Are you planning to use a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day Wedding theme for your upcoming nuptials? Well then, you’ve come to the right place for St. Patrick’s Day wedding inspiration, ideas, and deals! Whether you are Irish or just want to have a party that would make an Irishman proud, I’m going to attempt to show you how to have an event that you and your guests will remember long after the green beer hangover subsides.
Many couples of Irish descent choose to honor their heritage by adding some uniquely Irish traditions to their wedding. You can go one step further and plan to have your Irish wedding on St. Patrick’s Day, La Fheile Padraig (St. Patrick’s Day in Irish).
History of St. Patrick
It is believed Patrick lived between 432-461 A.D. in Great Britain. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery to Ireland. After six years he escaped and went back to his home country. He then decided to become a priest. He had a dream that Irish people were calling him to convert them to Christianity, so he decided that he needed to go back to Ireland and help. After years of preparation he went back to Ireland.
There were already some Christians there but St. Patrick really put a major shift on the country. He established multiple churches that spread all over Ireland with time. It is also believed that he brought written word to Ireland, as he was promoting the study of Bible text. Patrick’s mission lasted for thirty years. He died 5th century on March 17, which is the day St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year. For more information on St. Patrick, read here
2013 would be a fantastic year to have your St. Patrick’s Day, Irish, or Celtic wedding, as there are three shades of green selected by Pantone as the colors of the year, with the color of the year rumored to be mint green at this writing, so finding a shade of green that you want to use is a whole lot easier, and on trend for the year.
Symbolizing new life, fertility and balance, any or all of the three 2013 green colors: emerald, grayed jade, and tender shoots, would make a perfect choice to help start your marriage off on the right foot. Read more about these hot 2013 colors here
Depending on what stage of the wedding planning process you’re in, whether you’re at square one, or well into the planning, you should be able to find something useful to help you plan your St. Paddy’s Day wedding below.
Some “Green” Tools to Help You Plan Your St. Patrick’s Day wedding
There are all sorts of various free online printable wedding planning checklists to get you started. Most people like keeping track of all the details in one tidy place, so if you are tired of writing everything on scraps of paper at the bottom of your purse, you might want to start by printing out some of the wedding planning checklists at The Knot, here, but as I said above, I want this to be your one-stop shop for all things Irish, so here are a few items you can click on and personalize your own way, like the Irish themed wedding planner binders and notebooks below, along with the FREE printable checklists mentioned above to make sure your party planning is done like a pro!
So, now that you have your wedding planning checklists and/or notebook handy, the real fun begins. If you are planning a St. Paddy’s Day wedding, I already know you are a fun couple, so let’s make sure that everyone you invite to your wedding knows what kind of fun they can expect to have. But before we get too carried away with the fun stuff, you might want to read up on some Irish wedding traditions here first, and see what you want to try to incorporate into your big day to keep with your theme.
History of St. Patrick’s Day Weddings
A large number of modern day wedding traditions take their lead from centuries old Irish customs. Many Irish wedding traditions stem from a persistent belief that mischievous fairies and evil spirits surround us at all times. The Irish took great pains to prevent them from getting an upper hand during the festivities and in the young couple’s new life together.
Irish brides have long carried an upturned horseshoe (to prevent the luck from falling out) on their wedding day to bring them good luck.
Originally, it was an actual horseshoe. Today, there are lovely porcelain varieties as well as cloth horseshoes worn on the wrist. I love the idea of carrying the horseshoe with your bouquet, like the one shown here. You could even have your flower girls or ring bearer carry it up the aisle in lieu of a ring pillow.
If those ideas don’t appeal to you, perhaps wearing a garter with a small horseshoe on it like the pretty one below would work better for you, which also has a blue ribbon (said to be lucky to wear on your wedding day) and is personalized with your names and wedding date.
After the ceremony, you should hang the horseshoe above your front door, with the ends facing up, to continue your good fortune.
Purpose of Irish Wedding Traditions
In general, most Irish wedding traditions had distinct purposes. There are those that were meant to ward off evil spirits and bad luck, and those which intended to promote a happy marriage and fertility.
There are many seemingly innocuous things that were assigned greater meaning, as portents of good or bad luck: Rain on one’s wedding day was considered good luck, as was marrying in the month of April. Crossing a funeral procession on the way to the wedding was considered bad luck, as was having a woman be the first to congratulate the bride.
Here are a few more interesting tidbits:
The night before the wedding:
- The brides family and relatives put the child of prague statue outside under a bush, to prevent it from raining on the wedding day.
On the morning of the wedding:
- It was lucky to hear a cuckoo on the wedding morning or to see three magpies.
- It’s lucky to be awakened by birds singing on the morning of your wedding.
- It’s lucky if a woman who is happily married puts the veil on the bride, and bad luck if the bride does it herself.
- Surprisingly, the bride should never wear green at her wedding, it is considered unlucky!
- If your wedding dress is accidentally torn on the day it will bring good luck.
- It’s good luck to have your birthstone in your engagement ring, even if that stone is otherwise thought to be an unlucky gem.
- The earrings you wear on your wedding day will bring you luck & happiness ever after.
On the way to the wedding:
- A man should always be the first to wish joy to the bride, never a woman.
- To meet a funeral on the road meant bad luck and if there was a funeral procession planned for that day, the wedding party always took a different road
- If the sun shone on the bride, it would bring good luck to the couple.
- If you look at the sun when you leave for your wedding, your children will be beautiful.
On the way from the wedding:
- It was considered good luck when the married couple would be leaving the church, somebody would throw an old shoe over the bride’s head.
- The wedding party should always take the longest road home from the church.
- Irish brides often returned home by a different path with her new husband than she took to the church with her father. This symbolizes her new road in life she is about to travel.
The Wedding Ceremony
Here are several traditional Irish wedding vows and blessings that you may want to add to your wedding program.
Traditional Irish Wedding Vows:
You may want to consider using this vow at your wedding ceremony.
