The offbeat bride: Heidi, Retail Loss Prevention (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Kurtis, Super awesome cell phone salesman
Date and location of wedding: Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Ireland — April 8, 2011
What made our wedding offbeat: We both live in Buffalo, NY. We were having some issues with family during our planning of a regular old wedding here at home (which happened in August 2011, but on our terms). So we said to hell with it. We had dreamed of going to Ireland together for years and I finally came up with the idea: let's get hitched in Ireland!
So. We. DID.
We found a Celtic Monk named Dara Molloy who performs ceremonies on Inis Mor, the largest Aran Island off the coast of Ireland. I wore a white yoga pant/flowy shirt combo that worked out great. I was terrified to buy a dress and attempt to get it from Buffalo to Ireland. We had to take a one-hour bus ride and then a 25 minute ferry ride to Inis Mor where Dara picked us up in his SUV.
Dara took us to his home where his wife had a hand-picked a wildflower bouquet for me. His wife, Tess, was also our photographer. Dara and Tess were so hospitable. They fed us Rhubarb pie before the ceremony and gave us a bit of a history lesson on the amazing island.
Tell us about the ceremony: We loved every aspect of the ceremony. It was magical. This was the basis of our nature-based Celtic wedding:
Station One: Holy Well.
The Well is a Celtic symbol of the feminine. In ancient Ireland, it was an entrance to the womb of the goddess. The goddess was the land of Ireland, Eriu. At this well, we celebrate the woman to be married. The bride places her hands in the well water. We pray for fertility, womanhood, and for the bride as wife and mother. We used stories and poetry.
Station Two: Standing Stone.
The Standing Stone is a Celtic symbol of male fertility and power. In ancient Ireland it was used as a phallic symbol, marking a centre of energy. The monks carved Christian images on it and used it to mark the boundaries of their monastery. At the standing stone we celebrate the man to be married. The groom places his hands on the stone. We pray for virility, manhood, and for the groom as husband and father.
Station Three: Altar.
The Altar represents God or The Divine. This altar was used by the monks for 1100 years, from the 5th to the 16th century, as the focus for their worship. It is likely that they built the altar above an earlier Druidic energy point. Before the altar, the two to be married stand facing each other and make their vows. They exchange rings, have their hands tied in a Celtic handfasting, and receive a blessing from the priest.
Station Four: Sundial.
The Sundial is a carved stone with a hole in it. It has a circular dial and a Celtic cross carved on it. It was a primitive clock, using a stick in the hole to cast a shadow from the sun across the dial. The monks needed it to divide their day into periods of prayer. The wedding group gathers in a circle around the Sundial.
The couple faces each other on either side of the Sundial, and place the index finger of their right hand through the hole. By touching fingers through the hole, they confirm their marriage vows. This continues an ancient practice, where the Sundial was used as a contract stone.
A silk scarf is used to make wishes at the Sundial. The silk scarf is passed through the hole in the Sundial three times as the wish is made. The couple do this first, and then invite others to come forward and do it also. Some people will wish privately, others will wish out loud.
The priest blesses the couple with oil and water. The blessing is for their relationship. The oil is placed on their foreheads or hands. It is a symbol of health and wholeness. The priest prays that their relationship will remain healthy and will grow and develop wholesomely throughout their lives. He then sprinkles sacred water from the well around them three times. The water symbolises protection (driving away the devil). The priest prays that nothing will happen in their lives that will damage or destroy their relationship.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was deciding on wardrobe. Kurtis picked out what he was going to wear in minutes. I bought a dress, and then decided I didn't like it. I then bought two corsets and didn't like either of them. I finally decided on the yoga pants/flowy top combo, which worked out perfectly.
The idea of purchasing a wedding dress, trying to get it to Ireland, taking it on a road trip across Ireland, then trying to find someone to press it, and keeping it clean on the hour-long bus ride and half-hour ferry ride was cringe-worthy.
My favorite moment: The whole ceremony was so detailed and so meaningful to us. Being together in such a beautiful place was amazing. I loved the four station concept of the ceremony.
My funniest moment: We didn't have a reception. We traipsed around on Inis Mor after the ceremony instead. The mini-bus driver that took us back to the ferry was kinda funny though. He was such a cute little Irish-speaking old man. He pointed out where the leprechauns lived.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was terrified that, in true Irish fashion, it would rain the day of our outdoor ceremony. But instead we were blessed with a 65 degree, sunny, wonderful day! It was awesome.
My advice for offbeat brides: Obviously, we did whatever we wanted to do and it was perfect for us. Be true to yourselves, even if it means taking time to do things with just you two. At the end of the day, it's about becoming one unit. You and your partner.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Bride's top: Amazon
- Bride's fascinator: Etsy seller AyperiBellydancer
- Officiant/Celtic monk: Dara Molloy
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!