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The Celtic Wedding 

(Ireland, Scotland, Wales )

 

A popular wedding theme is the Celtic Wedding.  

Many of the traditions we have today originated from this era.  

Whether you are interested in conducting your entire wedding around this theme or simply incorporating some of the aspects of the Celtic Wedding into your own style, you will enjoy perusing the Celtic Wedding page and picturing some of the wonderful traditions the Celts both yesterday and today enjoy!

The Few Days Before the Wedding
During the fortnight before the wedding, the wedding traditions were plentiful, creating a whirlwind of activity similar to today. These wedding customs include a Show of Gifts, Receiving of Crockery, and the Make Up Bell.

Show of Gifts
As a wedding tradition, good friends and family expected to be invited in for a showing. Any gifts received by the bride were laid out on her bed. Money gifts were not displayed, just an envelope with the givers name on it.

Receiving of Crockery
An older wedding tradition was for the neighbors to give gifts of crockery to the bride. The number of jugs she received determined her status. So they were put on display before the wedding, for all to see and count.

The Make Up Bell
A wedding tradition gift was a decorative bell. The bell was placed in a convenient spot in the home. Whenever an argie-bargie was unresolved, if either the hain or wifie, this is husband or wife, rang the bell, it signaled an end to the quarrel, with neither party being held responsible.

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INTRODUCTION
STAG AND HEN PARTIES
RESPONSIBILITIES
BRIDAL ATTIRE
WEDDING FLOWERS
THE WEDDING RINGS

CELTIC WEDDING CEREMONY

THE Ceilidh (WEDDING RECEPTION)
Wedding Favours

SPECIAL DANCES

TRADITIONAL CEREMONIES
 TOASTS AND BLESSINGS
CELTIC TRADITIONS
CELTIC WEDDING MUSIC
CELTIC WEDDING SYMBOLS
CELTIC MUSIC ARTISTS
   
 

The Stag and Hen Parties

 
The Stag & Hen Parties
You had to be built of stout stuff to survive these wedding traditions. By today’s standards, these are actually hazing. But in adapted forms, these wedding customs continue ~ Foot Washing, Creelin’ o’ the Bridegroom, the Hen Party, Chantie Jumping.

Foot Washing
The women of the Highlands usually went barefoot, year round. In the original wedding tradition of foot washing, the bride was gently treated to a cleansing of her feet, which probably needed it. The groom and his friends crowded around the door to watch this wedding tradition.When the groom’s turn came, his treatment wasn’t so gentle. After wetting his feet, soot and feathers were smeared wherever they would stick. As a wedding tradition, the soot was a symbol of home and hearth, while feathers came from a food source.Over time and with newer products available, this wedding tradition has changed. The soot has been replaced by boot blacking or shoe polish, chocolate syrup, or engine oil.
See an example of this wedding tradition in Braemar, Scotland in 1948. This black and white silent film clip from the BBC, shows a couple, after their foot washing. In this case, the bride and the groom were tarred and feathered, then escorted around town.
Look at the Pre-Wedding Customs Video Clip. While you’re there, also take a look at film clip #1, A Crofter’s Life in Shetland. It shows some wedding traditions of 1931.

Creelin’ of the Bridegroom
As the groom in more recent days endures jokes and pranks at his expense, so too did the Highland groom. One wedding tradition as for a large basket, or creel, to be filled with stones and tied to the bridegroom's back. He had to carry it around the entire town, unless his bride agreed to kiss him (a rather nice wedding tradition). If she did, his friends allowed him to escape from the creelin'. Otherwise, he had to continue until he had completed a circuit of the town.
Over time the Foot Washing and the Creelin’ were combined into one wedding tradition. The groom would be stripped of all his clothing, except underwear. Next one of the blackenings used in the foot washing would be smeared over his body. Then he would be feathered and tied overnight to a lamppost.One modern variation of this wedding tradition was on an oil rig in the North Sea, where the groom was stripped and oiled, then tied overnight to the rig.

The Hen Party
At one time there was a wedding tradition where friends and neighbors gave food gifts to the bride. These could be used at the wedding feast or in her new home. Often included were hens, dried fish, salted mutton, oatmeal, butter, and whiskey.
A few days before the wedding, there would be a party to pluck and prepare the hens and other food for the wedding. Of course, music and singing, general hilarity, and some jesting were all a part of this wedding tradition.
The judicious bride saved these special feathers to stuff future pillows and comforters for her home.
In modern times, the Hen Party, Takin’ Out o’ the Bride and Chantie Jumping are combined into one wedding tradition. It can span one evening or a whole weekend, with lots of funny costumes, jokes, and ribaldry.