By the power that Christ brought from heaven, mayst thou love me.
As the sun follows its course, mayst thou follow me.
As light to the eye, as bread to the hungry, as joy to the heart, may thy presence be with me, oh one that I love, till death comes to part us.
Irish Vow of Unity:
We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now,
Confirming this our Sacred Vow
Traditional Celtic Wedding Vow:
I vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine,
from this day it shall only your name I cry out in the night
and into your eyes that I smile each morning;
I shall be a shield for you back as you are for mine,
no shall a grievous word be spoken about us,
for our marriage is sacred between us and no stranger shall hear my grievance.
Above and beyond this, I will cherish and honor you through this life
and into the next.
Celtic Wedding Vow:
I pledge my love to you, and everything that I own.
I promise you the first bite of my meat and the first sip from by cup.
I pledge that your name will aways be the name I cry aloud in the dead of night.
I promise to honor you above all others.
Our love is never-ending, and we will remain, forevermore, equals in our marriage. This is my wedding vow to you.
Celtic Wedding Blessing:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
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 road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
Celtic Wedding Blessing:
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.
Celtic Wedding Blessing:
Happy is the bride that rain falls on
May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love.
Your lives are very special,
God has touched you in many ways.
May his blessings rest upon you
And fill all your coming days.
We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Hark, O Spirit, and hear us now,
Confirming this our Sacred Vow.
You are the star of each night,
You are the brightness of every morning,
You are the story of each guest,
You are the report of every land.
No evil shall befall you, on hill nor bank,
In field or valley, on mountain or in glen.
Neither above, nor below, neither in sea,
Nor on shore, in skies above,
Nor in the depths.
You are the kernel of my heart,
You are the face of my sun,
You are the harp of my music,
You are the crown of my company
Celtic Wedding Song:
There they stand, hand in hand, and exchange wedding bands.
Today is the day of all their dreams and plans.
And all of their loved ones are here to say,
God bless this couple who marry today.
In good times and bad times, in sickness and health,
May they know that riches aren’t needed for wealth.
Help them face problems they’ll meet on their way –
God bless this couple who marry today.
May they find peace of mind comes to all who are kind,
May the rough times ahead become triumphs in time,
May their children be happy each day –
God bless this family who started today.
As they go, may they know every love that was shown,
And as life it gets shorter may their feelings grow.
Wherever they travel, wherever they stay,
God bless this couple who marry today.
Medieval Celtic Wedding Ceremony:
I, N., take thee N to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, for fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.
I N. take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.
Irish Wedding Coin
After the blessing of the rings, during the marriage ceremony, the groom presents his bride with a silver coin and says “I give you this as a token of all I possess.” The coin symbolizes his willingness to share all that he has with his bride in the future. The coin is kept as a family heirloom and is passed down from mother to her eldest son on his wedding day.
The Salt Ceremony
The salt ceremony is typically held during the wedding ceremony; however, this tradition can also be held during the wedding reception or in a more intimate setting. During the salt ceremony, the bride and groom each hold a cup or jar of uncolored salt. When cued, they each pour the grains into a larger container. This must be done at the same time, so that the salt from each of their jars mixes together.
Before performing a salt ceremony at your wedding, check with the officiant to ensure she is comfortable leading the ceremony. Also, never color the grains of salt used in the process. Coloring the salt will make the grains more easily distinguishable from one another, which can take away from the symbolism that each person’s salt can never be separated or distinguished from one another again.
Symbolism of the Salt Ceremony
The salt ceremony symbolizes the couple’s total commitment to each other and their bond that can never be undone. By pouring the two separate jars of salt together, the couple are totally mixing the grains. It would be impossible to ever distinguish the salt as coming from one person or the others again, much as their commitment to each other before God can never be broken. Salt is the material of choice for this ceremony because of its uniformity.
History of the Salt Ceremony
The salt ceremony tradition has been incorporated into weddings for centuries. Many cultures consider salt to be the purest of all natural substances. Salt has also been seen as a symbol of other elements of life, such as permanence, purity and good luck. In the Bible, salt is mentioned in the expression “covenant of salt” in reference to the substance’s binding nature.
Handfasting is a simple and traditional ceremony used in Irish, Scottish, and Welsh weddings, which goes back to the medieval and renaissance period. The ritual includes a loose binding together of the couple’s hands, which also gave rise to the slang phrase “to tie the knot”. In olden days the priest or minister would wrap the clasped hands in the end of his stole to symbolize the trinity of marriage; man and woman joined by God. This symbolic binding together in marriage evolved into the practice of wrapping the clasped hands with a cord or an embroidered cloth, usually made especially for that purpose.
The Irish Grushie
The tradition of tossing a handful of coins to the wedding guests is thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the groom and his bride.
Irish Wedding Customs
No wedding tradition is quite so steeped in Irish history as the honeymoon. The very word ‘honeymoon’ has its origins in the Irish ‘mi na meala’ or ‘month of honey’ which referred to the first lunar month after the wedding.
Honeymoons started off as an Irish wedding tradition that was meant to bring the bride and groom success, happiness and fertility. But the tradition didn’t include travel plans like it does today. It is traditional for Irish newlyweds to drink a honeyed wine on their wedding day, and then again every day for a month following the wedding.
The honeyed wine, which is a type of mead (a brew made of fermented honey), was believed to improve fertility. If a couple had a baby nine months after getting married, the pregnancy was attributed to the mead. Drinking the wine for the month following the wedding was thought to offer the bride protection from being spirited off by fairies.
Friends and family often presented the wedding couple with enough mead (honey wine) to last through this first month, along with special goblets to toast each other.
Consider filling your wedding day toasting flutes with Bunratty Mead, a blend of white wine, honey and herbs recipethat was lost for centuries amidst the tumult that followed the middle ages.
The secret recipe for authentic Irish Meade was found just a few decades ago and is now made available by the Bunratty Mead and Liqueur Co. in County Clare, who are once again making the drink “fit for kings”.
