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Irish Wedding Traditions

Irish Wedding Traditions

Katie Rhodes |

The covenant of marriage is a sacred one—special because of the proclamation of love, the commitment made before God, and—of course—the Irish traditions that accompany the ceremony. As wedding season comes into full swing, we’re brushing up on several of our favorite Irish wedding traditions.

Wearing The Claddagh Ring

Claddagh rings are an icon that is  symbolic of love, friendship, and fidelity in Ireland. The tradition is for single women to wear the ring on their right hand with the crown turned inward. When you are in a relationship, the ring is flipped to have the crown face outward. When a woman becomes engaged, the ring moves to her left hand. On this hand it means “Let Love and Friendship reign forever, never to be separated.”


Have you wondered where the phrase “tying the knot” originated? It comes from this Irish practice, which literally means to bind the hands—or wrists—of the bride and groom together, thus uniting them. Originally, the man and woman were bound for a period of time, and at its end they could decide to separate or go into a lifelong union.

Incorporating Bagpipes or a Harp

Both the harp and the bagpipe have Celtic roots .The harp served as Ireland’s national emblem for a number of years, and bagpipes are still a popular part of the culture today. Having a harpist or bagpiper at your ceremony can add historical Irish flair to the celebration.

Ringing Wedding Bells

Bells have a couple of meanings in Irish marriages. First, ringing bells on a couple’s wedding day is said to keep any evil spirits away from the sacred vow of marriage and bring good luck and fortune to the couple. Secondly, they have a slightly everyday application that many couples—Irish or not—still use. “Makeup bells,” as they are known, are meant to be rung by one spouse when a couple has an argument. When the bell rings, they must makeup and forget the quarrel. For both of these reasons, bells make a popular gift for Irish brides and grooms.

What are some of your favorite Irish wedding traditions?