Chantie Jumping
The chantie, or chamber pot, had salt in it, symbolizing prosperity and plenty. As a wedding tradition, at intersections or busy areas, the chantie was placed on the street and the bride would jump over the pot. People passing by dropped in money and articles associated with the wedding traditions, in exchange for kisses.Attendant Responsibilities
The Best Man had to organize the cleaning and whitewashing of the groom’s house, called Sgeadasachadh. This wedding tradition was a serious responsibility for the Best Man, quite forgotten today.The Maid of Honor organized and oversaw the sewing of pillows and bolsters, and the making of household items for the bridal couple’s home. As a wedding tradition, she often gave a china tea set as her gift to the bride.

 

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Couple’s Responsibilities


Both had certain wedding traditions to fulfill. The Groom was expected to furnish the tables and chairs for their home. The Bride was responsible for providing the bed and bedding.
The Tryste
As a wedding tradition, the tryste, or betrothal, included the following Scottish customs ~ Fede ring, Lukenbooth Brooch, and Claddagh Ring.

Fede Ring
Since the Book of Genesis, rings have been given as pledges. A wedding tradition of the Romans was to give a betrothal ring. In the Middle Ages, the Scots began the wedding tradition of giving a silver fede ring. This ring was consigned to the kirk, or church, when arranging for their proclamation of marriage.

Lukenbooth Brooch
Silversmiths and goldsmiths sold their wares from open market stalls along the Royal Mile, adjacent to Edinburgh Castle. In the early 1700’s, these stalls were replaced with booths that could be locked at night ~ thus lukenbooth.The jewelers created a brooch that’s become a wedding tradition. They used intertwining hearts, topped with a crown that was symbolic of Mary Queen of Scots. The hearts often formed a stylized “M”, as the original Luckenbooth’s were styled after Mary’s royal monogram.Another wedding tradition was to engrave the inside with a pledge of love. These were treasured by the bride ~ worn at her wedding, then carefully stored away. When their first child was christened, the brooch was pinned on the christening gown. Then it was put away again, only to be brought out for the eldest child’s betrothal.Here’s an interesting twist ~ in 18th century North America, Iroquois Indians traded for Luckenbooth brooches. They copied the design from Scottish settlers and Highland soldiers they met during the French and Indian War.

Claddagh Ring
There is a tradition that a young fisherman, named Richard Joyce, was captured by Algerian Corsican pirates ~ a week before his wedding.He was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who apprenticed young Joyce and taught him goldsmithing. In 1689, he was released as part of a general amnesty agreed upon by William III of England and the Moors. Returning home, Joyce found his bride awaited his return.

As a token of her faithfulness, he fashioned a special ring, of three symbols ~ the hands signifying friendship, holding the hearts signifying love, topped with a crown signifying loyalty.

Since they lived in the village of Claddagh, we now have the wedding tradition of the Claddagh ring. Since they lived in the village of Claddagh, we now have the wedding tradition of the Claddagh ring. But don’t go looking for the village, it no longer exists.
Penny Weddings

At one time a wedding was a community event where all would bring a bit of food or drink. Anyone with a special talent would perform ~ singing, telling stories, playing an instrument ~ to contribute to the festivities.

Dating back to 400 B.C., during the Roman Festival of Saturnalias, Mummers would often perform, while laborers marched in masks. It was a day of satire and gift exchange. The tradition carried forward into the wedding celebration.
Penny Weddings had an open house approach, where anyone was welcome, as long as they contributed to the festivities.

The contributions weren’t always cash. Though, often, the wedding couple got enough money to set up housekeeping.

 

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Bridal Attire

Many Scottish wedding traditions have arisen about the bridal attire ~ the Last Stitch, the Veil, Shoes, Paisley, Lucky Sixpence, and Wedding Dress Colors.
The Last Stitch
Though it was considered bad luck for a bride to sew her own dress, one stitch was left incomplete. On her wedding day, the bride would sew the last stitch, bringing good luck.

The Veil
As a wedding tradition, veils were originally used to hide the bride’s face. She didn’t want the faeries to steal her for her finery. Later the veil came to symbolize purity and chastity.

Shoes
New shoes were bad luck ~ they also hurt your feet after a few hours of dancing.
Less well known was for the bride's father to give the groom a shoe belonging to the bride. This symbolized the passing of responsibility for the daughter from the father to her new husband.

Paisley
In the mid-18th century, Paisley dresses or shawls came into vogue and remained a fashion of wedding traditions for seventy years.

Lucky Sixpence
Something old, something new
something borrowed, something blue,
and a lucky sixpence in her shoe.
Brides carried a lucky sixpence in their shoe so they would always be well off financially in their marriage.
This wedding tradition rhyme originated in Victorian times although some of the customs referred to are much older.

Something old represented the couple’s friends, who would hopefully remain close during the marriage. Traditionally something old was a garter, given to the bride by a happily married woman. It was hoped that her happiness in marriage would be passed on to the new bride.