Today, it is still the tradition to signal the end of the wedding feast by raising glasses of Meade (American spelling) to toast the newlyweds.
Irish Wedding Toast
An interactive toast by a male family member paired with guest responses is a common Irish wedding tradition. Guests and bridal party members toast with mead.
It is said to be unlucky for a woman to congratulate the newlyweds with a toast before a man does, so when planning your Irish wedding, designate one man to extend a toast right away.
Humorous or tender, Irish toasts and blessings can be written on small note cards placed in a decorative basket that reception guests can draw from. Read aloud and signed by its presenter, each card becomes a cherished souvenir for the newlyweds. Examples of traditional Irish wedding toasts are:
- May there always be work for your hands to do.
- May your purse always hold a coin or two.
- May the sun always shine on your window pane.
- May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
- May the hand of a friend always be near you.
- May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
At an Irish wedding reception, the toasts are a time for all guests to wish the bride and groom well, and for important people in the couple’s life to say a few words. The father of the bride speaks first and expresses his sadness to have his daughter leave him, as well as his pride and happiness for her marriage. The groom speaks afterward on behalf of himself and the bride, and thanks everyone for their attendance. He may also present both his mother and mother-in-law with flowers or a small gift for their assistance in putting the ceremony and reception together.
The bride and groom should honor the person who introduced them to each other with a special toast at the wedding. This tradition stems from the days when a matchmaker had that role.
The wedding party gathers around the bride and groom. All fill their glasses with mead and the newly wedded couple recites an Irish toast:
“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.”
Consider adding this toast to the menu or the place cards, to help your guests to remember their lines.
Bestman and Bridesmaid:
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.
Some Irish wedding traditions have nothing to do with superstition, and everything to do with custom. Braiding is a very Irish fashion. Irish brides often wore their hair braided to represent power and luck, wore braided wreaths of flowers on their heads and sported braided cording on the fabric of their dresses. This can easily be incorporated into a modern wedding.
A Celtic Tradition has it that every couple should receive a bell as a wedding gift. The bell is placed in the newlywed’s home. When a disagreement takes place, one of the couple rings the bell to end the discord and declare a truce without an admission of fault. The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away, restore harmony if a couple is fighting, and also remind a couple of their wedding vows.
You could also have your greeters hand out tiny bells to your guests to ring. (You might want to let them know when they’re supposed to be rung – perhaps mention it in your program along with an explanation of the custom). Guests could also ring their little bells at the reception in lieu of clinking glasses.
While bridal fashions in Ireland resemble the rest of the Western world, one distinctly Irish touch is Irish lace. Try to incorporate this beautiful fabric into a gown or veil.
If that’s too expensive, consider carrying a lace handkerchief in your bridal bag or hand them out as attendant gifts. Many Irish brides carry a simple handkerchief “the Magic hankie” with them down the aisle. This handkerchief is later sewn into a bonnet for the baby to wear on its Christening day. The stitches are later removed, restoring it to it’s original function as a hankie, to be carried down the aisle when the daughter herself becomes a bride.
Of course we can’t forget the shamrocks! The term “shamrock” derives from the Irish word, seamrog, which translates as “little clover.” Rather vague, considering that there are many kinds of clovers — and even more plants that can pass as clovers to the layman. Consequently, in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations a number of plants serve as Irish shamrocks.
Identifying a particular plant as the one and only true Irish shamrock is a dubious practice, botanically speaking. Clover has a trifoliate leaf structure, i.e., a compound leaf with three leaflets. The number 3, of course, is significant in the Christian religion, because of the doctrine of the Trinity. Irish legend has it that the missionary, Saint Patrick demonstrated the principle behind the Trinity using a shamrock, pointing to its three leaflets united by a common stalk. But there is no way of determining with certainty the exact plant referred to in the legend.
This much we can say about Irish shamrocks, however. By definition, for a clover to represent the Trinity, it would have to bear 3 (and only 3) leaves. So for all the good luck they allegedly bring, 4-leaf clovers technically can’t be considered shamrocks (not in the sense that St. Patrick made the latter famous, at least). It was the Druids (Celtic priests) who elevated four leaf clovers to the status of good-luck charms, allegedly potent against malevolent spirits. Their status as Celtic charms is the origin of the modern belief in their power to bestow good luck.
I do love the significance of the four-leaf clover; one leaf for hope, one for faith, one for love and one for luck. In the middle ages, it was believed that if you found a four-leaf clover, not only did it bring you luck but you would be blessed with the ability to see fairies and sprites. This lore led children to hunt the fields for the magical four-leaf clover and enter the realm of the fantasy world. Green has traditionally been associated with spring and new growth so it is a very appropriate color for your wedding and celebrating your new growth as a couple. For more information on shamrocks, please visit here.
Irish Wedding Jewelry
Celtic Knot Wedding Bands
Consider Celtic-style wedding bands. They are used by some people claiming Irish or Scottish descent. This style of wedding band will often be engraved or embossed with a Celtic knot design, which is meant to symbolize oneness and continuity.
The ancient Celts based their artwork on geometric shapes, and it is estimated that there are eight basic pattern types. Although the exact meaning of Celtic Knot work is not known, the patterns are commonly considered as representations of the way that life interconnects in an endless cycle.
Irish Claddagh Wedding Band
Some other specifically Irish wedding traditions include the jewelry that is worn by the bride. The Irish Claddagh, Gra, Dilseacht, Cairdeas, Pronounced: graw, deel-shockt, korr-djass, meaning: Love, Loyalty, Friendship, or Irish wedding band, as it is popularly known in the United States, depicts two hands, holding a heart, topped by a crown to symbolize fidelity.
Traditionally, a woman would wear this ring on her right hand, with the heart facing outward to indicate that she was romantically unattached. Turning the heart to face the wearer suggests that the woman is in a romantic relationship. Moving the ring to the left hand, with the heart facing outward is an indication that the woman is engaged, and finally, turning the heart to face the woman while the ring is on the left hand symbolizes that she is married.
