An Irish Wedding

In May I was lucky enough to come back to Ireland for a wedding. Most weddings are held in churches or beautiful locations, much the same as in the US. The receptions typically take place at a hotel, where everyone invited stays at least one night. The ceremony began at 2.30pm and was much the same as here, except there were no children at all (weddings are adult only). The couple chose to have a non-religious ceremony and talked more about loving one another and being a unit. The dinner wasn’t until 6 pm. After the ceremony people typically drive to the hotel and have drinks in the residence bar. This wedding was at an old mental asylum, that dealt mostly with tuberculosis, had been cleaned and modernized after a decade of abandonment. It was a beautiful stone building with an attached chapel where the ceremony was held. Since everything was so close we went straight to the bar and had drinks with friends and talked about the wedding. This was my first time meeting most of Kevin’s friends as they’ve moved from County Roscommon to Dublin or Galway. 

When dinner began so did the surprises. I am used to weddings being buffet or at least one plate being served. At this wedding, which Kevin said is typical, we had to pick white or red wine, a starter, a main course, and dessert. The cake isn’t the only dessert! The starter was served with a salad. Twenty minutes after the starter came a bowl of soup and rolls. After which a sorbet was served. There was a 30-35 minute break before the meal was served with a great amount of root vegetable dishes in addition to the potatoes and vegetables that fit the type of meat (beef roast, turkey, or salmon). Throughout the meal the waitstaff kept our wine glasses filled. After the meal, two dessert options were available. I have seen where desserts were served at weddings in place of cakes because the couple chose them in place of the traditional cake, but these were in addition to the wedding cake! After dinner was over and everyone had their coffee the band started. 

We danced for the next few hours as the band played songs that the older people loved to dance to reels and jigs, and such. The older Irish generation also dances similarly to square dances with twists and turns that they call jiving. Kevin’s parents love to dance this way, especially to country music. The band played a few songs I recognized, but I definitely didn’t know how to dance to them the way everyone was dancing. Kevin and some of his friends pulled me to the dance floor, I am not a dancer, and spun me around and back and forth. I admit it was fun and I don’t mind it so much anymore.

While the band played the waitstaff had cleared and cleaned all the tables. As they took a break the party began to disperse when a surprise came out. Four dancers stepped onto the dance floor. They were dressed in traditional Irish dance clothes. They danced and jumped around and back and forth; my first time seeing this kind of dancing live. They performed three songs as everyone clapped and cheered them on. After they finished, everyone went out to cool down or sat to rest their feet. Within a few minutes, more food was brought for us to eat: chicken goujons, chips, spring rolls, onion petals, and thin slices of the wedding cake. At around midnight the DJ took over. 

I don’t know if it is a Midwest thing, but I am used to weddings finishing around 11pm. I found that Irish wedding celebrations can last three days between rehearsal dinner and drinks, the wedding day, and then a day in the pub after for all those who couldn’t make the wedding. Wedding day celebrations last with the DJ finishing around 3am. This DJ did as well, and he even had a surprise for us. A saxophone player came out and played on and off for about an hour to current songs, sometimes playing where sax music was originally and sometimes adding her own adlib moments. She was pretty amazing, jumping around and dancing as she played. The 3 hours of DJ music was interesting to watch. He only played a few songs I’d heard or vaguely remember Oasis songs, Mr. Brightside, songs in that genre of music. 

After the DJ finished and it was time for the main party to end we had a decision to make, either go to bed or go to the residents’ bar for more drinks and singing. We went for a few rounds but didn’t stay up until 6am as did many of our friends. 

The next day everyone met at the newlyweds’ home. We ate leftover food and extra cake. More drinks were had and toasts made in honor of the couple. Then they walked a few blocks down to the pub to celebrate the couple even more. Kevin had to work the next day so when they left, around 10pm, we went home to bed. Irish weddings are a great celebration of life, friendship, and love.

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