Something new symbolized the newlyweds' happy and prosperous future.

Something borrowed was often loaned by the bride's family and was a highly valued family heirloom. The bride had to return the item to ensure good luck.

Something blue goes all the way back to an ancient Israeli custom, where the bride wore a blue ribbon in her hair to represent fidelity.And a lucky sixpence in her shoe. Wealth in the married couple’s life was sure to happen, if the bride wore a siller, or silver, sixpence in her shoe. Here, in the US, some brides substitute a penny in their shoe, as the sixpence is less common.Wedding Dress Colors
In some eras, brides simply wore their best dress to their wedding. The color was whatever they liked.
It’s a myth that white was a sign of virginity. Instead, white was always associated with 'joy' and thought to ward off evil spirits.In 1499, when Anne of Brittany married Louis XII of France, she wore the first known white wedding dress. Silver had been the traditional color of Royal brides.
In the 16th century, the wealthy began wearing white wedding gowns. Queen Victoria chose to be married in white, as it was her favorite color.
Today, most brides marry in white, which is believed to symbolize maidenhood. As so few people really look good in white, ivory has become the second choice of color.
The following traditional rhyme offers advice on the color for a wedding dress ~

Married in White, you have chosen right,
Married in Blue, your love will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Brown, you will live in town,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink,
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.
There’s an old wedding tradition that a woman married in a 'green gown' was promiscuous, as her dress was stained green, due to rolling in grassy fields.But any Celtic bride will tell you a green dress is a badge of pride and has no connection with her purity or lack thereof.

Kilts for the groom and attendants
Celtic Gowns
Bagpipes
Piping arrival or departure is the most common and goes back to the tradition of clan chiefs having personal pipers leading them with ceremonious fanfare. Sometimes they play outside as guests arrive or afterwards as the receiving line forms. If communion is served at a wedding, a piper or other Celtic musician can play during that time also or pipers can play a wedding march processional and/or a recessional.
Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids were dressed similar to the bride. Their purpose was to be decoys, confusing the evil spirits and faeries, thus protecting the bride.

 

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Ceilidh (Reception)

Blessing the Wedding Food
During the Communion, the meenister would bless food brought by the guests for the celebration.

Bride to the Groom’s Left
As a warrior’s prize, a captured bride needed to be held with his left hand, so his right was free to fight off her family or foes.
Celtic music at the reception is another great idea. A ceileigh band that can play for dancing is great fun or there are groups that specialize in mellower sorts of Celtic music. Pipers again are frequently engaged to play when the couple arrives at the reception site, during drinks before the meal or as the couple leaves the reception. Hiring a piper to play as you leave the reception can be difficult to arrange if you do not want to lock yourself into an exact time, but it is one of the most traditional times.
In the Wedding traditions of Scotland, the reception is called a Ceilidh , where more wedding traditions are commonly seen.

Bell Ringing
Guests were supplied with small bells. When they were rung, the wedding couple was expected to exchange a kiss. Any type of small jingle bells would be adequate.

Scottish Wedding Cake
The traditional Scottish wedding cake consisted of two tiers of brandy-flavored fruitcake. The cake was baked at the time of the couple's engagement.
Only one tier was eaten at the wedding celebration, while the top layer was saved to celebrate the birth of the couple's first child.

Cutting the Cake
Scottish couples often cut their first slice of the wedding cake with the groom’s dirk.

Victorian Cake Pulls
This wedding tradition dates back to the Victorian Era. Sterling silver charms were tied to satin ribbons and hidden under the bottom layer of the wedding cake.The cake was then constructed, with the ribbons hanging down around the perimeter of the cake. The charms were hidden under the bottom layer.
Traditionally, the bridesmaids pulled the charms out before the bride and groom cut the cake.
The traditional charms were given these meanings
Magic Lamp ~ Dreams Come True

Dollar Tree ~ Financial Security

Heart ~ Your Love is True

Rocking Chair ~ Long Life

Wedding Bells ~ Joyous Declaration

Anchor ~ Stable Life

Cross ~ Life of Peace and Tranquility

4 Leaf Clover ~ Life of Good Luck

Horseshoe ~ Good Luck & Prosperity

Heart Lock ~ Faithful Love

Key ~ Key to the Heart

Wishbone ~ Wishes Come True

Chimney Sweep or Ladder and Brush ~ Luck

Thistle ~ Scottish heritage

Celtic Knot ~ Scottish heritage, love’s enduring promise
The Saltire ~ Scottish heritage

Claddagh ~ Friendship, Love, & Loyalty

Celtic Cross ~ Pledge to Defend the Home

 

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Special Dances


The bride was featured in the first dances, even as she is today.
The First Dance ~ The bridal couple would lead off the first dance with a traditional reel.
The bride's second dance was reserved for the person of the highest rank among the guests.