Birthstone Wedding Rings
Not all Irish brides wore, or will wear a claddagh though. For those opting for other styles, it is considered to be very lucky for the bride’s wedding ring to contain her birthstone. Even stones that were typically considered unlucky are believed to bring luck when they are included in the bride’s wedding band.
The Gimmel ring is a unique version of a claddagh. In the middle ages and at least until the time of Shakespeare (early 1600′s), it was customary for couples to use a gimmel ring to signify their commitment. A gimmel ring has two or three interlocking rings, which, when together, look like a single ring. The Irish version of this, the Claddagh Gimmel has two clasped hands, which, when opened, reveal a heart.
For centuries it was known as the betrothal ring symbolizing the promise of a future together, sealed with the giving and accepting of a ring. During the engagement, one part was worn by the bride, one by the groom, and the third by a witness. It was reunited as the bride’s wedding ring, on the day of their marriage. When the couple married, the three sections of the ring were united once more, the ring was used in the ceremony, and the bride wore it from then on. Two become one: what better symbol for a marriage?
Another traditional piece of Irish jewelry is the Tara Brooch, created during the Bronze Age. Legend has it, the high kings of Ireland wore this brooch design.
If you are planning a winter wedding, consider a white cloak over your gown, fastened with a replica of the Tara Brooch.
St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Stationery
Now that you are all caught up on some Irish traditions and customs, we can start sorting through some of the steps required to make sure people know all about your upcoming nuptials.
St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Save the Date Announcements
Some people know well in advance about their wedding plans, so they often choose to send out advance notice of their upcoming wedding with a save the date card or magnet. These are especially helpful if you are having a destination wedding, like at a castle in Ireland, a castle in New York, or a castle in Rhode Island. If people need to travel great distances, it’s best to provide them with as much notice as you can, especially if it’s during peak summer or Christmas seasons, so people can plan accordingly.
Below, I’ve selected several postcards, magnets, and invitation style save the date cards from Zazzle because they are so easily customizable and inexpensive. They even have U.S. postage that you can put an engagement photo on, or personalize however you want.
St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Invitations
So now, you’ve sent out your save the dates and hopefully have seen some invitations and colors you like along the way. The invitations are a perfect way to give your guests a sense of who you are as a couple, and what sort of wedding you’ll be having. Does your budget allow for boxed and beribboned letterpress invitations, or would you rather spend your money on the honeymoon? Well, chances are pretty good that if you are reading this, then you haven’t hired the wedding event planner to the Stars, so I’ll just gear this to people on modest budgets.
Nowadays, many people are going the do-it-yourself route, either using their own crafting ability, or someone else’s. If you aren’t too handy with a glue gun, or if your calligraphy skills are a tad rusty, there are several different ways you can go. You can go the route of cheap and unoriginal and buy a 50 pack at a business supply store and print them at home on your inkjet printer, or for a little bit more, try your hand at using one of the print-on-demand sites like Zazzle, where you can search through thousands of designs, and get a designer invitation that you can customize how you want.
I’ve showcased some below that I hope you’ll like. Remember too that with most of the designs on Zazzle, you can contact the designer to have them do the personalization for you, or they will often make small changes to a design upon your request. Custom designs are also possible, for a small fee. You could even contact the designer to have them add a line or two of Irish language (a version of Gaelic) into the invitation, perhaps by including a quote, a line of poetry, or an Irish Blessing translated into both Irish and English.
Now, a St. Patrick’s Day wedding doesn’t have to be all clichéd green beer and leprechauns. There are several aspects of an Irish themed wedding that can carry over to your St. Patty’s Day theme, such as the use of the Celtic Love Knot and Irish Blessings, which are a plenty! If you want to send out a more traditional and reserved wedding invitation, with maybe a nice Irish Blessing that means something to you both, you can customize the following invitations to add the blessing, or contact the designer and ask them to do it for you.
Personally, with things that I mail out, I like everything to co-ordinate, so I’d want all the bells and whistles to really make my invitation a show-stopper and original in every way. Assuming you would like that too, here are a few necessities that will complete the look of your invitation; like the envelopes, postage, return labels, and envelope seals. I would love to get a package like that, wouldn’t you?
Understandably though, not everyone can afford all the bells and whistles for their wedding stationery, which makes it harder, but not impossible, to find an impressive ensemble. Another big benefit to using a print-on-demand site like Zazzle, is that they have very large bulk discounts on their products, so instead of paying $2.80 per invitation, that price can drop to $1.40, which may mean that the basic paper you budgeted for can now be the higher end metallic paper instead, or maybe you’ll now be able to choose a linen invitation and buy the matching linen envelope instead of using the one that comes free with the Zazzle invitation.
Whatever your budget, try to stick to it. It is so easy to fall into the “its the most important day of your life” trap. People sometimes lose their senses and throw caution to the wind and end up so far in debt that all they’re able to afford to do for the next five years is look through photo albums and recall how much fun they used to have. No one wants that, especially since I know you enjoy your fun times by wanting to use this wedding theme.
Here are some extra little touches that you can add to your outgoing St. Patrick’s Day wedding invitation to take it from bland to grand!
Alright, so now we are back on track, having sent out the greatest St. Paddy’s Day wedding invitations we could find within our budget. The phone calls start rolling in, telling you what awesome invitations you sent, and how cute that custom photo postage is that you used. Seriously, it is! Here, take another look at some.
Now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty, to all the details that will make your event so spectacular that they will be talking about it for generations, or at least until your next big soiree!
I’m going to assume that you will be using some shade of green in your wedding. I know that’s a stretch, but call me gifted that way. I think you can go in several different ways with your decor, flowers, centerpieces etc.
Keep in mind that it is said to be bad luck for the bride to wear green on her wedding day, but then its also said that you should wear green for good luck on St. Patrick’s Day, so what do you do? I guess that depends on how superstitious you are. Personally, I wouldn’t give it another thought, but then I don’t have an old Irish Grandma to warn me off of wearing green.
