Exploring Wedding Traditions from Around the World - Ireland

Exploring Wedding Traditions from Around the World - Ireland

Exploring Wedding Traditions


We love exploring wedding traditions.  An Irish Wedding is a lovely thing indeed.  While you may not want to incorporate every Irish tradition, you can at least add some lovely traditions and Irish Wedding Customs from the Gaelic history of Ireland to your wedding day.

Irish history is veneered with centuries of oppression that was particularly harsh in respect of the Catholic religion. The 16th Century Penal Laws prevented Priests from saying Mass as well as conducting the Sacrament of Marriage. If a priest was caught marrying a couple, the punishments were extremely severe.  The last of the Penal Laws was not repealed in Ireland until 1920.

Given this background and the unique identity of the native Irish people who were forced to practice their religion 'underground', it is not surprising that an Irish Wedding has a particular identity all its own and has many specific traditions associated with it.

Here at Minter + Richter Designs, we are lucky enough to get to ship a ton of wedding rings to Ireland every year as well as make wedding rings for the Irish community right here in Boston.  Ireland is one of my favorite places to go to collect sand for wedding rings.  I just finished harvesting sand all the way around the southern coast and we have already used loads of it for Irish locals and far-flung lovers of Ireland alike.

irish sand

Exploring Wedding Traditions


Not only do we use beach sand from Ireland for our wedding rings, we can also use Connemara Marble or Irish Bog Oak!  

Connemarra Marble Wedding Rings

Connemara Marble Irish Wedding Rings - Exploring Wedding Traditions


Irish Bog Oak is always popular, whether it is on its own in a ring or combined with other Irish inlay materials.  Over 6,000 years old and preserved in the bogs of Ireland, it is a perfect symbol of marital longevity.

Irish Bog Oak

Irish Bog Oak - Exploring Wedding Traditions


Irish Bog

Irish Bog - Exploring Wedding Traditions


Irish Couple

Minter & Richter Designs Irish Couple! - Exploring Wedding Traditions


Irish Bog Oak Wedding Ring

Irish Bog Oak looks great when combined with materials from around the world, like this ring with sand from Okinawa, Japan! - Exploring Wedding Traditions


Green Irish Ring

Sometimes all you need for that Irish feel is just a little green!  Jade and Malachite are great stones to use for that. - Exploring Wedding Traditions


How would you like to incorporate Ireland into your wedding ring?  We would love to help!  

simply copy and paste the below with your answers to an email to me at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com and we will get started.

Ring A - ____________________________ (name or description of ring – or name of ring on website you are basing your design upon))

apx. size - __________ (we would base your sizers around this size.  Custom Sizers are highly recommended, see below in signature for info.)

width - __________ mm

Finish on metal - _______________________ (satin?  Sandblasted?  Mirror?)

Shape of edges - __________________________ (rounded?  Flat?  Pinstriped?)

Any interior anodizing?  If so, what color? - ___________________ (blue, green, bronze, sunset, pink, purple)

engraving phrase - _____________________________________________ (if desired)


Ring B - _________________________________ (description of ring – or NAME OF RING on our website you are basing your design upon))))

apx. size – _____________ (we would base your sizers around this size.  Custom Sizers are highly recommended, see below in signature for info.)

width – _____________mm

Finish on metal - _______________________ (satin?  Sandblasted?  Mirror?)

Shape of edges - __________________________ (rounded?  Flat?  Pinstriped?)

Any interior anodizing?  If so, what color? - ___________________ (blue, green, bronze, sunset, pink, purple)

engraving phrase - __________________________________________ (if desired)

Instagram Handle - ______________________ (Do you want to get tagged with a pic of the ring while we are making it?)

Wedding hashtag - ___________________________

wedding date - _________________________

latest must have by date - __________________

Do you want a Lifetime Care Option?  If so, which level? _________________ (STANDARD Level, PREMIUM Level – see below in signature for info.)

Full STREET shipping address - ______________________________________________





Covers all damage for life

Covers a onetime free re-make should you ever lose your ring.

Not available for Meteorite Rings

Unless waived for special circumstances, must be purchased as part of original transaction.

Includes return shipping



Covers all damage for life

Does not cover loss of ring

Includes return shipping




Q: How do I get sized?