The Shaim Spring ~ the bride was given

Image courtesy flckr.com/owlhere
the privilege of choosing the music for the Shaim Spring, a reel which she danced with the bridegroom, bridesmaid, and best man.

The Sword Dance was usually a performance for the last dance.

Guests would then gather in a circle and sing Auld Lang Syne.

 

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Wedding Favours


A typical favour was five sugared almonds tied together in a pouch. The sugar symbolized the sweet aspects of life, while the almond symbolized the bitter. The five almonds represented health, wealth, fertility, happiness and longevity.
A Siller Spuin
The groom would give the bride a silver spoon to insure they never go without food.
 
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TRADITIONS

Irish Wedding Coin

During the marriage ceremony, usually after the blessing of the rings, 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 or will have in the future. The coin is kept as a family keepsake and is passed down from mother to her eldest son on his wedding day. A newly minted coin can be used to start the tradition.

The Last Stitch

From Co. Cork, come s the tradition of marking the last stitch onthe bride's gown onthe day of her wedding for good luck.

Lavender Tradition

Lavender, and ancient symbol of love ,loyalty, devotion and even luck. Placed in the bride's flowers to help insure a happy and long-lasting union.

The Marriage Bell

Celtic tradition has it that every young couple should receive at least one bell as a wedding gift. The bell is placed strategically in the newlyweds' home, visible to all. When the inevitable argument or disagreement takes place one of the couple may ring the bell to end the discord and declare a truce without an admission of guilt or fault.
Celtic Pebble Toss
Couples in ancient times were often married near some sort of water source such as a lake, river or holy well, believed to be favored by the Celtic gods. Wedding guest were given small stones to cast into the water while making a wish for the couple's future happiness.

The Irish Grushie
The tradition of tossing a handful of coins to the wedding guest is thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the groom and his bride. Likewise, individually wrapped candies can be tossed to the children to ensure "plenty" through the years.

Irish Horseshoe

To be sown into wedding gown or the be tucked into the bridal bouquet. The horseshoe has always been associated with good luck because of the level of importance the Celts placed on their livestock, particularly their horses.
The Schenachy
A bard or storyteller would often entertain, especially for the children attending, telling stories and anecdotes.  
Sealie-Hoo
Originally a child’s call, thought to bring luck. At the reception, individuals or tables of guests would call it out for luck and fun. Possibly the call was combined with the Bell Ringing to encourage the bridal couple to kiss.
The Shoon
At one time the bride’s father gave one of her shoon, or shoes, to the groom, indicating a transfer of responsibility and care of the bride. When the groom accepted the shoe, this was his oath to treat her well.This evolved into guests throwing an old shoes at the wedding couple, which in turn evolved into throwing rice, and now confetti is thrown.
Tying shoes to the rear bumper also came from this custom.
Horses in general were first a luxury, then an important holding. To see a gray horse was good luck. To ride to the wedding in a carriage drawn by a gray horse was even better.

The Horseshoe
Once they had horses, the brides began carrying a horseshoe in their bouquet for luck. They carried the horseshoe open side up to catch the luck and eventually began decorating the horseshoe.
In some areas the bride would have a silver horseshoe sewn into the hem of her wedding dress.
Horseshoes from the hind hoof of a gray were the best of all lucky horseshoes.
In other areas, another good luck traditional was for a toddler to hand a horseshoe to the bride as she walked out of the church with her new hain, or husband.

A Walk With The Sun
One popular custom was for the bride to walk with the sun for good luck. On the south side of the church, she would walk from east to west. Then she would continue to walk around the church three times.
 

 

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Toasts and Blessings

The Toast to the Wedding Couple
Though adopted by the Scots, the Best Man's toast started in France, where the Best Man placed a piece of bread in the bottom of his glass, wished the couple well, then drank down to the toast.

Usquebagh
The Water of Life, Scotch whiskey, would be used for the wedding toast, served in a quaich. The guests would also drink usquebagh.
Wishing Well
Often, in pagan ceremonies, couples would be married by water. The guests would toss pebbles into the water and make wishes for the couple.
Today, a decorative wishing well is available at the reception. Wedding guests can write their wedding wishes on small cards, then drop them into the well.


Traditional Ceremonies, Blessings...
The Bridal Concomitant
In the 1800’s, the bride would sew a bridal flag or ensign for her wedding day. It would be embellished with wedding symbols, like the Claddagh, Celtic knots, the Luckenbooth. On the wedding morning, the flag was flown from the rooftop of her parent’s home.The Procession
The wedding party walked to and from the church, led by a fiddler or piper. Today friends and family sprinkle confetti and flower petals on the couple as they walk together to the church. The Australian movie, Under the Lighthouse Dancing, shows such a procession.
The Bridal Bouquet
Scottish brides carried a sprig of white heather, for good luck.
The Groom’s Boutonnière
The groom often selected a flower for his buttonhole from the bride's bouquet. This harkens back to Medieval times when a Knight would wear his Lady's colours to display his love.
Blessings, Toasts and Sayings
Irish and Celtic blessings and toast were a large part of the celtic culture many year ago and are still a celebrated part of the Celtic culture today. Irish and Scottish both used language as a gift to inspire and to lift one another up. There are so many blessings and toast we could not list them all, but here are a few of our favourites from both Ireland and Scotland.

