Order of Procession
I've seen this done in many ways and as time goes by brides and grooms and their families are making their services more meaningful with respect to who they are.
There is often a special song or piece of music for the Mothers and generally it's directed to the taste of the Moms' themselves.
At this point the groom and his entourage of friends convene at the place where the vows will be exchanged and the wedding held. At this point the officiant is usually in place or about to come out.
The bride is last in the procession, usually from another area of the venue. Ring bearers, flower girls and brides maids generally go in that order followed by the Matron of Honor and "here comes the Bride."
A big music decision here is whether to have two pieces of music or one i.e. one for the procession of everyone (except the bride) and a separate piece of music for the bride, or; just one piece of music for everyone.
A good rule of thumb here is to judge a) how many bridesmaids and others are going to be walking down the aisle; and, strange as it sounds; b) how long is the aisle. If you have just a maid of honor and the aisle is twenty feet long, then it's an easy decision. Likewise, if you're having nine bridesmaids going down the aisle of a cathedral! What's in between can be trickier because it can get too choppy if tunes are changed too fast and it's easy to loose the "flow." However, the entrance song can get a tad long if there's a very long processional. Generally, experienced wedding musicians will be able to guide you in this area.
Celtic Wedding Processional ~ Music
Are there any special Celtic or Irish wedding processionals?
The answer is "yes" and "no." Bridal marches, as we know them, generally came down to us from classical music such as Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" first played in England in 1847 or Wagner's "Bridal Chorus." They both became popular around the same time.
There are many beautiful possible choices for this very important moment and here are some suggestions we've put together for your special day!
Historically, any march (of Irish, Scottish or Celtic) origin might be used for a Celtic/Irish wedding. My personal favorite is this old Irish march. We liked it so much we created and recorded five arrangements to suit many tastes.
One gorgeous melody - with five choices of arrangements to suit every personality and style of wedding, from simple to elaborate! Whether you like to hear Irish harp on its own, or with strings, oboe, Irish drum (bodhran), Irish whistle, the Irish pipes, or piano, our most popular "Celtic Wedding Processional" offers every possible choice. And, our sound samples make it easy to hear the difference before you make your selections.
We’ve included length of each track after each title for your convenience. We want to be sure you have enough music for each part.
1. Solo Harp (2:58) - very low key and simple.
1B. Solo Harp (2:00) - ditto
2. "Celtic Classical" (3:56) Harp, Strings & Oboe. If you like a slightly more classic sound, this is for you.
THE BIG ENTRANCE
3. "Highland Version" (3:56) Harp, Strings, & Irish Pipes. You either love them or hate them: the Irish pipes! And if you love them - this is the version for you...
4. "Highland Drum Version." The Bodhran or Irish drum is included in this version. (You may not hear the drum properly on your computer's speakers because they often obliterate the 'low end,' but you will hear it beautifully on decent speakers.)
5. "Piano-based Version." This is from "The Vow, an Irish Wedding Celebration." It also features Irish pipes, Irish whistle and bodhran (Irish drum) and is very 'traditional Irish' sounding. (Again, you may not hear the drum on computer speakers.)
Choose a few selections for your wedding party processional, and save the remaining tracks for the Prelude. This enchanting music conjures the magic of the Irish landscape, and provides the perfect musical backdrop to your special day!
As you walk gently towards your future - may the road rise to meet you!
1. King of the Faeries 3:55 (Original Version) (Ethereal, evocative, everyone's favorite). By far the most popular live processional after our "Celtic Wedding Processional" and most commonly used for Bridesmaids! It works beautifully out of doors, for bridesmaids, for children or for anyone wishing to create a 'magical' atmosphere.
2. The Grove 3:33 (Starts slowly, ethereal, atmospheric)
3. The Butterfly 5:19 (Think - "Celtic Vivaldi" - impressionistic, fey)
4. Dove's Return 3:00 (Another big favorite; popular for outdoor ceremonies, or during ceremonies, a very 'light' touch)
5. Greensleeves 3:16 (A "classic" on Irish whistle & harp, for a dreamy "float down the aisle" feel)
6. Spirits of the World 3:41 (iTunes Essential, New Age) "Float down the aisle" feel. This tune is listed under iTunes essentials with such luminaries as Enya, Jim Brickman, Acoustic Alchemy & Will Ackerman
7. Aisling (Dream) (3:17) (Very, very dreamy - Also used for interludes and even Meditation)
Click HERE to see a Full list of musical arrangements for every part of your Wedding!
Dresses and Fashion for Celtic Weddings
What to Wear
“Who, being loved, is poor?”
— Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and dramatist
Weddings have always been a time for us to express our cultural heritage, a time to connect our own marriage to the history and values of our people. We do this both to emphasize the social legitimacy of the occasion and to remind ourselves that this union is but the latest link in a long chain connecting us to all of our ancestors. One of the simplest (and most fun!) ways to express these important ideas is through our choice of wedding clothes.
For the Groom
Even today, many men in Scotland choose to wear a kilt on their wedding today. The pattern of the tartan is typically that of the man’s clan, as every clan had its own unique design. Kilts have not historically been as popular among the Irish (except in the Northeastern corner of Ireland where many families have Scottish heritage) as they are among the Scots. There are, however, a number of signature Irish tartans available. The patterns for these usually correspond to the man’s home county (e.g. County Limerick) rather than to his clan.
You might be surprised to know that what we in the West consider the “classic” wedding outfit – the bride in white, the groom in a tuxedo - is in fact a relatively modern convention, one that only developed in the Victorian period (1837-1901, the period of Queen Victoria’s rule in Britain). Before this, there was considerably more variation especially in terms of the color of the bride’s dress and the style and color of the suit a man wore. Just as red is associated with good luck in many Asian traditions, blue was often considered the most propitious color for Celtic brides.
