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Irish Weddings
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Irish believed that if the sun shone on the bride, it would bring good luck to the couple. It was also lucky to hear a cuckoo on the wedding morning or to see three magpies. After the wedding ceremony, it was important that a man and not a woman be the first to wish joy to the new bride. Some other Irish superstitions and customs are:
  • It's good luck to have your birthstone in your engagement ring, even if that stone is otherwise thought to be an unlucky gem.
  • The earrings you wear on your wedding day will bring you luck & happiness ever after.
  • It's lucky to tear your wedding dress accidentally on your wedding day.
  • It's good luck if a happily married woman puts the veil on you, but bad luck to put it on yourself.
  • It's lucky to be awakened by birds singing on your wedding morning.
  • If you look at the sun when you leave for your wedding, your children will be beautiful.

In Ireland the last day of the old year is thought specially lucky for weddings. Childermas Day or Holy Innocents is, on the contrary, a very unlucky one.....An old superstition holds that May is an unlucky wedding month, because of its association with the Virgin Mary, yet it is one of the most popular months for weddings, both in America and Ireland. A sunny day is lucky, and a rainy one, unlucky. Christmas & New Year's Eve are lucky times to get married.
You Marry on Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses and Saturday no day at all

Another ancient practice in some parts of Ireland is that of firing rifles and other weaponry into the air as the couple pass to salute the bride; of course over the past centuries this has occasionally been observed with devastating results. Honking the horns of the cars in the procession from the church replaces the firing of guns.

In centuries past, an Irish bride returned home by a different path with her new husband than she took to the church or wedding with her father. This may have begun as an attempt to avoid pranks (which often involved kidnapping), but also symbolizes that she travels a new road in life as well.

Banns of marriage were required in areas under British rule, including Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The banns consisted of an announcement in church for three Sundays prior to the wedding. This prevented people from marrying in haste and also gave any who might object time to learn of the match. Giving three months notice to the registrar is still a legal requirement in Ireland.

The bridal party has many origins, one of which comes from the Anglo Saxon days. When the groom was about to capture his bride, he needed the help of his friends, the "bridesmen" or "brideknights". They would make sure the bride got to the church and to the groom's house afterwards. The bride also had women to help her, the "bridesmaids" or "brideswomen".

In some places and times it seems to mean betrothal and in others genuine marriage. Many interpret it as a trial marriage or a step beyond betrothal but not nearly as permanent as marriage. It is often repeated that this handfasting for a year and a day would normally lead to regular permanent and valid marriage but if either parties chose to leave, the relationship was null. Even if children had been brought forth these children were considered lawful offspring of both parents. Handfasting, it is claimed is a holdover from pre-Christian Celtic marriage laws. Today handfasting is now the familiar part of the ceremony where the person officiating the ceremony asks "Who gives this woman to be wed?" and then takes her hand from her father or whoever is giving away the bride and clasps it to the hand of the groom. In olden days the priest or minister would wrap the clasped hands in the end of his stole to symbolize the trinity of marriage; man and woman joined by God. With God’s grace in time another trinity would be manifest; mother, father and child. The Celts have always been good at seeing things in threes. This symbolic binding together in marriage evolved into a the practice of wrapping the clasped hands with a cord or an embroidered cloth, usually made especially for that purpose.