When you start searching for a “normal” wedding ceremony or a “traditional” ceremony most of it’s elements have their roots in Christianity and Catholicism.
The Gaelic traditions tend to lean to the civil and worldly side of the marriage ceremony spectrum.
Here’s 10 you might like to practise at your wedding
1. Tie the knot.
The handfasting ceremony, the origin of the saying ‘tie the knot’, has it’s roots in Gaelic and Celtic tradition where the couples hands would be bound with a ribbon, rope or other material in the place of a minister binding them together.
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your nuptials with a handfasting. You can involve parents individually, or together, or your celebrant can perform the ceremony alone.
2. A ‘Penny Wedding’
A Scottish Penny Wedding is one where every guest would “bring a plate” or similar to celebrate the wedding after the ceremony. It’s a much more communal celebration and would no doubt reflect your community, your friends and family much more than a reception you planned yourself.
There is the added blessing of not having to pay a cent for the reception.
There is also the risk that everyone will just bring a box of Roses.
3. Gaelic wedding vows
I, by no means, speak Gaelic very well, but CaoimhínSF on the Irish Language Learner’s forum knows a bit and they posted the below vows on the message board.
Bóid pòsaidh anns a’ Ghàidhlig
Wedding Vows in Gaelic
Tha mise [groom’s name] a-nis ‘gad ghabhail-sa [bride’s name] gu bhith ‘nam chéile phòsda.
I, [groom’s name] now take you [bride’s name] to be my wife.
Pronounced: “Ha MEESH-uh [groom’s name] a-NEESH ‘gat GAV-ull-suh [bride’s name] goo vee num KHAY-luh PHAWS-tuh.”
Ann am fianais Dhé ‘s na tha seo de fhianaisean tha mise a’ gealltainn a bhith ‘nam fhear pòsda dìleas gràdhach agus tairis dhuitsa, cho fad’s a bhios an dìthis againn beò.
In the presence of God and before these witnesses I promise to be a loving, faithful and loyal husband to you, for as long as we both shall live.
Pronounced: “Own um FEE-un-nish yay’s na ha shaw jay EE-yan-i-shan ha MEESH-uh a GYALL-ting a vee num err PAWS-tuh JEE-lus GRAG-ukh ag-us TAR-ish GOOT-sa, kho fat’s a veese un JEE-ish ACK-een byaw.”
Tha mise [bride’s name] a-nis ‘gad ghabhail-sa [groom’s name] gu bhith ‘nam chéile pòsda.
I, [bride’s name] now take you [groom’s name] to be my husband.
Pronounced: “Ha MEESH-uh [bride’s name] a-NEESH ‘gat GAV-ull-suh [groom’s name] goo vee num KHAY-luh PAWS-tuh.”
Ann am fianais Dhé ‘s na tha seo de fhianaisean tha mise a’ gealltainn a bhith ‘nam bhean phòsda dhìleas ghràdhach agus thairis dhuitsa, cho fad’s a bhios an dìthis againn beò.
In the presence of God and before these witnesses I promise to be a loving, faithful and loyal wife to you, for as long as we both shall live
Pronounced: “Own um FEE-un-nish yay’s na ha shaw jay EE-yan-i-shan ha MEESH-uh a GYALL-ting a vee num ven FAWS-tuh YEE-lus GRAG-ukh ag-us HAR-ish GOOT-sa, kho fat’s a veese un JEE-ish ACK-een byaw.”
There’s no instrument on earth that can rumble your belly like a bagpipe.
The most visual and audible way to “go Gaelic” is to be piped down the aisle and for the bridal recession. Both examples are in video below.
4. A wedding pledge
The Gaelics and Celtics loved a good wedding pledge.
You cannot possess me, for I belong to myself,
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot 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 from my meat,
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living and dying, equally in your care,
And tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you.
This is a marriage of equals.
5. Toasting at the reception
As toasts are made, respond in a Gaelic fashion, yelling Sláinte! Pronounced slansh-a, Irish Gaelic for “To your health!”
6. Wearing Tartan
Whether it’s a full-blown kilt, or just in a jacket or a hat, wearing Tartan on your wedding day is a very visual throw-back to the fashion of the culture.
If the grooms is wearing tartan, it is Gaelic tradition to pin tartan to the bride on completion of the ceremony.
7. Wearing colours
Seeing a bride out of white at a wedding ceremony is almost a social no-no today but the tradition is less than 200 years old and was brought in by Queens Victoria.
Gaelic brides would more often than not be seen in different colour dresses. Try these on for inspiration.
8. Barefoot wedding
Gaelic and celtic traditional weddings often took place with the bridal party, and almost everyone else, barefoot. A sign of the times and also a sign of the raw relationship being consecrated at the ceremony.
9. Make your own luck
When departing the ceremony the groom will throw a handfull of loose change to the children, this is called the “Scramble”, while the oat cakes are broken and sprinkled upon the bride and groom as the dash away to the reception.It is believed by many that this simple act insures wealth and happiness in the household of the couple for years to come.
But you could always just make your own luck.
10. Hold the wedding at the “right time”
Samhain, the beginning of the Gaelic new year, November 1, was the season of wedding (and interestingly enough death) revels.
So a true Gaelic wedding is held on November 1
[box type=”info”]Note: The author really knows nothing about Gaelic weddings, and only researched various websites, encyclopedias and books to come up with all this. Please post corrections in the comments.[/box]