Celtic Wedding Ceremonies

celtic wedding

A Celtic wedding ceremony incorporates the tradition of many wedding practices seen in more modern weddings today as well as the folk ways of the past. Essentially, your Celtic wedding should follow the rules of your church and state, and then you can expand on the traditions of history that follow the Celtic weddings of the past.

Celtic Wedding History

If you have read anything about the Celts, you probably already know that they celebrated weddings for several days. The Celts had a reputation for..well...partying! They loved to celebrate, and most of the wedding festivities centered around eating, dancing, and drinking. The guests were to be entertained, and this wasn't that difficult to do because most of the guests and family members lived in the same small town.

The Nine Parts of a Celtic Wedding

A true Celtic wedding might incorporate any or all of the nine parts of a ceremony. These include the following:

  1. Casting and consecration of the circle
  2. Presentation of the Bride and Groom
  3. Statement of the Bard concerning marriage
  4. Declarations of the Bride and Groom
  5. Exchange of rings
  6. Binding (or 'fasting') of hands
  7. Passing of light
  8. Thanksgiving and Oath
  9. Blessing and opening of the circle

Taken from the Pagan ceremonies of the past, fasting of hands is symbolic of couples who used to join hands over the village anvil. Today, couples link hands, forming a circle of infinity and lasting love. Their hands are typically wrapped with a cloth or rope, tying them together.

Celtic Wedding Ceremony Traditions

There are many traditions that can be used in a Celtic wedding.

  • Music played a huge role in Celtic weddings. One of the most often used instruments was a bagpipe. A piper often led the wedding procession, played during the communion, and also accompanied the recessional. A ceileigh band was commonly used at wedding receptions and is still popular today.
  • Wedding attire followed a tradition all its own in Celtic weddings of the past, and it continues to do so today. Colored bridal dresses were popular, and many men wore kilts.
  • Carrying a horseshoe for good luck has also been associated with Celtic weddings. Since a heavy horseshoe can be a bit awkward, you might want to consider stitching a horseshoe to the handfasting wrap or the inside of your dress.
  • The Grushie custom of tossing a handful of coins at the guests by the groom during the reception is always a fun tradition to do.
  • Barefoot brides and grooms are also symbolic of the couple's connection to the earth.

Planning a Celtic Wedding

As you begin planning your Celtic wedding, there are several points that you should consider.

  • Choosing a Destination-Whether you want the traditional church wedding or an outdoor wedding, you'll need to make plans and alternate plans, especially for an outside wedding.
  • Choosing a Clergyman or Preacher-Be sure you let the person you pick to perform the ceremony know that you want a Celtic wedding. Many clergymen just aren't familiar with the traditions of the Celts.
  • Music-Decide on what music you want at your wedding. If you want a true Celtic band or a piper, plan on interviewing several and have them try out for you. Ask for any tapes or CDs that they might have of their music, and spend a few days listening to their songs before you make a decision.
  • Wedding Attire-If your husband-to-be has never worn a kilt, then he might be a little self-conscious the first time he puts one on. He should rent one for a few days and wear it at home, before he commits to wearing one in the ceremony. As far as the wedding dress goes, if you want a true Celtic dress, then you may have to spend some time shopping online. It may be possible to rent your dress, too.
  • The Honeymoon-Finally, you need to choose a honeymoon destination. If you want to continue the Celtic wedding ceremony theme, then you might consider a Celtic honeymoon, also.

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Celtic Wedding Ceremonies