In many cases a marriage is recognized both by a church and the state. While the legal requirements for a wedding are established by the state, many couple wish to follow certain religious traditions to have their marriage recognized in their church as well. In the Catholic religion marriage is considered sacred and is one of the sacraments of the faith. The Catholic Church puts forth their own requirements for a marriage to be recognized in the eyes of the church.
The Claddagh ring has a special meaning in a traditional Irish wedding. The Claddagh ring is a traditional ring that looks like two hands holding a heart that is adorned with a crown. Tradition holds that Claddagh rings be passed down from mother to daughter. As these rings are meant to be passed down for generations, it is not considered proper to buy a Claddagh ring for yourself. Yet another tradition involving the Claddagh ring relates to how it is worn. An engaged or married woman or man would wear the ring with the tips of the crown facing towards their fingertips. In this position the ring is considered to be turned inward and symbolizes that the heart of the person wearing the ring is taken. A man or woman who is not involved in a romantic relationship would wear the ring with the tips of the crown facing towards their wrist. This outward position of the ring symbolizes that the person wearing the ring is reaching out for companionship.
Traditional Irish weddings also adhere to several unusual superstitions in an attempt to ward off bad luck. A rain or overcast day might be cause for concern at a traditional Irish wedding. This is because one of the strange superstitions is that the sun must shine directly on the bride to ensure that the couple will be blessed with good luck. Birds also factor into some of the traditional Irish superstitions. Hearing a cuckoo bird or seeing three magpies are also considered to be signs of luck for the couple.
Another Catholic wedding tradition requires that previous marriages receive an annulment before the couple can be married in the church. Even if the previous marriage was not held in the church or recognized by the church, they still require an annulment before they will perform a marriage ceremony. In this situation a divorce decree is not enough. The previously married party will have to seek an annulment that verifies that the previous marriage was not valid.
A traditional Irish wedding usually concludes with a toast that has been recited for many years. At the end of the reception the guests will gather around the couple for the final toast. The couple will begin the toast by saying, “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.”
The guests then respond to the toast with the following answer: “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.” “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.” The guests respond: “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.”
Of course, no traditional Irish wedding complete without the presence of bagpipes and kilts. It is customary for friends and family members to bring along their bagpipes and pipe the couple into the mass and into the reception. They may also continue to charm the guests with an assortment of bagpipe tunes suitable for dancing. Not only do friends and family members enjoy performing for the couple and the other guests but they also enjoy taking the opportunity to dress in traditional kilts for the occasion. The look and sound of the bagpipers creates the feel of a truly traditional Irish wedding.
A traditional Irish wedding is a festive occasion filled with good friends, food and music. In addition to these traditional elements the Irish people also have traditions regarding the Claddagh ring and standardized toasts that are used to wish the new couple well. Superstitions also play a role in a traditional Irish wedding. Many of the traditional superstitions relate to objects or occurrences that are thought to bring the couple good luck.