Our Jecular Wedding: Infusing an Irish Flair

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Elk’s parents are fresh-off-the-boat Irish immigrants who moved here in their 20s. (Note—gratuitous personal photos of our trip to Ireland)

No I am not pregnant, and no, Mr. Elk does not have an amputated right arm—TERRIBLE photo.

When we first got engaged, I knew I wanted to incorporate some Irish traditions into the wedding so that both of our cultures would be expressed, and I immediately asked his parents if there were any Irish wedding traditions we could use. His mom’s response: “The only Irish tradition I know is getting drunk.” His dad didn’t really have anything to add, either. Not too helpful…

Flash forward almost a year, and I have scoured the internet for actual traditions. I came up with two that I completely love and definitely want to incorporate:

1. Hand Fasting. Our hands will be tied together (hopefully with gorgeous ribbon as in this picture), and our officiant will speak of our hands being those that will take care of and love each other the rest of our lives. LOVE THIS IDEA!

Image via Style Me Pretty / Photo by Larissa Cleveland

2. Pebble Toss. Apparently, in ancient times, Celtic couples were married near bodies of water. Their guests were given small stones to toss into the water and make a wish for the newlywed couple. This fits PERFECTLY with our outdoor wedding on an inlet of the bay! I plan on putting out a pretty bowl filled with pebbles, along with an explanation of the tradition.

I feel these two additions to our wedding (plus the obvious supply of booze—including plenty of beer) definitely add that Irish flair that I was looking for!

Unfortunately, 10 months after I first asked for input and got nothing from my soon-to-be in-laws, Mr. Elk’s dad has decided he does in fact have a request for the wedding. The other day Mr. Elk let me know that his father would like us to play Irish music. OK, I can deal with some Irish music during cocktail hour, or during dinner. But no. He wants it during the reception…for people to dance to.

We are only having eight Irish people at this wedding, max. I want the reception to be a party! I want people dancing and having fun, and I can’t help but feel like this is totally going to ruin that mood and break up the vibe. ARGH…I guess it’s not as bad as the electric slide, requested by Mr. Elk’s mom at his brother’s wedding (which will be on our DO NOT PLAY REGARDLESS OF WHO SAYS IT’S OK list).

Any suggestions on how to make this work?


Mrs. Elk

City: Syracuse/Long Island
Wedding Date:
May 2012
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Erica, Guest @ 7:10 am

    I don’t know about your friends, but my friends would TOTALLY get into some Irish music. Seriously, get one or two really excited people up there to dance, and everyone will join in. I bet you it’s the hit of the night!

  2. Member
    Crabbabs 1030 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:11 am

    At my BFF’s wedding, they played Russian music a few times in between the regular party music. Most people took it in stride and there were a few people that took the lead and taught everyone how to dance. My friend was a little worried, but everyone loved it.
    FI’s family insists on playing polka music, so we have that issue too. I think it will be fine for us, and hopefully for you too.

  3. Member
    marlew 775 posts, Busy bee @ 7:11 am

    are you doing a hora? do it right off the bat after that and get it over with….. we went out of our way to play some Italian music, decided to do it right after dinner to get things going, but that didn’t work out so well. It doesn’t help that my family-in-law (cousins, aunts, uncles) are a bunch of boring snotrags, and I wish we had done it in the beginning. You could also make it your ending song(s) at the end of the night, when people are plastered anyway, but I think that the FIL might appreciate it more earlier in the evening. So hard to please everyone.

  4. Member
    msbadger7 168 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:13 am

    I don’t think a few songs during the reception – be they Irish or the Electric Slide – will ruin the vibe of the reception unless your reception is really short. Most weddings I’ve been to have a longer reception so each song seems over and done with really quickly in the grand scheme of things. Plus, sometimes it’s super surprising which ends up being the “hit” song of the night. If playing these songs would make Mr. Elk’s family happy, I think it’s a pretty small concession to make! Love the other Irish traditions you want to incorporate, too. :)

  5. Member
    Irish_in_Oxford 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:28 am

    Could you go for some modern Irish music, rather than diddley-idle-didle stuff? U2? Van Morrison? Snow Patrol? There’s a great song that was released recently that I hear played at friends’ weddings all the time called “Galway Girl” (version by Steve Earle, and a version by Sharon Shannon). EVERYBODY gets up to dance to it, and although it’s fun and modern it has traditional instruments so it sounds quite traditional. You should have a look for it on youtube.

