Irish-Themed Wedding Ideas and Decorations

Updated on April 20, 2018

Lucky In Love?

There are so many wedding themes out there, it's difficult for a couple to narrow it down to one they can agree on. One partner may just want to eat, drink, and get married! The other may want to spend time looking for a theme that is meaningful to the two of them as a couple.

Then, there are the families to deal with and what their thoughts are concerning your choice of theme. Grandma O' Donovan may not approve of that Day of The Dead theme you wanted, despite your best explanation of the religious significance of that particular holiday!

However, how about a meaningful wedding theme on which couples and their families can all agree? Why not choose a wedding theme based on your heritage and that of your future spouse? Perhaps your families have a deep connection to their cultural background. Wouldn't it be wonderful to show honor and respect for your families by planning a theme around your families' cultures? You might even learn a few things you didn't know in the process!

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Planning an Irish Wedding

Wishing to incorporate her family's heritage in her wedding, Chrystal chose an Irish theme for her wedding, even though her groom is Italian. He agreed, as long as some elements of his culture were honored and between the two of them, a theme was born! The bride chose emerald green and silver which are colors that go beautifully together, and coincidentally, green is in both the Irish and Italian flag—so that was a huge bonus!

First thing's first, research had to be done to discover some Irish wedding traditions that could be incorporated into the ceremony and reception. The Irish culture has a ton of fun and interesting wedding traditions from the past that can be easily translated into today's weddings, making them unique and fun for families and friends.

Diamond-Encrusted Claddagh Ring

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Your Irish Engagement Ring: The Claddagh

If you really are going with tradition all the way, you'll want a Claddagh ring as your engagement ring. Mothers generally hand down their Claddagh rings to their daughters, but if your mother doesn't own one then you get to experience the fun of picking one out.

Claddagh rings have a romantic history. Legend goes that a man from the village of Claddagh was captured and made into a slave. While in captivity, he stole tiny pieces of gold from his wealthy master and molded them into a ring for his beloved who was left behind, in the hopes that she was still waiting for him. The ring consisted of a heart, a crown, and hands. The hands represented friendship, the heart, love, and the crown, loyalty. When the man was freed, he returned to Cladagh and, finding his true love waiting for him, gave her the ring and married her. Ah, love!

The Claddagh ring also has a special way it is to be worn. Girls who received their mothers' Claddagh rings wore them on their right hand with the crown pointed inward to indicate they were single and outward on the right hand to symbolize they were dating a special someone. When the Claddagh ring got transferred to the left hand, that's when things got serious! The ring with crown turned inward on the left hand meant they were engaged and outward meant they were married!

Claddagh Wish Cards & Ribbon Wands

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Picking an Irish Wedding Dress

Since it IS all about the bride anyway, let's pick a dress! Choosing a dress for an Irish-themed wedding can be fun, but you need to first decide the kind of feel you're going for at the wedding. Are you looking to create a sort of medieval Celtic feel?

If so, you might want to consider buying a dress from one of the many companies online that are suppliers for Renaissance festivals. There are seamstresses who will custom-make a historically accurate dress for you. Celtic wedding dresses of long ago had long, full, bell sleeves that sometimes came to a point over the hands. The bodice was more than likely Empire-style or very tailored and close to the body with a squared neckline. Sleeves and necklines were also sometimes edged in a braid with gold or silver or with Celtic knots interwoven into the design.

However, if you want your wedding to have a more modern touch but still have an Irish flair, choose a dress with small accents of green or even a traditional white wedding dress with a kelly green petticoat underneath! If you really want to consider Irish legend, though, it was considered bad luck for brides to wear green, so you might want to forego the wearin' o' the green, depending on how superstitious you are!

Whether you choose a Celtic or modern dress, don't forget to somehow incorporate a horseshoe into your attire, either as a charm sewn into the hem, attached to the handle of your bouquet, or even dangling by a small ribbon from the skirt of your dress. Horseshoes are considered by the Irish to be good luck and brides carry them on their wedding day. Make sure the horseshoe is pointed upward, as pointing downward means your luck can run out! Irish lace is another beautiful traditional fabric but it can be expensive, so if your budget is tight, incorporate it into small items like a handkerchief or trim on your shoes.

