Many cultures have traditions around wedding or marriage blessings and how this is done. Read on to learn more about a tradition you might use if you are Irish…or would like to include and Irish custom at your wedding!
I need your help!
My Irish-American grandmother, Maeve, has a gorgeous Irish Marriage Blessing Plate. Now that Brian and I are engaged, she said we could borrow the plate she was given by her mother. I know there is an incredibly special tradition–Grandma Maeve used to tell us over and over when we were kids. I can remember that her name means “entrancing” and that Maeve is the name of a famous warrior/queen from the first century of Irish history but I can’t remember what to do with the plate. HELP!
–Shannon, Seriously Stressing out in Sherwood
Don’t stress! You’ve got this!
I consulted with one of our staff members who is Irish. Being loquacious, she explained it in detail.
The Irish, she said, bless anyone, any time they can as a way of showering the person with love or protecting them from harm. For this reason, there are Child Blessing Plates, Mother Blessing Plates, Marriage Blessing Plates, and so on.
Depending upon where in Ireland the family hails from and their economic status, there are three diverse ways the Irish Marriage Blessing Plates are used:
- If there is a set of 6-12 plates, they are used to serve food to the bride, the groom, and other honored guests. Other guests eat from the genuinely nice regular China.
2. In some families, the mother gives a new Irish Marriage Blessing Plate to her daughter when the daughter becomes engaged.
The daughter and her beloved share a piece of cake on that special plate at their wedding.
Later on, the couple uses the plate to serve a birthday dinner to one partner or the other and to share food on their anniversary or other special occasion.
3. In other families, the plate is used by multiple people in the family when they get married.
This sounds like your situation: Your grandmother has lent the plate to each of her daughters and granddaughters in turn for use during a special part of the reception.
If you turn the plate over, there may be a list of all those who have borrowed the plate and the dates of their weddings. What a lovely piece of family history!
What does an Irish Marriage Blessing Plate Look Like?
Just like cars that range from nice to luxurious, Irish Marriage Blessing Plates have a variety of designs from nice (a white plate with tiny green shamrocks decorating the raised edge) to luxurious (an entire Irish blessing poem etched into the crystal plate).
The image at the top is of an Irish Wedding Blessing Plate from The Irish Store.
What is a traditional Irish Wedding Blessing?
“May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortunes. May you be rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.”
(Often this is painted or etched onto an Irish Marriage Blessing Plate.)
When was the first Irish Wedding Blessing?
Long before St. Patrick landed on an Irish shore to bring Christianity to the Emerald Isle, the Irish were deeply religious in practicing both Druid and folk beliefs. It is thought that Irish blessings date back to ancient Celtic times starting in about 500 B.C. Poets and bards who traveled across Ireland offered blessings when people married or had a child. Rooted in a vocabulary connected to nature and the Irish environment, these blessings gave comfort to the people.
In these early times, life was difficult.
Lives were often cut miserably short because the tragedies of plague, pestilence, and war lurked around every corner.
For those reasons, people took every opportunity they could to bless each other as a way of counteracting the stifling sorrows which might be only a day away from descending.
My suggestion is that ask your grandmother HOW she would like you two to utilize her Irish Marriage Blessing Plate at your wedding.
She probably has been dreaming of this day since you were born…or soon after that!
Listen to her ideas with an open heart.
Later, discuss your grandmother’s ideas with your beloved. You may want to modify your grandmother’s ideas.
Ask her permission. If she approves, borrow the beautiful plate, enjoy the sea of love from your family which surrounds you, and have a blessed day!
If you have questions, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help you!
Your friend in the wedding business,
Images courtesy of The Irish Store.com, Pixabay.com, Unsplash.com, and Ainsworth House & Gardens wedding venue.
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