I think if you really have your heart set on wearing that mint green wedding gown, by Romona Keveza you could easily balance the luck in your favor by carrying a lucky horseshoe in your bouquet AND wearing the horseshoe garter.
Prior to the adoption of white wedding dresses, Irish brides of ancient times wore a blue dress to signify purity. Here’s a gorgeous blue wedding gown I found. It might be hard to find a shade of green for your bridesmaids to wear though.
Below, I’ve chosen a number of wedding gowns that I think would work well with an Irish wedding, and are on trend for 2013, which is calling for vintage, lace, and romance.
If you plan on buying a wedding gown online, I would suggest that you first go to a bridal store and try on a variety of styles, even the ones that you think won’t suit you, as chances are good that it’ll be the one you end up going with after trying on about 600 other gowns. Yes, I speak from experience. If you think ruching (pleating) around your waist will add girth, think again! Diagonal ruching is a very flattering style that you may not have considered an option if you tend to be a little thicker through the middle. Some of the dress styles I chose below were specifically because of the belts and sashes on them that can be changed out to a color from your scheme.
St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Bridesmaid and Flower Girl Dresses
You probably have some idea of what wedding colors you want to use, so its a good idea to make sure that all your bridesmaids can wear the colors that you want them to. Not everyone will be cut out to wear the pea soup green that you really like, so seeing it on them might convince you that throwing in a second, third, or more color choices of dress might be the way to go.
Green is so versatile that you have many options available for the dresses and decor. Looking at nature may help you refine your choices of colors too, so take a walk in a garden and see what looks great together there and then try to achieve the same look.
If you do decide that you want to mix and match your bridesmaid dresses, try to keep them all looking cohesive somehow, so it isn’t too chaotic. Some contrast is nice, but you don’t want everyone’s eyes darting from color to color to color. You want them to be on you! Oh yes, and the groom too.
It is customary for grooms and his attendants to wear traditional Celtic kilts during the wedding ceremony and reception. Not only is wearing a kilt a tradition in Irish weddings, but is also important to display family heritage. If you’ve already decided that the groom and groomsmen will be wearing kilts you may be able to use colors that are in that to use for the bridesmaids and flower girl attire.
Since green is such a hot color for 2013, I’m going to just focus on that color for the wedding party. Below you will see a variety of styles and colors that would work great for a St. Patrick’s Day wedding.
St. Patrick’s Day or Irish Wedding Food
When choosing the foods for your reception, don’t feel like you have to go all out with the green food coloring. Why not take a different approach and serve traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, coddle, salmon and colcannon, which is a mix of potatoes and cabbage,bread pudding, and soda bread.
Of course, no Irish wedding celebration would be complete without the Guiness!
Irish Wedding Cake
The top tier of the cake was a whiskey cake and was not to be eaten at the wedding; the bride and groom had to save it until the Christening of their firstborn. Additionally, they were supposed to save a slice of the cake to be eaten on their first wedding anniversary.
Depending on the recipe, an Irish wedding cake may need to sit for several months before it is ready to be eaten, so plan accordingly.
A bride’s cake is served to the single ladies. A trinket of choice, such as a silver Claddagh or Celtic design ring, is hidden under the top layer of frosting. The young lady receiving that slice is destined as the next bride.
I think some people can get carried away in thinking that more layers equals more style, but that’s simply not the case. If your budget allows you to have the cake of your dreams, wonderful. If not, you can still make a smaller cake be a show-stopper by using stylish table decor with it. You can also decorate the area around the cake table with pillars, tulle, flowers, arches, lighting, candles etc.
Keep in mind that you will have lots of photos taken of you cutting the cake, so plan the location for your cake table well, and make sure the surrounding area is also picture-worthy. Add fabric draping to the wall behind to conceal anything unsightly.
Plan to have some of the large flower arrangements from the church brought to the reception hall and place them on a couple on pillars beside the cake table to further “dress” that area, and save on your flowers budget.
You can rent iron arches from most wedding rental locations, and then you can add tulle and bows, flowers, and string lights, such as the shamrock lights shown later in this post to make the cake table area really stand out, whether you have a three layer cake or a twelve layer cake.
If you want to break with tradition and have a dessert other than Irish wedding cake, you could always choose ever-popular cupcakes with swirled green frosting like the ones shown here, or make up the 7 layer cake also shown here (left) by using increasing amounts of green food coloring in each bowl of white cake batter.
Bake each layer on a cookie sheet and then use a 3″-4″ cookie cutter to cut out each little round layer and then make individual cakes for your guests by piling seven cake layers on top of each other with icing or whipped cream between the layers.
Having something unique and fun like this would certainly be memorable, but if its too non-traditional for you, consider using it for your rehearsal dinner, or at your bridal shower.
You can even use the leftover scraps to make cake pops by breaking the extra cake pieces into crumbs with your food processor and then rolling them into balls. then just ice them and add some sprinkles and a stick, and you have a few more things to add to your sweets and candy buffet.
Bouquets and Centerpieces for a St. Patrick’s Day Wedding
The flowers of particularly the bride’s bouquet are chosen with great care. This bouquet is carried down the aisle at the start of the ceremony. Then, before the couple leaves for their honeymoon, it is customary for the bride to toss her bouquet to the group of unmarried ladies attending the wedding. The maiden fortunate enough to catch the bouquet is the next one expected to marry.
In ancient times, flowers and spices carried in the bride’s bouquet or hair were yet another way to ward off evil spirits from the ceremony. English lavender mixed in the bouquet symbolized love, devotion, and purity. Herbs worn in the bride’s hair stood for her fidelity to her new husband. Instead of a veil, some brides wore a wreath of wildflowers in their hair. Some brides and their bridesmaids carried myrtle.
After the ceremony, the bridesmaids planted the myrtle. If the plant grew and thrived, the bridesmaid would herself marry before the end of the year. Today, ivy is commonly seen in bridal bouquets. A sign of fidelity, it is often planted after the ceremony for a lasting keepsake for the couple. In days of old, a seedling was often planted on the morning of the wedding ceremony so that it would grow and thrive along with the marriage.