Celtic Blessings

May you both be blessed
With the strength if heaven,
The light of the sun and the
Radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed fo lightning,
The depth of the sea,
The swiftness if wind,
The stability fo earth,
And the firmness of rock.

Celtic Toast

Wishing you always walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
And the love and laughter of those you hold dear.

Old Irish Blessing
May the blessing of light,
Be with you always,
Light without and light within,
And may the sun shine
Upon you and warm your heart
Until it glows
Like a great fire
So that others may feel
The warmth of your love
For one another.

Most Famous Irish 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 rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Irish Marriage 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.

Go mbeannai Dia duit
(May God Bless You)

Irish Marriage Toast
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
Quick to make friends,
But rich or poor,quick or slow,
May you know nothing but
Happiness from this day forward.

Irish Blessing
May you have:
A world of wished at your command
God and his angels close at hand
Friends and family their love impart,
And Irish blessing in your heart.

Irish Phrases of Endearment
Gra Dilseacht Cairdeas
(Love, Loyalty, Friendship)


Mo Anam Cara
(My Soul Friend)

Gra Go Deo
(Love Forever)

Mo Gra Thu
(I love you)

Scottish Phrases of Endearment
Is Gradhaich Leam Thu
(I love you)

Is Rhu M'Annsachd
(Thou art my beloved)

Mo Ghadh Bithbhuan
(My love forever)

 

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TRADITIONS OF THE CELTIC WEDDING CEREMONY

The Caim
To begin a Celtic wedding ceremony, the bride and groom would draw a circle around themselves, symbolized their unity with God. As they drew the circle, they repeated these words,The Mighty Three, my protection be, encircle me.
You are around my life, my love, my home.
Encircle me. O sacred three, the Mighty Thee.
Pinning of the Tartan
Following the proclamation that they were now guid-man and guid-wife, or hain and wifie, the pinning of the tartan would take place. Each family would customize this, depending on whether the bride or the groom was being accepted into the other’s clan.For instance, if the bride were marrying into the groom’s clan, any member of the groom’s family would present the bride with clan tartan. This might have been a rosette or a sash fashioned from their tartan. It would be fastened with the clan badge to the bride’s dress symbolically accepting her into the groom’s clan. Many times the groom himself would pin on the rosette or sash. It can be quite emotional when the groom’s mother does the pinning.Likewise, if the groom is being accepted into the bride’s family, the roles are reversed.

Pledging to Provide and Protect
The Groom gave his bride a sheaf of wheat, symbolizing his pledge to provide for their home. The Bride gave the groom a piece of woven cloth, symbolizing her pledge to provide for their home.The Groom gave a dagger, symbolizing his pledge to defend their home. The Bride gave a Bible, symbolizing her pledge to defend their home.

Presentation of the Sword
In this tradition, the groom presents his bride with a new family sword. In time it will be given to their first born son. Or the bride’s family would present the groom with their family sword, as a sign of accepting him into the family.Either way, the sword signified his accepting the obligation and responsibility to now protect her, as his wifie.

Quaich or Loving Cup
The Quaich was a two-handled loving cup for the wedding feast. From it the couple took their first communion together as a married couple. They also used the quaich at the reception for their first toast together.
Symbolic of the sharing between the couple, it's an ancient vessel used by two families or clans, to celebrate a bond, with each leader partaking of the offered drink.
Centuries ago quaichs were made from wooden staves. By the 17th century, silver mountings or or metal quaichs were often used.
Today, the quaich is often of pewter or silver, with an overlay of wood. Before and after the ceremony the quaich sits on a plinth, or decorative stand.
The bottom was sometimes made of glass, so that the drinker could keep a watch on his companions or enemies.
For the more romantic, a double glass bottom held a lock of hair from his true love, sandwiched between. Thus, the owner could drink from his quaich to his ladylove.
Usually whiskey or brandy was served in the quaich.
Sir Walter Scott had a quaich that was especially precious to him. In 1745, a Bonnie Prince Charlie carried a quaich as he traveled from Edinburgh to Derby with the Scottish Army. In 1589, King James VI of Scotland gave Anne of Norway a quaich as a wedding gift.
The cup was presented using both hands, and received with both hands. This insured the safety of each warrior, as both of his enemy’s hands were busy.How often have you sung Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve? As you sang, you "pledged a cup (quaich) of kindness for old Lang Syne", which is old time’s sake.
Unity Candle Ceremony
This was symbolic of two clans joining. There were three candles ~ two tapers placed on each side of a central candle, symbolizing the two families. The larger central candle, placed in between, symbolized the new family being formed by the marriage.
The wedding unity candles were often decorated with ribbons, flowers, Celtic knots, Claddagh, thistles, or Lukenbooths.
A member of each family would light an outside taper before the ceremony. After their vows, the bride and groom would use those two candles to light their central candle. As they blew out the two family candles, the implied meaning was that they intended to subject their individual needs to the greater good of their union. The candles were kept, then lit on anniversaries, or other family celebrations.