Irish brides today, even if they usually wear white, often accent their outfit with “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” (see Something Old, Something New). Green, however, is best avoided because it is believed to entice the fairies, and fairies are notorious for stealing away precious things, including possibly the lovely bride!
Material & Patterns
In later periods (such as the 17th and 18th centuries) the color of the bride’s dress would have been less important than the choice of materials, the intricacy of the needlework, and the extent of decorative flourishes (like ribbons and bows). High-born brides would have almost certainly worn silk or other expensive fabrics. The color of the material may have been something quite plain like a pastel, but it was likely to be embellished with vibrant floral patterns, intricate embroidery, and bright brocade. Brides from a more humble background might have had less sumptuous material, but they would have made their dress special by adding many ribbons, bows, and pretty flourishes. In both cases, as in earlier Celtic times, the dresses were typically floor length.
It was traditional for Scottish brides to take a tartan scarf and wear it as a sash across their dress once the actual ceremony was completed. This demonstrated their new status as members of their husband’s clan (see also chapter two, handfasting). This is still practiced today and is a simple and effective way to express the couple’s Scottish heritage.
Excerpt From: Áine Minogue. “A Celtic Wedding: How to add the perfect Irish touches to your wedding.” iBooks.
Irish Linen or Lace
The "white gown" fashion was often accentuated with Irish lace, a form of crochet lace that was regarded as a couture profession at the turn of the 20th Century. However, the Irish were producing lace as far back as the 16th Century, often in convent communities where they tried to emulate the styles of crochet lace on the continent.
Crochet Centers were set up all over Ireland by the Ursuline Sisters in order to provide employment during the famine. The first center started in 1845 in Blackrock, County Cork.
Soon, the couture lines of London, New York and Vienna sought out "Irish Lace," for the fashions of the day. Irish Lace was used to make dresses and to decorate blouse bodices and cuffs, trimmings and ruffles. Even men wore lace on their evening shirts.
Irish lace waned in popularity as a result of changes in fashion, however, the coutour lines of the world came calling again in the 1940s when lace came back into fashion.
Today, many brides like to add Irish lace to their wedding gowns. Many carry an Irish lace hanky or use small lace place mats at the center of the reception tables.
Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue
Riddles have long been associated with courtship, love, and weddings in Ireland and elsewhere. One of those most prevalent in Ireland calls for the bride’s wedding outfit to include “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
In my own case, my sister let me “borrow” a garter. It was “old” in the sense that no one uses garters any more and it was new in that she had just purchased it. To top it all off, there was a blue ribbon on it. Yes, my sister is an ingenious woman! How creative can you get with this one?
Incidentally, the song “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” is one of the better-known lover’s riddles. The idea was to set a challenge or a task for your lover and to frame it in the form of a riddle. It was a playful way to test how far your beloved would go to make you happy.
“Tell him to find me an acre of land, between the salt water and the sea strand or he’ll never be a true lover of mine…”
“Tell her to make me a carembrick shirt, without any thread or needlework, or she’ll never be a true lover of mine…”
And on it goes, much like love itself, a never-ending riddle.
Symbolism of Flowers
“A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”
— Oscar Wilde, Irish poet and dramatist (on love…)
The Celt’s love of nature is renowned and no Celtic celebration would be complete without the inclusion of elements from the natural world. Nature was central to the Celtic way of life and bringing nature indoors, especially for ceremonies, would have been a very common practice. The most obvious choice here is of course flowers. However, you could also include tree branches or other natural objects in your special day.
Traditionally, an Irish bride wore a garland of wildflowers in her hair. Today, many brides love to express their Irish heritage by importing “Bells of Dublin,” a unique and beautiful Irish flower. Of course, the flowers listed here grow in many countries outside Ireland and if you take a little time to consider their individual significance, you can put together a most beautiful bridal bouquet that is also filled with meaning.”
Apple Blossom — Good Fortune
Baby’s Breath — Pure Heart
Bachelor’s Button — Hope
Bluebell — Constancy
Blue Violet — Fidelity
Buttercup — Riches
Camellia — Gratitude
Lime — Bliss
Magnolia — Nobility
Marigold — Sacred Affection
Orange Blossom — Fertility
Orchid — Rare Beauty
Pansy — Thinking of you
Parsley — Festivity
“Carnation — Distinction
Chrysanthemum — Friendship
Daffodil — Joy
Daisy — Loyalty
Forget-me-not — Remembrance
Forsythia — Anticipation
Gardenia — Rapture
Gladiolus — Generosity
Honeysuckle — Affection
Iris — Wisdom
Ivy — Fidelity, Faithfulness
Jasmine — Grace
Lavender — Cleansing
Lily — Innocence
Lily of the Valley — Happiness
“Peony — Happiness
Peppermint — Deep Feeling
Red Rose — Passion
Rosemary — Remembrance
Sage — Esteem
Sorrel — Affection
Spearmint — Sentiment
Stock — Lasting Beauty
Sweet Basil — Good Wishes
Sweet Pea — Lasting Pleasure
Tulip — Eternal Love
Violet — Modesty
White Daisy — Innocence
White Rose — Purity”
Honoring Relatives who have passed
There are some points in the ceremony when the bride and groom often choose to honor those loved ones, family members, and relatives who have passed. In many instances it is done silently (or perhaps only noted in the wedding ceremony program)
Occasionally, family members will proceed as part of the recessional and place roses on a table or altar as a discreet and loving way to pay tribute to those not present which making ready to honor the bride and groom on their most special day.
I have often been asked to play special music for this tribute which often occurs at other times during the ceremony.