Your wedding ceremony, one of life’s milestone events, should include a powerful blessing to send you and your beloved out into your new life together with love, gratitude, and hope for the future. The Irish, with their rich history of storytelling and poetry, have traditional Irish blessings that are so heartfelt, you might consider using one in your ceremony.
You don’t have to be Irish to appreciate the sentiment either. But if you are Irish, you can embrace your heritage by including a well-loved blessing or prayer. Just select your ceremony blessing with care and keep the more lighthearted verses for after the wedding, advises wedding planner Nora Sheils. “While many Irish blessings may not be appropriate for a ceremony, they do add some humor to a reception!”
Meet the Expert
Nora Sheils, the founder of Bridal Bliss, is a veteran wedding expert and planner based in the Pacific Northwest. She is also co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to join wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing contracts, invoices, and streamlining the planning process for event teams.
Read on for more about Irish blessings and prayers with some advice from a top wedding planner.
What is the difference between a prayer and a blessing?
In the simplest terms, a prayer is a direct conversation with God or a higher power. You can ask for something for yourself and others or offer praise and gratitude. A blessing is a form of prayer usually requested on behalf of another.
When is a prayer read in the ceremony?
"A prayer would typically take place early on in the ceremony, as part of the welcome address or even the homily or sermon," Sheils says. "The prayer is ready by family, godparents, or very close friends."
When is a blessing offered, and by whom?
“A blessing is given towards the end of the ceremony after most of the formalities are completed (vows, rings, communion if Catholic, etc.), as a way to send the newly married couple off into the world with positivity. Usually, whoever is officiating the wedding would give the blessing,” explains Shiels.
Can Irish Catholics ask someone other than the clergy to read a prayer or blessing in church during their wedding Mass?
Shiels shares, “A Catholic nuptial mass has very specific requirements. The gospel is always read by a priest or deacon. However, the other two readings (including prayers and blessings) may be read by anyone the couple chooses—typically a godparent, family member, or close friend.” Whenever uncertain, It's best to ask your priest.
Why are most of the Irish wedding blessings unattributed?
Many of the most-beloved Irish blessings and prayers have been passed down for generations, and along the way, the name of the author has been lost.
Irish Blessings and Prayers
Here’s a collection of Irish blessings and prayers for your consideration.
"May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace. May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase. May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past. May your hands be forever clasped in friendship and your hearts joined forever in love. Your lives are very special, and God has touched you in many ways. May his blessings rest upon you and fill all your coming days."
"May joy and peace surround you both, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now, and God bless you evermore. May you live your life with trust, and nurture lifelong affection, May your lifelong dreams come true for you, move ever that direction."
"In good times and bad times, in sickness and health, may they know that riches aren’t needed for wealth. Help them face problems they’ll meet on their way—God bless this couple who marry today. May they find peace of mind comes to all who are kind, may the rough times ahead become triumphs in time, may their children be happy each day—God bless this family who started today. As they go, may they know every love that was shown, and as life it gets shorter may their feelings grow. Wherever they travel, wherever they stay, God bless this couple who marry today."
"May love and laughter light your days and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!"
"May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow
May the soft winds freshen your spirit
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again my friend(s)
May God hold you in the hollow (palm) of his hand."
"Lucky stars above you,
Sunshine on your way,
Many friends to love you,
Joy in work and play—
Laughter to outweigh each care,
In your heart a song—
And gladness waiting everywhere
All your whole life long!"
"May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you, faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you."
Traditional Irish Wedding Ceremony Blessing:
May the meaning of this hour be fulfilled through the days and years to come.
May the love of this man and this woman, their unity of spirit,
grow deeper and stronger in the uncertainties and changes of life they will share.
Loving each other, may they love all persons. Trusting each other, may they learn to trust life.
May their love reach out to the love of all, that their lives may bless all whose lives they touch. May they find comfort together in shared hours of shadow, as well as in the bright sunshine of joy. May they be to each other both strong and gentle.
May all who follow their lives with interest and affection have cause to rejoice not alone in their happiness, but in their brave and generous living which makes life beautiful and significant.
"May you have love that never ends,
lots of money, and lots of friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do,
and may God send many blessings to you!"
"May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness.
From this day forward."
"May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.
May your home be filled with laughter
May your pockets be filled with gold
And may you have all the happiness
Your Irish heart can hold.
May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
May luck be a friend to ye,
And be with ye in all yer days,
And may trouble be to ye,
A stranger, always."
Single Line Blessings
"May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward."
"May there be a generation of children on the children of your children."
"May you live all the days of your life."
"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live."
Blessings consisting of a single line are perfect to use on invitations, programs, printed napkins, aisle runners, signage, and to create a theme for your wedding.
"May the blessings of each day be the blessings you need most."
"May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows fade in the sunlight of love. "
"May good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow."
Blessings for the Reception
"May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping."
"Here's to you and yours
And to mine and ours.
And if mine and ours
Ever come across to you and yours,
I hope you and yours will do
As much for mine and ours
As mine and ours have done
For you and yours!"
"May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load, may the mist of Irish magic shorten every road, may you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune ere bestowed, and may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed."
"May you have a world of wishes at your command. God and his angels close to hand. Friends and family, their love impart, and Irish blessings in your heart."
"By the power that Christ brought from heaven, mayst thou love me.
As the sun follows its course, mayst thou follow me.
As light to the eye,
as bread to the hungry,
as joy to the heart,
may thy presence be with me,
oh, one that I love,
’til death comes to part us asunder."
Excerpts from Saint Patrick’s Prayer:
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From the temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.