Celtic Wedding Traditions
If the word "Celtic" means more to you than a basketball team, then chances are you're thinking of having a celtic wedding theme
Whether you're of Irish, Scottish or Welsh descent (or even if your ancestors hailed from somewhere else entirely), using this charming theme can make your wedding day magical. It conjures images of comely lasses in long, flowing dresses and hot -- er, make that "bonnie" -- lads in kilts or tunics. Come along with us on a journey to the ideal Celtic-theme wedding; we know you'll find some great ideas, and you might even discover it's surprisingly budget-friendly!
What is Celtic, Anyway?
We're sure you already know it's pronounced with a hard "C" and not an "S", but what else do you know about the history of this beautiful culture? Originally, the term referred to a group of northern Europeans who migrated to the British Isles over two thousand years ago. Today, "Celtic" means all things English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish -- including a variety of time periods.
To some couples, the phrase denotes a pre-Christian ceremony. Put all this together and what do you have? A huge variety of customs and resources to choose from in order to create your beautiful, on-budget Celtic wedding.
Having Celtic ancestry may be what's leading you to choose this theme. However, it's not reserved exclusively for those who can make an ancestral claim to the UK. The traditions and ceremonies are touching and heartfelt, and can apply to just about any couple. Let's look at a few time-honored traditions that can make your day special:
The Traditional Hand-fasting
If you've heard the term "hand-fasting," kiss the next pagan you see -- the neopagan movement (as well as today's interest in all things historic) have brought this beautiful tradition into the present. According to historians, hand-fasting started out as a temporary arrangement for couples to be married "a year and a day -- time enough for a priest or other religious figure to arrive at villiages that might not have a religious center of their own. Today, though, it usually has a much more permanent meaning!
All you need is a piece of cloth in colors and/or a pattern that' s meaningful to the two of you. (Tartan is a Scottish tradition; if this is your ancestry, go online to look up your family's "colors.") But you can also go a bit on the fancy side with this; for instance, many couples use ornate ribbons, embroidery, long tassels and other embellishments. The photo to the left shows an example of hand-fasting.
The officiant will tie your and your groom's wrists together loosely to indicate that each of you is bound (happily!) by the promise of true love. Then you kiss, of course! For more information on Celtic traditions, feel free to visit the lovely site that provided us with this photograph: Heart to Hart
Choose Celtic-style rings for you and your love. Claddagh
-- a symbol of deep friendship and loyalty -- is an image of hands holding a heart; it originated in Ireland but is enjoyed by couples the world over. If you're choosing a Claddagh for your engagement ring, wear it on your right hand, with the crown pointing toward your fingernail, to signify you are "taken" (you would wear it away from your fingertip if "available"). During the ceremony, you'll move the ring to your left hand, crown pointed toward the fingertip to signify you're "off the market." Very symbolic and meaningful.
One of the more popular Celtic designs is featured in jewelry (and, yes, tattoos as well) is the intertwined knot design
. The knot can be made of hearts, links (as in a chain) or even animal designs. A band made up of repeated Celitc knots represents the circle of never ending love. What could be more symbolic? As for metals, silver and pewter are traditional.
While picking out your own wedding jewelry, remember to purchase a special piece of Celtic-style jewelry for each of your handmaids; jewelry is a traditional bridesmaid gift and will be most welcome by your ladies in waiting!
Here, you have an enormous resource to choose from. You can go back to the mystic history of the culture by wearing Roman-style clothing (Celtic clothing often follows this style due to the overlapping cultures). Many of these styles can be purchased, made inexpensively or found in Vintage shops. "Celtic" clothing stores run the gamut from reasonable and very beautiful, to ridiculously overpriced. Find a style you like and use your favorite search engine to find a reasonably-priced duplicate.
Other possibilities are the leine, a tunic worn by Irish men and women during ancient times; the kilt, a men's garment dating from the 17th century; or early medieval (approximately the late 5th to late 11th century) outfits.
You can opt for plaid -- but you don't have to. Plaid is often the first pattern that comes to mind when one says the word "Celtic," and the design dates to northern Europe before even the first millennium. However, Celts both ancient and modern always enjoyed bright, celebratory colors, such as saffron yellow, true red, sky and deep blue, pure white and of course, green. Dramatic black and gold or black and silver are other possibilities.
Celtic music as you walk down the aisle -- and for your first dance -- is a sure way to make your wedding memorable. Try artists such as Celtic Thunder, Loreena McKennitt, Chloe, Alasdair Frasier (try "Josephin's Waltz"), Celtic Woman or even (yes) Enya. You can also hire a Celtic-style soloist, string quartet or band for your walk down the aisle.
Pick up the tempo with the Pogues, Flogging Molly or the Chieftans during your reception. (Hint: check out music styles on YouTube or another service before purchasing a CD so you know you're getting what you want.)
Your Wedding Stationery
The first view of your wedding (and its charming theme) your guests will have will be your Save the Date cards and your invitation. When you're ready to design your stationery, you can view some of our Celtic designs
for some creative options. Incorporate your theme in all your pieces so it has the Celtic flavor you're looking for. You'll have the added bonus of cutting your wedding expenses down as well.
By taking the time to research your family history, as well as Celtic traditions, and incorporating them into your wedding, you'll impart your own unique stamp on your wedding and reception. Even if only Celtic for the day, this charming theme makes for a magical and memorable event. Slainte!