Banns of marriage (beuckin nicht) were required in areas under British rule, including Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The banns consisted of an announcement in church for three Sundays prior to the wedding. This prevented people from marrying in haste and also gave any who might object time to learn of the match. Giving a fortnights notice to the registrar is still a legal requirement in Britain. Three months is required in Ireland. Waiting periods are common in most jurisdictions of the English speaking world, with the famous exception of the State of Nevada.Something Old...
"Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue, Silver sixpence in her shoe" (or "a penny in her shoe") is fairly well known. For people of Celtic heritage who live in new lands this is an opportunity to include something sentimental that relates to their heritage. An heirloom from the old country, if available can be used as something old or something borrowed. An Irish coin, or for Scots and Welsh an old British sixpence or penny can be worn in the shoe.
Something new items also can be chosen for their cultural significance also. Keep in mind the theme of continuum that a heritage wedding implies. With an eye to the future, the brooch or pendant that is something new for the present wedding can be loaned at a future wedding and might be the something old at the wedding of your daughter or granddaughter
Luck
It is bad luck for the bride and groom to meet on their wedding day before they meet at the church. It is good luck to take a different route leaving the church than arriving at the church. This signifies that life is different now for the bride and groom.
The Caim

The Cain is an early Celtic custom, to begin a Celtic wedding ceremony the bride and groom would draw a circle around themselves as a sign of their unity with God. As the circle is drawn the words, "Th Mghty Tree , My protection be, Encircle me, You are around, My life, My love, My home, Encircle me. O sacred Three, The Mighty Thee."

Hand-fasting

Handfasting can be part of the religious or civil wedding ceremony. The hands of the bride and groom are joined as in the familiar scene as the person officiating the ceremony asks "Who gives this woman to be wed?" and then takes her hand from her father or whoever is giving away the bride and clasps it to the hand of the groom. 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. With God’s grace in time another trinity would be manifest; mother, father and child. The Celts have always been good at seeing things in threes. This symbolic binding together in marriage evolved into a the practice of wrapping the clasped hands with a cord or an embroidered cloth, usually made especially for that purpose. hands gently bound together with a cord or strip of cloth or tartan. The expression "tying the knot" may have come from their hand-fasting ceremony.

Lighting of a Unity Candle

The unity candle ceremony is the lighting of candles to symbolize the joining of two families or clans. The outside taper candles represent the families of the bride and groom, and the larger center pillar candle representes the new fanily formed by the marriage.

Quaich or Loving Cup

THis two handled cup was traditionally used during wedding feast to symbolize sharing between the newly wedded couple. Presented using both hands, the recipient must receive it with both hands. Continuing the tradition, the quaich is still serving its purpose today, uniting friends and the two families inthe Celtic wedding ceremony, or at the reception following.

Wearing the Tartan

The bride and her ladies-in-waiting and women wedding guests can get int the Celtic spirit by wearing a tartan sash, skirt or shawl. There are several ways to wear a sash. For the bride, a rosette of tartan and sash is lovely pinned to the shoulder with a Celtic brooch centered int he rosette. Tartan wore by men is not reserved for the kilt only. Men can wear a formal bow tie and cummerbund with their evening-wear.

Wearing of the Kilt

One of the most unique ways to bring the spirit of the Celts into your wedding is to have the men and boys in your wedding party dress in authentic kilts. To see your men dressed in full regalia of formal kilt attire is truly spectacular. The full formal kilt attire consists of a tartan kilt, Prince Charlie Jacket and vest, fur or leather sporran, kilt socks and flashes, and any dress shoe will do. A tuxedo shirt and black bow tie are worn but a lessformal button-down Oxford shirt with a tweed day jsacket or an Argyll jacket with tartan tie is appropriate. Additional items are kilt belts and sgian dubh, a small knife with or without a sheath worn slipped into the top of the kilt sock.

 

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Bridal Bouquet


Tuck a sprig of shamrock into an Irish bouquet or a branch of white heather for the Scottish. Each thought to bring good luck.

