Monday, March 21, 2011

Incorporating Irish Traditions

Photo by Mike Patterson Photography
I am writing this post in response to all the Saint Patrick's Day posts from last week to show that Irish inspiration is not limited to March 17th. 

Last year, I was very lucky to work with Shannon & Michael, an American-based couple, on both their wedding celebrations: in Ireland and then back home in the United States. The events in Ireland, including tours of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, a day trip to the Aran Islands, culminated in a civil wedding ceremony in County Galway, castle photos and a pub based reception: were an intimate affair. For their second reception, they wanted to provide their guests an opportunity to experience their favorite parts of Ireland without the commercialized themes that often permeate the US during this time of year.

There are many Irish traditions and customs that can be incorporated into a wedding that do not involve leprechauns and green beer: each couple can choose the traditions that are right for them. These are just a few of the many traditions that we discussed!


Irish brides used to carry a real horseshoe for good luck: With the points turned up so the luck will not drain out of the horseshoe. Horseshoes can be incorporated into centerpieces, decor and also the personal flowers: bouquets and boutonnieres. 


Photo by Mike Patterson Photography

Meade is a honey wine  often provided at Irish weddings because it was thought to promote virility. Folklore suggests that if Couples drank the Meade for a full month following the wedding it would protect the couple from fairies coming to spirit the bride away. Many believe this tradition is where the term "Honeymoon" was derived. Meade is widely available in the United States and could be used during toasts in lieu of champagne or sparkling wine.


Photo by Mike Patterson Photography

Ireland is well known for its intricate and beautiful Irish Lace. Brides and Grooms an easily incorporate Irish lace detailing into the decor of the Wedding. Irish linen and lace handkerchiefs can be provided to guests prior to the ceremony.


Like many Irish and Celtic traditions, the chime of bells is thought to protect the bride and keep evil spirits away; bells are also used to remind a couple of their wedding vows especially in times of conflict. Wedding Bells are a very popular gift for a newly married couple but can easily be used in a ceremony and reception. Instead of having guest throw rice or blow bubbles, hand out mini bells for everyone to ring during the recessional. Bells can also be placed on each reception table and used instead of the clinking of glasses.

Beer & Whiskey:

Photo by Mike Patterson Photography

This does not require any explanation but think about having an Irish Whiskey Bar or serving a variety of Irish Beers. You could also end the evening with an Irish Coffee Bar (providing Irish Cream liquor for those who do not favor whiskey).

Shannon & Mike chose to incorporate a few of these traditions into their reception held at the Pearl Street Brewery in Buffalo, New York. They chose a color palette of green, gray, ivory and blue which helped to evoke the countryside of Ireland. Lace was used throughout the event: on the tables, in the invitations and on the cake. Centerpieces were simple and included pieces of slate, moss and Bells of Ireland. Using an old family recipe, immediate family made individual Irish soda breads to provide as favors. A video montage of photos and video from the Ireland event was played during the cocktail hour.

Photo by LucieBelle Photography

To see more from both of these events: please take a look at the Gallery. You can also view a Featured Wedding Board on my Prepare to Wed page and see the Inspiration Board too! 

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