for life.
It was said that if a bride looked directly at the sun when she was leaving her wedding that her children would be beautiful.
The groom often tossed a handful of coins into the crowd after the wedding ceremony. It was believed to bring good luck to the newly-married couple.
The couple drank mead, a honey wine, on their wedding day to promote virility, fertility and to keep the fairies away. The month following the wedding day, the couple would continue to drink the mead and this is apparently where the word honeymoon comes from.
* Originally published in October 2014, last updated in February 2022.