 

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Celtic Symbols


The Celtic race is known for their symbolism and the beauty of their Celtic knots. They abound in every day life, in their art, and on their clothing accessories. Naturally, many symbols have become wedding traditions ~ Celtic Knots, Clan Plants and Badges, the Saltire, Scottish Thistle.

Celtic Knots
The interlaced lines symbolized no beginning, no end and everlasting love with a binding, or intertwining together, of two souls.
The Trinity Knot is the simplest of Celtic knots, symbolizing a triune Godhead. For the Celts, all important things came in threes, which Christianity adopted as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

As a wedding tradition, all aspects of the knots were given meaning. The crossing of the strands of the knot represented the way in which the lives of the bride and groom were to be intertwined.

The repetitious knots with each knot

connecting to the next was like an unbroken chain of generations. The interlaces also represented intertwined hearts which, of course, represent love.
Claddagh Heart
In the early 16th century an Irish man by the name of Richard Joyce was fishing off the coast of Galway a week before he was to be married when his currach (boat) capsized. Richard was captured by pirates, taken to West Africa and sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith. Years passed and Richard escaped captivity and returned home to Ireland to find that the girl he loved had never married. Richard shaped a unique ring for the girl he left behind. The ring was fashioned of three symbols; the hands signifying Friendship, holding a heart signifying love, topped with a crown for loyalty. Richard and his love married and settled in the village of Claddagh. The village no longer exists but since those early days the Claddagh ring has been worn as a sign of Love, Loyalty and Friendship.

The Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross can be found throughout the countrysides of Ireland, Scotland, England and all the Celtic Islands today. Some of the cross date back to the period of the Druids when St. Patrick came to Ireland to bring Christianity to them. The Druids used large stone to mark territories and land masses. Each cross found in Ireland today will tell you a story or a part of history that is timeless to see. The Celtic cross is a Latin straight cross with a circle around the center of the cross. It was said that St. Patrick was told of a great stone that the Druid worshiped that was of circular shape. St. Patrick draw a Latin cross throught the stone shape circle to bless it, trying to relate to their symbols of their belief to draw them to Christianity. This was the first recorded Celtic Cross. The circle today represents no beginning and no end (eternal life) and to other the circle represents the sun. The Celtic Cross has become a large representation of Irish culture and history. It is wear be many as a symbol of their culture and their faith.

Celtic Knot
The interlacing lines of the Celtic Knot stands for "no beginning, no ending, the continuity of everlasting love and binding together or intertwinning of two sould or spirits." Christianity has embrassed much of the ancient Celtic symbolism and had adapted many Celtic Knots into high crosses and illuminated manuscripts.

Trinity Knot
The simplest of Celtic Knots symbolizing a triune God. The Celts were very familiar with the idea of the trinity, everything came in threes; the three stages of womanhood:maid, mother, crone, and the three elements: earth, fire, water and Christianity embraced this knot to symbolize the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in many of the early Christian illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. The combination of the trinity knot into rings, linens, jewelry, and other bridal designs is associated with eternity and eternal love.

Scottish Thistle
The national emblem of Scotland, one thistle is said to have saved an entire Scottish army. A thousand years ago, during the Vikings invasion of Scotland, an advancing enemy warrior stepped on a thistle and cried out in pain inadvertently waking the sleeping Scotsmen. Scottish King Kenneth III was so grateful that he adopted the thistle as his nation's emblem.

Luckenbooth
The Luckenbooth brooch was so called because it was sold from the "locked booths" on the Royal Mile adjacent to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland,in the early 1700s. Traditionally, it was exchanged between lovers on betrothal. The interwining hearts of the brooch and the sometimes inscribed phases such as "of earthly joys thou art my chioce" are evidence of its purpose, and a surmounting crown is symbolic of Mary Queen of Scots. The lockenbooth is probably the most romantic and lovely type of brooch in Scotland's history. The Locken booth was then given to the first born on their birth.

Celtic Harp
Based on the ancient lyre, the Irish harp is one of the world's oldest instruments. The ancient Irish kings employed harpist to entertain them. At one sad point in Irish history conquering invaders made it illegal to posses an Irish harp and set out to burn every harp in Ireland in an attempt to kill the "Irish spirit". Greatly honored, the harp is the national emblem of Ireland.

Welsh Love Spoon
The centuries old Welsh custom of giving love spoons meant a would-be suitor gave a spoon to a girl he wished to court. Begun in the 15th century, the suitor often carved the spoon himself or commissioned a spoon. Spoons became very ornate with symbols of love and promise.

Wedding Veils
Long ago a bride would be veiled to hide her away from evil spirits and from fairies who would steal her for her fine dress. A veil was also thought to represent purity and chastity.

The Scottish Scramble
The bride tossed a decorated wedding ball "waddin' ba" filled with wrapped candies and coins to the children gathered outside her home or at the reception for good luck.

