Irish Wedding Traditions

Irish goblets

Irish traditions for a wedding are steeped in a rich history and love of heritage. If you're planning an Irish-inspired wedding, you can incorporate many of these into your wedding ceremony and reception.

Common Irish Traditions

Include one or more of these commonly seen traditions in your Irish wedding ceremony or reception.

Make Up Bells

When the Irish make up bells ring, not only are the evil spirits being kept away, but harmony is being restored to the union. A traditional Irish wedding gift, when makeup bells ring out, a truce is to be called amongst quarreling families. When rung, the couple needs to cease fighting. Add an Irish wedding bell poem to a favor tag so guests know the background behind the bells.

Lucky Horseshoes

Many Irish brides carry a horseshoe in their wedding bouquets for good luck, according to Bridal Guide. Years ago brides used to carry the real thing, but in this day and age that's a little cumbersome. This Irish wedding tradition has been reformed.

Wedding bouquet with horseshoe

Some brides wear a bracelet with a horseshoe charm or carry a lace handkerchief with a horseshoe embroidered into it. The horseshoe is always carried upside down so the luck doesn't run out.

Magic Handkerchief

The magic hanky is another wonderful Irish wedding tradition. The bride will carry or wear a handkerchief on her wedding day. After her first child is born, she will sew that handkerchief into a baby's bonnet. It is hoped that if the baby is a girl, she will take the stitches out when it's her turn to get married and carry the same handkerchief down the aisle thus repeating the process and creating a wonderful heirloom.


Instead of elaborate veils and large cascading bouquets of roses, Irish brides favor a wreath of wildflowers in their hair and bouquets of herbs and wildflowers to match.

Salt and Oatmeal

According to the Celtic-inspired website Celtic Atlanta, on the morning of the wedding, the couple will each take three spoonfuls of oatmeal and salt. This is believed to protect them against evil.


The Irish bride must be sure to keep both feet on the floor while dancing. If she doesn't, the fairies might get the upper hand.


Handfasting is when the bride and groom's wrists are tied together with a ceremonial ribbon. This tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Today, some Irish couples still choose to incorporate handfasting into their wedding ceremony. Special craft websites like Gaia's Handfasting Cords create custom handfasting cords for Irish couples.

Irish wedding cake image courtesy of Erin Gardner, Wild Orchid Baking Co.

Wedding Meal

According to Irish site the traditional Irish wedding meal may consist of salmon or colcannon, a potato dish. Offer an Irish wedding toast to complete the meal.

Claddaugh Rings

The wearing of Claddaugh Irish rings are probably the most popular Irish wedding rituals. When worn on the right hand, the ring indicates that love is "being considered." When the ring is placed on the left hand the wearer is married or has been handfasted. Shop Claddaugh Rings for hundreds of ring styles if you are interesting in incorporating this aspect inro your wedding.

Irish Blessings

Lollysmith has dozens of Irish wedding blessings, toasts and poems perfect for being read at the wedding or reception. Couples may write Irish blessings for one another or ask the officiating minister to a read a blessing out loud.

Make It Your Own

While there is a lot of cultural pride involved in Irish weddings, it doesn't mean you can't tweak tradition to suit your needs. Implement your favorite traditions and don't be shy about creating your own. Pay homage to tradition with inspired wedding traditions.

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Irish Wedding Traditions