Irish Wedding Ceremonies Then and Now

Updated August 6, 2018
Wedding ceremony handfasting

If you're planning a destination wedding to Ireland, have Irish heritage, or simply want to incorporate some Irish traditions into your wedding, it's important to know what's authentic. Incorporate all or a few ideas into your Irish wedding.

Select the Wedding Date

While brides and grooms in the U.S. might select a Saturday night in June for their nuptials, you'll want to reconsider when planning your Irish wedding if you want historical accuracy.

Traditional Times

Martha Stewart Weddings shares that Saturday was traditionally considered unlucky, and most brides will have ceremonies prior to Lent. Bridal Guide also mentions that May through August were the least popular times for a wedding and refers to an ancient verse quoting the busy time of year.

Modern Wedding Dates

Today, however, brides and grooms frequently wed in August on a Friday or Saturday.

Irish Weddings and Religion

Starting in the 1500s, Catholics in Ireland often had problems hosting a religious wedding ceremony due to laws forbidding priests from performing Catholic wedding ceremonies, according to The Information about Ireland Site. Over time, however, the laws loosened, and the Catholic religion did become accepted.

Religious and Civil Ceremonies Today

Today, couples can plan a Catholic, civil, or humanist ceremony; if they are a member of The Church of Ireland or another Protestant designation, they can also have a ceremony in that religious tradition. Regardless of whether you're getting married in any sort of religious setting or not, your officiant must be on the Register of Solemnisers.

Other Ceremony Inclusions

At an Irish wedding ceremony, brides and grooms would often incorporate traditional Celtic wedding rituals in addition to Irish vows and blessings.

Vows, Blessings and Readings

Irish weddings may include a combination of Irish, Celtic, and Gaelic vows and blessings. If the ceremony was religious, they often came from the Bible or other religious text. Traditional blessings and vows add a historical air to a contemporary ceremony.

Handfasting Ritual

Handfasting involves wrapping the bride and groom's hands together as a symbol of love and unity. Then, a knot is tied in the ribbon to symbolize the marriage. Handfasting has recently experienced a resurgence in popularity as humanist ceremonies become more popular.

Exchange of Rings

The ring of choice was historically the Claddagh ring, and it continues to be a popular choice for Irish weddings today. Marry Me Ireland notes that the ring should be worn facing inward after the ceremony is complete.


Traditional music might involve a harp or bagpipes, according to Bridal Guide. Pipes are another popular choice for brides and grooms who want to instill Irish heritage into their music selections, notes Marry Me Ireland. Irish fiddle music is another option.

Colors and Flowers

Although green is frequently associated with Ireland today, and dusty pink may be an up-and-coming color popular for modern Irish weddings, historically, the colors often used were blue, white or tan according to a traditional Irish poem. Flowers used in ceremonies both then and now could be a mix of wildflowers, lavender, and Belles of Ireland. Modern brides may carry kissing balls or wear Belles of Ireland in a head wreath in lieu of a veil.

Ceremonies With Locked Doors

Both hitched and ConnollyCove note that in the past, it was assumed grooms might back out. Irish guests would lock the door so he couldn't escape the ceremony. This could be a fun and silly addition to a modern wedding if the groom is game.

Bride and Groom's Attire

Historically, brides donned Irish wedding dresses in blue, although today they are frequently white or ivory. Wedding dresses with color are a good compromise between the new and old if the bride wants something to bridge the two eras. The groom could don a kilt or morning suit for a daytime wedding or, in a more modern fashion, a formal suit for an evening wedding.

Plan Your Irish Ceremony

If you're getting married in Ireland or simply planning a wedding with some Irish traditions, you will want to consider for your ceremony. They will be a lovely addition to your nuptials.

Irish Wedding Ceremonies Then and Now