Irish Five Pence
The Irish Five Pence was given to the bridal on her wedding day to wear in her shoe as a symbol of good luck and many blessings. Today many brides will do the same by placing a five pence in the brides flowers.

 

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WEDDING FEAST

 
 
One of the most celebrated and significant traditions for Celtic theme weddings is the feast. Unlike typical American weddings, which involve two separate services for the actual ceremony and the reception, Celtic weddings combine the two. When planning a Celtic theme wedding, this would be an appropriate custom to incorporate into the wedding.
 
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DECORATIONS

 
 
Another appropriate thing to incorporate in your Celtic theme wedding would be Celtic knot work designs. These designs can be displayed throughout the decorations in the wedding including the Celtic wedding dresses and Celtic wedding invitations
   
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CELTIC CEREMONY

   
The Wedding Procession
The following day the bridal party made their way to the church, flower petals being thrown in front of the bride, but if they encountered a funeral or a pig on the way, it was considered bad luck and they would return home and set out again. The first person they encountered was called the first foot and would be given a coin and a drink of whisky by the bride. He would then have to accompany the bridal party for one mile before being allowed to continue on his way.
 
The Church
Just outside the church they would be met by the clergyman and make their wedding vows. Then a mass was held in the church, during which the clergyman blessed food brought by the guests. It was traditional for the clergyman, however shy, to kiss the bride.
Pinning of the Tartan
Following the proclamation of husband and wife this additional ceremony takes place, "The pinning of the tartan". This ceremony is customized to each family depending on whether the bride or the groom is being accepted into the clan. For instance if the bride is marrying into the clan, any member of the grooms family may present the bride with clan tartan in the form of a rosette pin or sash which is fastened with the clan badge. Often this presentation is pinned or dressed to the bride as acceptance into the grooms clan. Many times the groom himself will pin or dress the bride, but it is quite emotional when the grooms mother does the pinning.
 
Presentation of the Sword
As listed above in the pinning ceremony, many celebrations may take place that also includes the "Presentation of the sword". This is a beautiful tradition where the groom presents his bride with a family sword that will be given to their first born son or; the Brides family would present the Groom with their sword as an act of acceptance into the family and signifying the obligation and responsibility to now protect her.
The Ceilidh
(pronounced "kay-lee") is Gaelic for party or gathering
 
Traditional Scottish Wedding Cake
The traditional Scottish wedding cake consists of two tiers of brandy-flavored fruitcake. The cake is baked at the time of the couple's engagement. Only one tier is eaten at the wedding celebration, while the other is saved to celebrate the birth of the couple's first born
 
The First, Second and Last Dance
The new couple leads off the dancing with a traditional reel, and the bride's second dance is reserved for the person of the highest rank among the guests. The Sword Dance is usually performed at a traditional wedding in Scotland, which is similar to an Irish jig or a Highland fling. Guests gather in a circle before leaving the reception site and sing "Auld Lang Syne".
 
The Shaim Spring
It was the privilege of the bride to choose the music for the 'Shaim Spring', which she danced with the bridegroom maids and best man.
Processional
  • Highland Cathedral
  • Mairi's Wedding
  • The Skye Boat Song
  • The Cradle Song
  • Canon in D
  • Ode to Joy
  • Flowers of Scotland
Brides Entrance
  • For All Those Endearing Young Charms
  • Bridal Chorus
  • Joy Cairns
  • Come to the Hills
  • Highland Cathedral
Recessional
  • Scotland the Brave
  • Highland Laddie
  • Mairi's Wedding
  • Cullen Bay
  • The Rowan Tree
Special Events
--- Remembrance of family
  • Amazing Grace
  • Danny Boy
Special Events
--- Unity Candle
  • She Moves through the Fair
  • Amazing Grace
Celtic Wedding Vow 
~Morgan Llywelyn~ 
"You cannon possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give
You cannon command me, for I am a free person
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand"

"I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night and
the eyes into which I smile in the morning
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine
I shall not slander you, nor you me
I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in
private and tell no strangers our grievances"

"This is my wedding vow to you
This is the marriage of equals." 
 
 
 

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Celtic Music Artists

Will Millar

The Rogues

Enya

Ceilidh Minogue

Jura Ceilidh Band

International Ceilidh Collective

Coila Ceilidh Band

Rachel Hair

Rachel Hair is one of one of Scotland's finest players of the Clarsach, the traditional Harp. Born and brought up in the Scottish Highland village of Ullapool, Rachel was first introduced to the harp at the age of 10, while attending Feis Rois, one of the many Gaelic Arts Tuition Festivals, in Scotland.

Jennifer Port

Jennifer's performances include playing at the weddings of Madonna and Guy Ritchie, and Travis guitarist Andy Dunlop to Jo Monaghan. She regularly plays for leading Parliamentary figures and have played for the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Prince Edward on separate occasions.