A: WE STRONGLY SUGGEST PURCHASING MINTER & RICHTER CUSTOM SIZERS to guarantee you get the absolute perfect fit for your ring. The industry-wide standard for ring size carries many variables (different measuring tools, ring widths, ring materials and design). Factory made bands are sized LESS accurately than our handmade bands. Therefore, getting sized at a factory jewelry store does not guarantee that the size will be correct. We offer Sizing Exchanges for life for half price. But getting Custom Sizers ensures that you will not need a sizing exchange. A sizing exchange is 50% the cost of the original if you were not sized on our custom sizers.


  1. Minter & Richter Custom Aluminum Sizers ($45 for a set of 3 sizers): If you have a general idea of what your ring size might be, we can make you a set of custom aluminum sizers (plain aluminum bands) in three different sizes at your preferred width. This allows you to spend time wearing each sizer for a day or two and finding out which one offers the most comfortable fit. Finger size can fluctuate slightly throughout the day due to water intake, temperature, etc. so this is an excellent way to get an accurate representation of exactly how your final ring will fit. We request that customers purchase their final ring(s) at the same time as the sizers. We will ship you the sizers along with a SASE for convenient return (domestic only – international must pay for return shipping). Once you confirm your ring size we begin making your rings!

(**Please note that sizers can add approximately 2 weeks to order processing.)


WHAT IS THE BEST DAY FOR AN IRISH WEDDING? - Exploring Wedding Traditions

In Ireland centuries ago the most popular day to be married was a Sunday. This made sense as it was the day when the working week was done and people were free to attend the simple marriage ceremonies that were available at the time.

As the decades and years rolled by and as the Catholic religion developed and reasserted itself in Ireland, the choice of Sunday became frowned upon as it was often seen as a mark of disrespect. Similarly, it became unusual for a couple to be wed in May as this was the traditional start of Summer and was marked by a Pagan feast: Beltane.

These beliefs are the origin of the old marriage song:

      Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind, and true.
      When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate.

      If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
      Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and man.

      Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.
      Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you'll go.

      They who in July do wed, must labor always for their bread.
      Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see.

      Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine.
      If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.

      If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember.
      When December's rain fall fast, marry and true love will last.

HANDFASTING - TYING THE KNOT - Exploring Wedding Traditions

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition that involved tying the hands of the betrothed together well in advance of their actual wedding day. It is like an engagement ceremony, a time when both parties decide if they really wish to commit. In Modern times the tradition occurs on the actual wedding day although in centuries past the ceremony acted as a kind of temporary marriage.


Handfasting was a legitimate way for people to be married during the Middle Ages and only stopped happening when laws were enacted making the act of marriage much more formal. Ireland was ruled by 'Brehon law' and handfasting was duly recognized as a proper form of marriage.

This tradition is well recorded in Ireland and especially at Teltown in County Meath. The Irish historian John O'Donovan (1806-1861) wrote of the 'Teltown Marriages':

A number of young men went into the hollow to the north side of the wall, and an equal number of marriageable young women to the south side of the wall which was so high as to prevent them from seeing the men; one of the women put her hand thro' the hole in the gate and a man took hold of it from the other side, being guided in his choice only by the appearance of the hand. The two were thus joined hands by blind chance were obliged to live together for a year and a day, at the expiration of which time they appeared at the Rath of Telton and if they were not satisfied with each other they obtained a deed of separation, and were entitled to go to Laganeeny again to try their good fortune for the ensuing year.

IRISH WEDDING DRINKS - Exploring Wedding Traditions

No Irish wedding would be complete without a traditional toast to the happy couple. Of course, in modern times this is often completed with Champagne but in the seventeenth century in Ireland, this was in very short supply! For many Poteen was the drink of choice!

Poteen is a very strong Whiskey made from potatoes. It was not uncommon for the flavor and recipe to vary from village to village and County to County depending on the type of potato that was refined and the skill of the person doing the refining.

Mead is another alternative. Mead is an Anglo-Saxon drink originally made by Monks and consists of white wine mixed with honey and herbs. It became very popular in Ireland and is often served in modern times as a 'traditional' Irish wedding drink. The Mead was said to possess magical powers of fertility and thus it became customary for the Bride and Groom to drink the Mead for one full moon after their wedding, giving rise to the word 'honeymoon'.

THE LUCKY HORSESHOE - Exploring Wedding Traditions

The tradition of a horseshoe is well known throughout the world and so it is in Ireland. By placing the horseshoe upright over a door or in a room the 'luck of the house' was kept intact. The Greeks associated the horseshoe with the crescent moon and its symbolism of fertility. The tradition was popular throughout Ireland and England too with the readily available horseshoe being carried by the bride as she walked down the aisle. It was then affixed securely by the Groom in the matrimonial home. Today, glass and ceramic horseshoes are symbolically used at Irish wedding ceremonies.