The addition of a sprig of rosemary to the bridal bouquet or flower arrangements to remember a deceased loved one is another example of a tradition that has been carried through the ages.
Be sure to add a shamrock for extra luck, or wrap it in the “magic hanky” mentioned above. Don’t forget to adorn your bouquet with a horseshoe, in keeping with Irish superstitions to guarantee good luck. Here are a few photos for inspiration.
St Patrick’s Day Wedding Reception Decor
You could stick to an entirely green color palette and just use various shades of green that you like, but that might be a bit of green overload, especially if you plan on using green lighting, which you may want to reconsider, unless you want everyone to look like they’re seasick. Instead, maybe choose the shade of green that you like best, like Kelly green, emerald, or moss and then pair that with white, ivory, pale yellow, brown, black, or gold. You could also add several colors to give you a wider palette to decorate with too.
Since you’ve already sent out your gorgeous wedding invitations, you know where your venues will be, so you can start deciding how you want to dress those locations to match with your St. Patrick’s day wedding theme.
There are several ways you can go to incorporate traditional St. Patty’s day decorations. You can go completely over the top and fill the space with shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold, with vats of green beer flowing freely, which would certainly be memorable, but it might feel less like a wedding than you’d like, and it might confuse your wedding guests and leave them wondering if they are at a St. Patty’s day party or a wedding. Perhaps you want your theme to have subtle St. Patrick’s day decorations, which could be easily achieved.
I’ve selected a few things from amazon that you might be interested in. I love the Irish street signs pictured in number 1 below. I think they would work really well for table seating assignments. You could attach them to the front of the tables, or stand them under your centerpieces for a quaint Irish touch. I also love the green dangling ornaments pictured in number 3 below. They would look amazing hanging from a tall vase of flowers with candles lit below them to make them sparkle. They could also be used as gifts for your guests, either as a table raffle or as favors to each couple. Just tie pretty ribbons and a favor tag to them, hang them on the vases and remind your guests to take them home at the end of the night. You could also hang them from lighted twig trees scattered around your venue. You could also hang them from a floral arch, or on your card box.
The other item I really think has a lot of potential for a wow factor is the roll of green bling, pictured in number 9 below. For a really glamorous look, wrap your centerpiece vases with the green “jewels” and set lit candles beside them to help them sparkle even more. If you are having a tall tiered wedding cake, you may even be able to wrap a couple of layers with it too.
Here’s where you can find the cool stuff in the picture above.
- Irish street Signs
- Tissue Balls
- Shamrock Ornament
- Satin Table Runner
- Green Paper Lantern
- Green Paper Lantern Small
- Green Frangipani Lights
- Green Embroidered Table Runner
- Green Chair Ties
- Green Rhinestone Ribbon
- Green Yellow Ball Lights
- Green Favor Box
- Green Tulle Bolt
- Shamrock Christmas Lights
- Shamrock Cut-out
- Shamrock Garland
The green paper lanterns would work great at a more casual or rustic venue, or at an outdoor wedding. You could even hang the dangling ornaments below them and have the lights from the lantern light up the ornaments, which would send beautiful green sparkling lights all over the venue. If you are using the lanterns for an outdoor wedding, consider using mason jars filled with flowers for a nice country feeling.
With so many choices of colors to pair with green, it is quite hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top five, with the #1 spot going to green, black, and white. A close second and third would be pink and green together, and turquoise blue and green. Rounding out 4th spot is purple and green together. For anyone not afraid of color, just do an Internet search on those wedding color combinations and I think you’ll find something to fall in love with. The 5th color combination is an after thought actually, but its such an obvious one for this post that I have no idea why it never occurred to me initially. The colors are the three colors in the flag of Ireland: green, white, and orange. I found a couple gorgeous inspiration boards in those colors that I’ll reveal at the very end of this post.
Black and White Mixed with Green
Source for above images: http://www.favorsandflowers.com/royal-elegance-wedding-collection.htm, http://www.projectwedding.com/photo/browse?photo_to_show=357072&tag=white+green+black+inspiration+board, http://www.etsy.com/listing/113186252/wedding-bridal-ivory-black-lime-green, http://www.salmonsrentals.com/gallery/wedding/
Black and white is a timeless color scheme that adds drama and sophistication to any event. If you are planning on using black, white, and green as a color scheme, consider using a chic black and white damask pattern and then use the green color to contrast nicely with it.
You could use a black and white damask table runner over crisp white linens, and then run a wide band of green satin ribbon or a narrower fabric runner down the length of the damask runner to pick up the green in your centerpieces, chair cover sashes, and other accessories, such as votives, napkins, table number cards, place cards etc.
You can carry that look right through your whole venue by designing the wedding cake in a similar fashion, or adding a candy buffet table that is all decked out in black and white damask with your candies and other sweets displayed on a mix of green trays and apothecary jars. Have some green boxes or bags handy, along with stickers that can be used to seal the bags with.
Here are a few stationery items you might be interested in if this is your color scheme.
Do it Yourself (DIY) St. Paddy’s Day Wedding Decor Ideas
You don’t have to have any experience to do some things. If you really want white twig trees, but can’t afford them, make them yourself! Trek out to the woods and round up armfuls of twigs. Take them home, air dry them out well, and then spray paint them whatever color you want.
The same thing can apply to your centerpieces. Head on down to the dollar store and buy some wooden frames and small easels that you can paint to match your scheme and use for table names or to create an assortment of photos that show you and your intended.
The dollar store also can be a great spot to find cheap glassware. Just look what a dollar store find can look like with a little imagination. These stacked bowls all have orchids in them, but that can be changed, according to what your budget will allow.
You could fill the bottom bowl with green decorative glass, the middle bowl with Irish moss and some battery operated string lights, and then use the top one to have some orchids, roses, or big green hydrangea heads.
