Give yourself time
There are more than 50 venues in Dublin licensed to organise an official civil marriage, though under Irish law you cannot be married anywhere outside. Whilst a minimum of 3 months notice is required to register in advance of your marriage, in Dublin it is wise to register 7 months ahead.
If you’re planning a catholic wedding ceremony, start early as the paperwork takes time. Create a short-list of 2-3 churches in case your preferred church is unavailable.
Irish traditions before your big day
There are so many traditions, customs and folklore to take advantage of for a traditional Irish wedding. There’s one custom where the groom is invited to the bride’s house just before the wedding and they cook a goose in his honour. Once the goose was cooked there was simply no going back. At one time, the groom was locked inside the church on the wedding day in case he got cold feet. It’s unlikely your priest will agree to that today!
Traditional symbols for the wedding
It is very common for a Claddagh Ring to be used at an Irish wedding. The ring is faced outwards prior to the wedding and reversed to face inwards on the hand after the wedding to indicate marriage status of the wearer.
The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away and restore harmony. A small glass or ceramic bell can be used in the Church service and kept as a memento. Giving a bell as a gift has become an Irish tradition.
There are a few traditional Irish wedding vows that you might like to incorporate into your ceremony or have everyone sing the Irish wedding song.
Historically, Irish brides wore a wreath of wild-flowers in their hair and carried them in bouquets. Include the ‘Bells of Ireland’ flower and a sprig of shamrock for good luck in your flower arrangements including the groom’s boutonierre.
Irish brides used to carry a real horseshoe for good luck. A horseshoe made of porcelain or fabric is as good. For other gift ideas for the bride you can check silveranniversarygifts.co.uk.
A linen ‘magic hanky’ is traditionally carried by the bride on her wedding day, being converted to a Christening hat for her first child. The hanky is then converted back to be used at the child’s own wedding.
Traditional Irish reception
Irish pipes are much gentler than Scottish bagpipes. Consider having a piper to play as the guests arrive at the reception. Add some Irish dancing too for pageantry.
Toast the couple with mead, the oldest drink in Ireland made with wine, honey and herbs, believed to promote virility.
May all your joys be pure joy, and all your pain, champagne. Sláinte!