THE MAGIC HANKY - Exploring Wedding Traditions

It is now usual for the 'magic hanky' to be made from Linen although it is likely the original versions were made from cheaper materials. It was usual for the bride to carry the hanky on her wedding day and for it to be retained and later converted to a Christening hat/bonnet for her first child. The hanky would be passed on from generation to generation to be re-used similarly.

The expression 'his goose is cooked' is still in use in Ireland and especially in Dublin. The phrase originated from the tradition of cooking a goose for the groom in the bride’s house the night before the wedding. Once the goose was cooked there was simply no going back!

WEDDING BELLS - Exploring Wedding Traditions

The use of Church bells in Christian religions is symbolic of driving away the evil spirits from the marriage-to-be. In Penal times in Ireland, this was not possible, so the gift of a small bell acted as a substitute. Modern Irish weddings often have stationery, invitations, bunting, and decorations adorned with bells, hearts, shamrocks, and horseshoes. A small glass or ceramic bell can be used in the Church service and kept as a memento.

THE DOWRY - Exploring Wedding Traditions

The tradition of dowry-giving was very well established in rural Ireland and was a source of pride for the family of the bride. Modernity has relegated this tradition to the history books but in rural areas, it is still noted if a Bride brings 'any land' with her.

FLOWERS - Exploring Wedding Traditions

It was customary to decorate the house where the wedding celebration was held with locally grown flowers and plants. These would vary according to the time of the year that the wedding was held. Some plants have become associated with Ireland, not least the now readily available 'Bells of Ireland', used in modern times for its symbolism. A Celtic tradition in Wales involves the plant Myrtle which is presented by the Bride to the Bridesmaids who then plant it in their gardens. If the plant grew then the bridesmaid would be married before the year is out!

THE WEDDING TOAST - Exploring Wedding Traditions

There are many old sayings, Blessings, and Toasts that are used at a traditional Irish wedding. Here are three of our favorites:

Friends and relatives, so fond and dear,
'tis our greatest pleasure to have you here.
When many years this day has passed,
fondest memories will always last.
So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask
God's blessing in your hour of need.'

Guests response:
'On this special day,
our wish to you,
the goodness of the old,
the best of the new.
God bless you both who drink this mead,
may it always fill your every need.'


May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love.
Your lives are very special,
God has touched you in many ways.
May his blessings rest upon you
And fill all your coming days.


May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again my friend
May God hold you in the palm of his hand

THE WEDDING DANCE - Exploring Wedding Traditions

Of course, it is a tradition the world over that the Bride and Groom should take center stage for the first dance of the evening.

If you really want to impress, then take a few Irish Dancing classes - the basic steps are easy enough to accomplish - you don’t have to do a full Riverdance although some of your guests may later make the attempt! You may even consider having some traditional Irish music played by a live band or hiring some Irish Pipers - the sky is the limit!

ANCIENT IRISH CUSTOMS - Exploring Wedding Traditions

Not often observed in modern times is the very ancient custom for the Bride and Groom to eat some salt (with oatmeal) on their wedding day to ward off evil spirits. A lot of the superstitions and omens that are associated with an Irish wedding have their root in Catholicism and Gaelic tradition.

  • Placing a statue of 'the Child of Prague' in the garden of the bride prior to the wedding is supposed to ensure that her big day is blessed by nice weather. Some Brides bury the statue in their garden!
  • Getting married during a time of plenty, during a harvest, is a good omen for any newly married couple.
  • It is preferable that a man should be the first to wish joy to a new Bride, and never a woman.
  • On the wedding day itself it was always considered lucky to hear a cuckoo bird or to see three magpies together.
  • A wedding party should always avoid crossing paths with a Funeral procession.
  • When leaving a Church, it is not unusual for rice or confetti to be hurled at the betrothed, but in ancient times an old shoe was tossed over the head of the bride for luck - not so lucky if it hits the bride though!
  • Perhaps any new mother-in-law should note that to ensure good relations with her new daughter-in-law all she has to do is break a piece of the wedding cake over the head of the bride as she enters her house after the wedding ceremony. Gently does it though!
    hands -it is! - but they should never wash their hands together in the same sink, less misfortune unfolds.




Exploring Wedding Traditions

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