Better yet, add some green dyed carnations like these ones from Martha Stewart. You’ll also find the instructions here: How to color carnations.
You’ll save a mint by doing some things yourself, especially where flowers are concerned.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to make your own pew or row markers for at the ceremony. You can purchase small clay pots or tin buckets and then paint those the colors you want. Add some flower oasis and then just add flowers and a decorative ribbon that ties over the pew or chair. For a fancier look, use styrofoam or oasis balls inside the pots and then either use fresh flower heads or glue on silk ones to cover the entire ball.
Or, how about a pew cone like the one pictured here, which would look great with the green, black, and white scheme I talked about earlier.
Cut the patterned paper about a 1/2″ smaller than the solid black color so when you roll it up you’ll have a nice black edge where you can attach the bow and the ribbon to tie around the pew.
Then just add those plastic water reservoirs you can get from the florist to your flowers and place them in the cone.
Another way to add interest to your venue is to add a little mood lighting like the one pictured to the right using a glass block and a decorative bow. You can purchase glass blocks at your local home improvement store. You’ll also need a drill and a drill bit that will work on glass.
Then just drill a hole big enough to push a string of any color lights into the block. You can even buy frosted glass blocks, which would made the lighting more subdued. This would be a way to add some green lighting that wouldn’t be too over-powering.
You can add a fancy bow to the block, or some other embellishment to it and then place them in darker areas of your venue. After the wedding you can re-use them to decorate around your home over the holidays. Just change out the lighting colors.
A fun trend in weddings is to have a photo booth where your guests can dress up in silly hats and glasses and take photos of themselves or with the happy couple. With the St. Patrick’s day wedding theme, I can’t think of anything more fun than a photo booth using the items shown below. Just imagine what a laugh your friends and family will have!
You could purchase these items, but they would be very easy to create yourself using barbecue skewers, some felt, and some heavy weight construction paper.
There are several legends that are responsible for the mysticism surrounding the stone. One legend says that the Lord of Muscry in 14th or 15th century Ireland was in danger of being prosecuted at court. He prayed to the goddess Clíodhna, queen of the hill fairies, for help. She told him to kiss the first stone he saw on his way to court and he will be spared. Thereafter, Lord Muscry was endowed with great eloquence and persuasiveness in speech, and won his case at court.
Using salt dough (a simple craft often used to make Christmas ornaments) found here, you can make up little packets to give your guests as a fun little keepsake that they can kiss for luck whenever they need the gift of gab. You might want to have one handy as people get up to make various toasts and speeches too, just to make sure they don’t stray off topic and leave you red-faced with embarassment while they re-hash your prior love life.
Another thing you can make yourself could be either used as your signature drink or as a wedding favor. What better place to offer some truly Irish beverages than at your St. Patrick’s day wedding? Most modern weddings now have signature drinks that the couple chooses to create/design themselves. It can be anything from shooters to cocktails. So for your Irish wedding, how about offering Irish Flag shooters like the one pictured here, made with your own home made Irish Cream.
Irish Flag Cocktail
- 1/2 oz Creme de Menthe
- 1/2 oz Homemade Irish Cream
- 1/2oz Grand Marnier
Layer liquors in cordial glass or shot glass in order above.
- 2 cups Irish Whiskey (Any Irish Whiskey will do, I used Jameson’s)
- 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Chocolate syrup ( Hershey’s, Torani, etc…)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract
Step 1: Combine all ingredients into blender and mix on high for 30 seconds.
Step 2: Bottle and refrigerate until needed.
The Irish cream would also make terrific wedding favors. Bottle it in small bottles like the one pictured above, add some ribbon and a favor tag, and send your guests home with something they’ll get more use out of than some decorative soap or bauble. I think they will appreciate the time and effort you put into creating such a nice favor too.
Here’s a little FREE St. Patrick’s Day Irish Cream recipe card printable that you can attach to the bottle in case your guests want to make their own.
Some other specialty green drink recipes can be found here and include the following: Emerald Isle, Green Mist, Green Goblin, Zen Master, Green Apple martini.
For those people who are not drinking, but still want to join in on the festivities, here are a few non-alcoholic recipes:
Green Grape Glacier, Mattoni Secret, The Director.
And let’s not forget about the green beer. Here are some instructions on how to make green beer.
St. Patrick’s Day or Irish Wedding Essentials
Here’s where you can find the cool stuff in the picture above.
- Celtic Charm Unity Candle Set
- Celtic Knot Charm Toasting Flutes
- Celtic Charm Flower Girl Basket
- Celtic Claddagh Cake Toppers
- Deluxe Claddagh Celtic Cross – Unity Candle Set with 2 Tapers
- Royal Elegance Wedding Collection
- Lucky Horseshoe Cake Top
- Irish Claddagh Guest Book
- Petite Brocade Wedding Card Box
- Celtic Charm Traditional Guest Book
- Celtic Charm Traditional Guest Book
- Celtic Charm White Linen Ring Pillow
- Celtic Charm Cake Serving Set
Some of the items you’ll want to plan for are a guest book and pen, a flower girl basket, a ring bearer pillow, toasting flutes, cake cutting utensils, unity candles and stand (if using), salt/sand ceremony bottles/vases (if using), a card box for envelopes, a cake topper, and Wedding Programs or Order of Service booklets. Also, don’t forget to have a fancy pen to sign the registry with. Believe me, a blue Bic pen will really stand out in all your nice wedding photos of you signing the registry. Here are a few customizable wedding programs.
Now, you’re almost to the end of your wedding preparations. Next, let’s move on to the wedding favors, just in case you don’t want to provide alcohol as a favor, as mentioned earlier.
St. Patrick’s Day or Irish Wedding Favors
There is an endless supply of wedding favor websites that you can browse through. Trust me on that, as I’ve scoured the Internet looking for wedding favors that would work well with your St. Patrick’s Day wedding theme. Take a look at 15 of the ones I like best below:
Here’s where you can find the cool stuff in the photo above.
