How to Include Celtic Wedding Traditions in Your Wedding Day

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For those with Irish or Scottish descent, incorporation of Celtic weddings traditions into the big day can carry a wonderful meaning. It is a way to pay homage to your family and heritage, no matter where you are in the world.

The Celtic cultural ways are traditionally Irish or Scottish. However, nowadays even couples from a different background may choose to use ancient traditions of a Celtic wedding ceremony. It is a way to add whimsy to your special wedding day.

A lot of symbolism is found in the Celtic tradition. A traditional wedding includes many beautiful moments that were initially performed to bless the new couple. The symbolism can be seen in the wedding attire but also in the smaller ceremonial traditions spread throughout the entire marriage ceremony.

A useful thing to know about Celtic wedding traditions is that they are not always considered religious. This means that you can incorporate these cultural customs into an otherwise religious ceremony or simply plan the Celtic customs for the wedding reception.

Celtic Wedding Ceremony Traditions

If you are getting married in a church or if the marriage is being officiated by a religious figure, then check beforehand whether the celebrant is comfortable with including Celtic customs.

An ancient Celtic way to show the unity of the wedding couple is by creating a Cain. A Cain is a circle that is drawn to encircle only the bride and groom. The people in the wedding party surround the couple outside of the circle. This custom is to show that the couple is not only united as husband and wife but also with God.

Another ancient Celtic way of showing love and oneness is with the Unity Candle. The Unity Candle has one large candle in the middle symbolizing the bride and groom. On either side of the central candle are smaller candles which symbolize the bride’s family and grooms family. Lighting these candles shows that both families, or rather clans, are also united through the marriage.

There are no strict rules on which Celtic wedding customs and traditions need to be performed. This is completely up to the couple.

A Celtic Wedding Dress That Doesn’t Follow Modern Tradition

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Ancient Celtic wedding attire is very different from the common wedding attire today. A white dress for the bride and a tuxedo for the groom are the most common wedding clothes, today. However, the wedding clothes during ancient Celtic times do not follow the modern day wedding style.

The ancient Celtic wedding dress was not white. Brides preferred to wear a dress in a bright color like blue or red. Green was not a common color for the dress because they thought that fairies might come to disrupt the wedding. Blue was worn for good luck. A blue wedding dress also symbolizes the bride’s purity.

In addition to purity, the bride would also carry a symbol of fertility with her. This came in the form of a handkerchief that she would tuck into her sleeve. The handkerchief might also be placed inside her bouquet, instead.

Another difference in wedding attire is that Celtic brides didn’t wear a veil. Instead, brides would wear a floral wreath as the decorative headdress. Popular flowers to include in the wreath, but also in the bouquet, are the shamrock, lavender, and heather. The lavender is typically Irish and the heather is more associated with the Scots.

The groom was usually in a traditional tartan suit of kilt, socks, and a jacket. In ancient times, most clans had their own plaid pattern that would also be worn during the wedding. The groom might also attach a tartan sash to his bride to signify her joining his clan.

Ancient Celtic Wedding Traditions for Good Fortune

Many of the Celtic wedding traditions are supposed to bring good luck, wealth, happiness, and fortune to the newlyweds. The following fun customs are all symbolic.

Irish Grushie

The Irish Grushie is another tradition that will provide the new family with a happy life together. When the couple departs the marriage ceremony, they will throw coins for the children before they leave for the wedding feast. Instead of coins, you can also opt for wrapped candies.

Pebble Toss

Ancient Celtic weddings were often held near bodies of water. This allowed for the tradition of the pebble toss. The new husband and wife would throw a pebble inside a well, lake or river so they could both make a wish. Water carries great significance for the Celts as it is thought to please their Gods.

Quaich

To create a strong loving bond between the new husband and wife, the couple would drink from a quaich during the reception. A quaich is a cup with two handles and must be held with both handles, too. The couple shares the cup during the reception and passes it to each other using both handles each time.

Marriage Bell

A traditional gift is the marriage bell. According to another Celtic wedding tradition, the new husband and wife had to receive at least one marriage bell as a wedding gift. The marriage bell functioned as a peacemaker. If the couple found themselves arguing excessively, one of them could ring the bell to end the argument immediately. After the bell has been rung neither party has to take the blame for the argument and the couple could move on.