8 Celtic wedding traditions the romantic in you will love

The Celtic culture is rife with many wonderful wedding traditions. In fact, many modern Western wedding traditions have their roots within traditional Celtic culture. Some of them may have fallen out of fashion of late but all still have a beautiful sentimentality to them. With many offering a touch of humour and a kind of sound practicality, here are some you may consider incorporating into your wedding.

1. The Marriage Bell

Celtic tradition dictates that each couple should receive at least one bell as a wedding gift. The bell occupies a main space in the newlyweds home.

celtic wedding tradition

Image via flyawaybride

The bell is designed to serve as a literal ‘time-out’ symbol so that when arguments breaks out, either party can ring the bell and declare a truce. This allows both your husband and you to walk away, putting an end to the quarrel, without an admission of guilt.

2. Hands fasting

The isolated nature of some Celtic clans meant that clergy officials were often in short supply. The lack of priests meant that couples could legally pledge themselves to one another in a ceremony similar to a wedding. This was called a ‘hands fasting’. In this ceremony the couples had their hands gently bound together with a cord or strip of cloth. This is where the saying ‘tie the knot’ is believed to have originated. A hands fasting was intended as a trial marriage contract that lasted a year and a day.

celtic wedding tradition

Image via Pinterest

If the couple decided to stay together at the end of the trial period they would find a clergyman to officiate their marriage, if not, they could simply go their separate ways. Not a bad idea at all really. Today a hand fasting ceremony is often incorporated into modern Celtic weddings.

3. Wearing colours

Although today it may be considered the standard for a bride to wear white,  the tradition is only 200 years old, and it like so many others, owes its origin to Queen Victoria. More often than not a traditional Celtic bride will wear bright, vibrant colours for her big day.

4. Bagpipes

No instrument on earth can hold a candle to the ear piercing, iconic shriek of a bagpipe. A quintessential element to any traditional Celtic wedding, none would be complete without one.  Plus, the Australian classic “You’re the voice” by John Farnham features one, so there’s already a 80% chance you’ll have bagpipes locked in for the dance floor anyway.

5. Barefoot wedding

For those of us who have ever attended an outdoor wedding ceremony, you would be familiar with the unpleasant sensation of your heels sinking into grass. The immense difficulty of trying to stay above ground comfortably whilst paying attention to the ceremony is an experience that no girl enjoys. It’s time like this where the Celtic wedding tradition of the bridal party, and almost everyone else, going barefoot has immense appeal.

celtic wedding tradition

Image via etsy.com

Although some may condemn this as a fashion faux par, we would argue that ruining a great pair of heels is the bigger fashion crime.  Plus, let’s face it, half of us never make it through the entire night in our heels anyway!

6. Irish horseshoe

In Celtic culture a horseshoe was often sown into the wedding gown or tucked into the bridal bouquet. This iconic symbol of good luck is believed to stem from the level of importance Celts placed on their livestock, particularly horses. Although the practice of adorning oneself with a horseshoe may have fallen out of fashion in more recent times, the practice of throwing a horseshoe is still common in Celtic weddings and makes for some great pre-reception entertainment.

7. Tartan

Nothing says Celtic wedding quite like some Tartan. Whether the groom chooses to wear the full blown kilt, or opt for a jacket or even a bow-tie, there are many different ways to incorporate tartan into ones attire. The bride, bridesmaids and other female guests can also incorporate the Celtic spirit into their dress by wearing a tartan Sash, skirt or shawl.

tartan wedding dress


Image via nafdress.com

8. A ‘Penny wedding’

If you’re looking to have a less lush/expensive wedding, then you may be a fan of the Scottish ‘penny wedding.’ In this tradition each guest brings a plate of food to celebrate the wedding after the ceremony.

This practice kept with the tradition of communalism within Celtic culture and made for a warm reflection of your family and friends. Plus, no-one makes good quite as good as your nanna, so you may as well treat yourself to the best on the big day 😉

Posted in Culture by wedded wonderland

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