  6. Member
    thirdtimebride 483 posts, Helper bee @ 7:28 am

    I suppose it depends on what he means by Irish music. Are we talking jigs and fiddles? Danny Boy? Or would more contemporary songs work? Look to the Corrs for some very pretty Celtic-inspired pop music or Flogging Molly (and the like) for more up-tempo selections.

  7. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 7:52 am

    I love those traditions! And I really like Irish music and would be so excited to dance to it, especially since there’s such a strong connection to it.

  8. Member
    MsTerrapin 655 posts, Busy bee @ 7:56 am

    “The only Irish tradition I know is getting drunk” might be the best thing ever uttered by a mother in law ever. That’s awesome.

    As for the Irish music at the reception, I think it could be a lot of fun! Especially if you’re looking at jog/fiddle type music. You can recreate the “party below deck” scene from Titanic– those people look like they were having a good time! I also second the Flogging Molly suggestion– my friends played “what’s left of the flag” at their wedding and people went NUTS

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    anonymous, Guest @ 8:03 am

    Irish music is super fun! You asked for some input and you got it. Chances are your future FIL isn’t asking for much, and this will totally make him happy. Its not like your whole reception is Irish music. Take one for the team, here!

  10. Member
    bRooklynRocks 4048 posts, Honey bee @ 8:25 am

    Well, why don’t you listen to the music first and then decide if it’s something you might or might not want? It could actually be a rousing ‘crowd pleasing’ kind of music. I’ve been to weddings of people from other cultures and when they played the music, the crowd got into it because it was dance-able music. Just give the music to your DJ and he can slide it in an appropriate time :)

  11. Member
    bunny 2206 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:41 am

    Ditto what Erica said! Irish music is SO FUN to dance to. I’m not Irish at all, and it’s one of the few things that can get me onto a dance floor. It just begs to be danced to! Line dances like the electric slide might be hokey, but I have seen it prod people to the dance floor that you would have never expected (MY MOTHER, for example. She NEVER dances!).

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    denkyem, Guest @ 9:08 am

    It sounds like you don’t think your friends and family will be in to dancing to the irish music, but you’d be surprised! This is basically an entire genre of music developed FOR dancing to, and even for those who didn’t grow up wiht it it can be pretty irresistable. A friend of mine in our north american big city recently randomly started a traditional irish band, and when our group of rock and hiphop-loving friends in their 20s goes to see them play, they invariably get the whole room up dancing. Last st. paddy’s day they practically had a mosh pit going!

    Irish tunes will be fun for both younger and older people, and will give your reception some musical variety to appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages, which is pretty essential. (I know when i end up at an all-hiphop wedding, for example, i leave early!)

    Maybe get your father in law to suggest one ballad for slow-dancing and then 2-3 other faster tunes (jigs and reels), combining songs and instrumentals. Do some traditional ones, but you could also slip in a more modern take on a traditional song (i’m thinking something flogging molly) in the mix. scatter them around in your playlist throughout the night and i bet it will be awesome!

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    denkyem, Guest @ 9:13 am

    good call on the titanic thing, ms. terrapin! btw the super fun key piece in that scene (i think used in the actual dance-off) is called “john ryan’s polka”.

  14. Member
    lovekiss 7059 posts, Busy Beekeeper @ 9:22 am

    You could include some more contemporary Irish music like Flogging Molly.

  15. Member
    bdemps11 116 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:31 am

    Dropkick Murphy’s are another good example for Irish music. They’re similar to Flogging Molly and I’ve found that anyone with an Irish background or has seen either Boondock Saints movie loves it!

  16. cinnamonbun Member
    cinnamonbun 1116 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:37 am

    In my experience, Irish music makes for a rocking dance floor! There’s something about it that just makes you dance. :)

    Or, as other commenters have suggested, try some modern Irish music too. While the band is Canadian, Spirit of the West’s ‘Home for a Rest’ will not fail to get everyone up, and the song includes some traditional reels as well.

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Kayley, Guest @ 9:56 am

    Irish music in so incredibly fun to dance to! Do it! I love the group called the Kilkennys. Your friends (and soon to be FIL) will love you for it.

