Celtic wedding themes and traditions are simple and meaningful and can be seen through out modern weddings still today. The Celtics belief in marriage was that two souls would join together so their strengths would be twice as great and hardships only half as hard. Marriage was an institution not to be entered into lightly. It was the union of two souls, two hearts and two minds.
The ceremony itself was a simple ritual called handfasting. The bride and groom would stand facing each other holding hands and they were bound by a ceremonial rope, cord or wrap. This is where the term ‘tying the knot’ comes from. Handfasting symbolized the unity of the couple.
The Celtic love knot popularly known as the eternity knot represents the union of two souls by interweaving two individual strands. They are commonly used in Celtic wedding rings which portray two unbroken loops that intertwine and are inseparable from each other. They also symbolize the never-ending cycle of life with their intricate and interwoven patterns that have no end or beginning.
Many customs are specific to local areas of Ireland and Scotland. Some Celtic wedding accessories have survived the times and are still used today, such as the Claddagh ring. This ring was named after one of Ireland’s oldest fishing villages and it has been in use in Ireland for several hundred years. The two hands clutching a heart are for friendship, the crown for loyalty or fidelity and the heart symbolizes love. The custom is that if you are single you wear the ring on the right hand facing out to symbolize your heart is open for love. You wear it facing in if you are spoken for. To show you are engaged, you wear the ring outward on the left hand. During the wedding ceremony, the ring is then turned inward to signify the final devotion of the heart in marriage. Even if you don’t use a Claddagh ring for Celtic wedding bands, the Irish Claddagh symbol can be incorporated into your wedding on invitations, accessories and even wedding favors.