- Personalized Ivory Box
- Two Peas in a Pod Salt and Pepper Shakers
- Shamrock Trinity Knot Wine Stopper
- Personalized Shamrock Shaped Petals
- Shamrock candle holder favor
- Personalized Pedestal Wedding Favor Box
- Irish Personalized Bookmark Favors
- Clover Garden Sprinkles
- Irish Personalized Favor Box
- Personalized Shooter Glass
- Shamrock Green Cookie Cutters
- Personalized Irish Organza Bags
- Leprechaun Hat Personalized Mint Tins
- Frosted Shamrock Votive
- Shamrock Shaped Container with Mints
Now, how cute are those two peas in a pod pictured in the #2 spot? The personalized shamrock favor tags in spot #4 would look great attached to whatever favors you choose. You can pre-fill the personalized shot glass in spot #10 with one of the signature drinks I mentioned earlier and then the guests can just take them home afterwards. Same with the green shamrock votive candles pictured in the #5 spot. they can adorn your tables and be raffled off in pairs, or give them out as favors at the end of the night. Be sure to keep a couple for yourself for your anniversaries. I also really like the shamrock shaped cookie cutter favor pictured in spot #11. You can add a custom recipe card to it with a ribbon, or add it to an organza bag.
Here is an adorable little treat that I cam across that I think could make some really fun favors for your St. Patrick’s Day wedding… custom made green and white M & M candies. Or, just add them to your candy buffet or have big bowls of them on each table for your guests to snack on.
I’ve also compiled some favors, favor tags, and favor stickers from Zazzle that I thought you might like.
St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Thank You Cards
Now, next on our list of things to cross off the to-do list are the thank yous. Some people say that giving out a wedding favor is the thank you, but really that’s the thank you for the guest being in attendance at your wedding. I still think you need to send out written thank you cards to the guests who not only came, but also gave you a gift, which really is not a requirement at all.
Some people also believe that you have up to a year to send out your thank you cards, but I’d say it would be best to get those out within 3-4 months after the wedding. That’s plenty of time to get back the wedding photos which you may want to include with some thank you cards.
Of course an even better way to send out a thank you card is to send one that is pre-printed with your wedding photo and thank you message right on it, which would save you the hassle of getting photo prints made and then hand-writing out all those cards. You could even get flexible magnets made up with your photo, names, and wedding date on it to include with the thank you cards for some select people. I’ve compiled some more Zazzle products that you can personalize and customize with your own information and/or photo.
St. Patrick’s Day or Irish Wedding Party Gifts
Don’t forget the wedding party when you are planning your thank you gifts. Whether you have a big budget or a small budget you’ll need to set aside funds and time to look for suitable and well thought out gifts for your wedding party attendants.
As with the rest of this post, I scoured the “Inter-web” to find just the right things for your St. Patrick’s Day wedding party gifts. What would be better than giving them authentic Irish gifts, like real Connemara marble, as is pictured in photos 6, 9, and 8 below. The famous green-white marble of Connemara is found only in the area around Clifden in western Ireland, and the Walsh family has been making fine jewelry from it for three generations. The stone products below are handmade by experienced artisans at the family’s workshop in Rathfarnham Village, Dublin, who select complementary pieces of marble, then shape and polish them. Or how about the silver-plated heart shaped pendant with a real four-leaf clover in it, imported from Ireland, shown in photo 10.
Here’s where you can find the cool products shown in the image above.
- Sláinte Shamrock Flask
- Personalized Pocket Watch
- Irish Claddagh Jewelry
- Celtic Pewter Flask
- Celtic Pewter Money Clip
- Connemara Marble and Silver Irish Charm Bracelets
- Shamrock Key Ring
- Irish Connemara Marble Trinket Box
- Irish Connemara Marble Compact
- Irish Heart Pendant with Four-Leaf Clover
- Gold Plated Claddagh Jewelry
- Celtic Pearl Jewelry
- Celtic Pocket Watch
- Friendship, Laughter, Love – Bracelet with Celtic Knot Heart
- Claddagh & Shamrock Love, Loyalty, Friendship
- Luck of the Irish Golf Balls
- Monogrammed Heart Charm Bracelet
- Shamrock Key Ring Charm
I compiled a selection of Zazzle products that are customizable so you can personalize them with names and dates as a lasting memento of your big day.
Search For Love Word Search Activity
You could have them rolled up in a basket at the church and pass them out as guests leave, or better yet, roll them up and tie them with a ribbon and attach a small golf pencil to them and sit them at the place settings to give your guests something to do while you are taking photos.
Irish or St. Patrick’s Day Wedding Inspiration Boards
Well, you have finally reached the end of this blog post. As promised, I’d like to end with a few inspiration boards using the color green and some of my favorite colors to use with it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post and maybe picked up a little knowledge and/or information along the way.
Here is a pink and green inspiration board that I think is so beautiful.
Here is an inspiration board using the turquoise blue and lime green that I think makes a lovely look too.
Purple and Green can make such a gorgeous color palette when the right shades are chosen. Just look how wonderful everything looks on this inspiration board.
And now, without further adieu, here are the pride of Ireland wedding inspiration boards. With the hot wedding colors of 2013 including three shades of green and two shades of orange, it would be an ideal year to incorporate your Irish heritage into your wedding theme.
And with that….
Erin Go Bragh – Ireland Forever!
Image sources for the main collage image at the top of this post:
Vicki is the owner and Graphic Designer of the online business NiteOwl Studio Inc. which specializes in all occasion paper goods for all of life’s great milestone events, including weddings, anniversaries, sweet sixteens, quinceaneras, bat/bar mitzvahs, birthdays, graduations, and bridal showers. In addition to the special occasion stationery collections, Vicki also enjoys designing unique and affordable personalized gifts and accessories for everyday use. Working with clients on custom designs is also something that Vicki finds very rewarding, often working throughout the night until the design is exactly how a client wants it, hence the name NiteOwl Studio.