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    Heather, Guest @ 10:15 am

    Hi! There are a bunch of ways you can accomadate this request and still keep everyone happy (aka you). Perhaps the song that Mr. Elk & his mom dance to could be an Irish tune. Or you could have a special request to dance with your future FIL and have THAT be an Irish based song. I was just in my friends wedding this past May, and they left the alter with a little Irish Inspired music (The intro to Shipping up to Boston, by the Dropkick Murphy’s)….We are from MA so it worked. I know your from New York, and may cringe at the thought :) but they replayed the full song later in the evening, after drinks had been flowing and it was such a HIT!!!! Maybe you could talk to your DJ and see if he could use (or even reccomend) some songs that are crowd pleasers, and then use them as segway songs, or cut the cake songs etc. The Saw Doctors is a great Irish band, look at their songs too. Good Luck!

  19. Member
    caybaybay 81 posts, Worker bee @ 10:40 am

    Irish music is so fun! and there are many covers of traditional songs done by modern bands that are especially fantastic for dancing

  20. Member
    TheMrs2013 1522 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:31 am

    I vote for Dropkick Murphy’s (I am a New England girl though so that was automatically what came to mind)!

  21. unicycle Member
    unicycle 476 posts, Helper bee @ 12:24 pm

    I agree, it shouldn’t be too hard to make people dance to Irish music! And I love the idea of a handfasting. I want to do that too!

  22. Member
    keltikate 23 posts, Newbee @ 1:05 pm

    I am so glad you wrote this post and the overwhelming majority is FOR the music! I am an Irish girl myself and had suggested a brief interlude of Irish music when my MOH rolled her eyes and tried to talk me out of it. I planned to do it anyway, but knowing that the hive is in support of the idea makes me feel even better. Try listening to the song Mary Mack. It is a great song that gets the crowd involved. “Mary Mack’s mother’s makin’ Mary Mack marry me! My mother’s makin me marry Mary Mack!” Oh…good times!!! Try and get it by Hair o’the Dog if you can. Their version rocks!

  23. msfox Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:41 pm

    I know this might not be what your looking for, but what about some Dropkick Murphy’s or Flogging Molly? They have some GREAT danceable songs (PM if you’re interested!). I also think you should totally do the hand fasting.. I’m pretty sure we’ll be making use of that Celtic tradition as well!

  24. elk Member
    elk 320 posts, Helper bee @ 3:00 pm

    Thank you all for the helpful comments and reminder about that Titanic scene! You are right, I will look into more modern/danceable Irish music and make it work!

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    Bride2Bee, Guest @ 5:09 pm

    My parents requested Irish music and personally I’m excited! Try going for Irish rebel music – specifically The Wolfe Tones. It’s all very pro-Irish and sure to get all 8 of your Irish guests to wave their beer with pride. Also, the band that was in Titanic is called Gaelic Storm. They are pretty good but the fastest stuff of theirs I know is what they did in Titanic. And don’t forget Irish drinking songs! “Drunken Sailor” is a classic. As for traditions, I love the handfasting but don’t forget to incorporate an Irish blessing. There are so many out there.

  26. Member
    Tuna 31 posts, Newbee @ 6:53 pm

    My husband is English and grew up in Ireland and at our wedding, our last song of the evening was a crazy irish jig. EVERYONE… and i do mean everyone… got up on the floor and danced like hell. it was awesome. it wasn’t planned… my crazy father just randomly requested it at the end of the night. but it was a huge hit. our guests were laughing so hard by the end. it was a great way to end the night. so no, we didn’t do irish music the whole reception, but ending on that note was really special for us!

  27. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:36 pm

    My family is not quite fresh off the boat. And the only Irish things we do at drink and eat potatoes. No lie. Nothing too traditional at our wedding like clogging, haha.

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    Evie, Guest @ 5:50 am

    If you’re honestly interested in combining your mutual cultures, then I’m having a hard time seeing how a request to play some Irish music is making you cringe. If you’re planning on doing the hora, it’s really only fair to play some Irish music too. And there’s lots of great Irish bands, especially some contemporary stuff like Dropkick Murphy’s or Flogging Molly.

  29. trailmix Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 7:33 am

    I second the suggestion of the Dropkick Murphys and/or Flogging Molly, they both have some fun, danceable songs with an Irish vibe!

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