For many couples, an integral part of getting married is incorporating their heritage or family traditions into the wedding/ceremony. This symbolic gesture pays respect to their tribe/family roots. Being Irish myself, I would like to share a bit of shamrock with you.

The best known symbol of Ireland is the shamrock, not to be confused with the four-leaf clover. The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover. Unfortunately, for us florists, the shamrock is not an easy flora to find. Some herbs like rosemary are used to symbolize remembrance. In ancient times, flowers and spices carried in the brides bouquet or hair were a way to ward off evil spirits from the ceremony. English lavender mixed in the bouquet symbolized love and devotion. Herbs worn in their hair, such as a wreath of wild flowers, stood for her fidelity to her new husband. Another tradition is for the bridesmaids to carry myrtle. After the ceremony, they would plant the myrtle into the ground. If the plant grew and thrived, the bridesmaid would herself marry before the end of the year.

For a particular Irish wedding I did last summer, we blended a bit of lavender, berries, buds and a little silver horse shoe attached to the grooms boutonniere. The horseshoe has long been a symbol of good luck in cross-cultures. Irish traditions has it that a horseshoe given as a wedding gift to the bride and groom and kept in their home will bring them good luck. The horseshoe must always be hung like the letter “U” so that the luck doesn’t “drip out.” I also brought in a bit of humor to the decor by cutting off the tops of a can of Guinness and “planting” flowers in them, as well as using whisky bottles as a vessel for flowers.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!