A traditional Irish wedding sounds beautiful. Literally. While a modern Irish wedding reception might be exuberant with dance music blasting or a boisterous live session, the sounds from the church during the actual ceremony are more soft and delicate. It is a joyful celebration, of course, but a traditional Irish wedding does have its own gentle grace – and you can hear the difference.
The bells atop the church are not the only Irish wedding bells you will hear ringing on a wedding day. You are also likely to hear a smaller, more tinkling ringing from a crystal, silver or ceramic bell. Such a bell is a traditional Irish gift at weddings, and many couples have guests ringing little bells as they exit the church after the ceremony. The bells can make a lovely memento for guests, and they have a charming history.
Bells were believed to keep malicious spirits away, which is always helpful, but in the context of a marriage they had an additional purpose. All couples will quarrel, and newlyweds were advised to keep a small bell handy so that if they found themselves becoming really angry at each other one could ring the bell to remind them of their wedding vows and the joyful sound of the church bells ringing on their wedding day.
The other delightfully delicate sound you are likely to hear at a traditional Irish wedding is the harp. Harp music was a feature of social gatherings in ancient times, and travelling harpists, who were held in the highest esteem, brought news from one area to another as they toured and performed for royalty around the island. Harp music is a beautiful way to set the mood as guests gather in the church and as the bridal party comes down the aisle. Many Irish gifts feature a harp motif, and if a couple is planning to have a harpist at their wedding ceremony, a wedding gift with a harp will always remind them of their special day.
A couple looking for ways to incorporate their Irish heritage in their wedding celebrations has no shortage of options, and an easy and elegant idea is to use bells and harps in their invitations and other stationary as well as the decorations and table settings for their reception. Of course, having the actual bells and a harpist at the ceremony would be an unforgettable touch rich in meaning.
There are many, many Irish wedding traditions covering everything from what the brides wears to how she travels to the church. Even the ceremony can involve the ancient Irish custom of handfasting, which is the origin of the phrase ‘tying the knot’. And of course, many couples chose Claddagh wedding rings. Whether a couple incorporates many or none of these traditions in their marriage ceremony, if they share any Irish heritage or love of Ireland, Irish gifts for their wedding are sure to be appreciated and treasured for decades to come.