In Chrystal's wedding, since the groom was Italian, a kilt wasn't really an option. However, if the groom is Irish and interested in donning classic Irish attire, you might want to include a kilt as traditional wedding attire. Hopefully, he knows the tartan of his clan, but if he doesn't, there are resources online that can help. Clans were not just family members but were groups living in a certain area. If the groom knows the area his family came from, it's a lot easier to find the tartan associated with that clan. However, if he doesn't there are tons of sites that can help him track down the area where his clan once lived and from there, help find the tartan.

Irish Wedding Gown

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An Irish Wedding Invitation

"Marry in May and rue the day."

"Marry in May if you can, joy for maiden and for man."

These are Irish words of wisdom to help in selecting your wedding date before you send out those invites! With so many DIY invitation sites out there, it's gotten easier and easier to create your own invitations. Even elaborate pocketfolds, though time consuming, are not that difficult. There are tons of tutorials online for creating your own invitations, but you want to add those Irish touches to truly make it reflect your wedding theme. Choose a font that has a Medieval feel to it, such as Celtic Garamond or Celtic Hand, both available as a free download on DaFont. Celtic typefaces can get a little elaborate and you do want your guests to actually be able to read your invitation, so don't go overboard on the script! Select small touches like Celtic crosses, knots, or borders to add interest.

Although you may be tempted to color your type green, don't! It really will come out looking not so elegant and a little on the cheesy side, so stick with black or medium grey to give it a silvery look. If you're doing pocketfolds, you can use a pearlized clover green as your pocket or add a green accent with your belly band instead. Ribbon clovers are fun to make and add a unique accent to your invitation, frames, even the handle of your bouquet.

Invitation With Celtic Knot Design

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Incorporating Other Irish Symbols

Symbolism was very important in the Irish culture. The Celtic cross is a beautiful symbol that could be incorporated into the wedding décor. The Celtic cross is a cross with a circle representing the sun behind it. It was said the Celtic cross was actually introduced by a saint who incorporated the sun into the design and placed the sun over the cross to let the pagan worshipers of the sun know that the cross superseded the importance of the sun. Celtic crosses could be incorporated into invitations, programs, and even bridesmaid's gifts like necklaces or earrings.

The Celtic Triquetra knot, which is a three sided knot, represents many different things. Some say it represents the Holy Trinity, others claim it is an infinity symbol since it has no beginning nor end. Still others say it represents Past, Present, and Future. Regardless of which interpretation you believe, all of these can be applied to the wedding ceremony.

Aisle Runner With Celtic Knot/Italian Horn

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Irish Blessings & Toasts

No Irish wedding would be complete without an Irish blessing or two and more than a few toasts! Here are just a few that could be used to provide an Irish flair to the proceedings!

May God be with you and bless you,
May you see your children's children,
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

May the roof above you never fall in,
And those gathered beneath it never fall out.

May your heart be light and happy,
May your smile be big and wide,
And may your pockets always have
a coin or two inside!

Obviously, the Irish have a great sense of humor! Enjoy your day and Erin Go Bragh!

Questions & Answers

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      • DIYweddingplanner profile imageAUTHOR

        DIYweddingplanner 

        5 years ago from South Carolina, USA

        This was my first, too, Jamie. I wish I had save a picture of the bride's headpiece, very Medieval looking and so in keeping with the theme.

      • Jamie Brock profile image

        Jamie Brock 

        5 years ago from Texas

        I have never seen an Irish wedding .. love all the Irish accessories and what a gorgeous wedding gown! What a lovely wedding idea.. thank you for sharing :)

      • DIYweddingplanner profile imageAUTHOR

        DIYweddingplanner 

        5 years ago from South Carolina, USA

        I like the bell idea. We were planning to have a bird bath with wishing stones where guests could write their wishes and then put them in the bird bath, but that idea never quite made it off the ground! We were trying to copy the custom of wedding guests throwing a stone into a neighboring pond and making a wish for the bride and groom with each stone thrown into the pond.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 years ago

        What pretty ideas. My brother and sis-in-law had little bells at their wedding with an irish poem tied to it. It was a really nice touch.

      • DIYweddingplanner profile imageAUTHOR

        DIYweddingplanner 

        5 years ago from South Carolina, USA

        Thanks, PartyPail. I just did this wedding in September and learned so much about Irish traditions. It was really fun and unique and especially appreciated by the bride's family.

      • partypail profile image

        PartyPail 

        5 years ago from www.partypail.com

        This is a great hub, very informative and well put together. You've highlighted some beautiful Irish traditions. I especially appreciate the number of ways you've suggested to incorporate Irish symbolism, all the way down to the Celtic knot on the invitation!

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