Rituals are a staple part of any wedding ceremony, and can be a fun and meaningful way to give a nod to cultural traditions on your day. We’ve covered lots of rituals already, from the popular Hand-Fasting Ceremony and Wine Box Ceremony to a Yam Seng Wedding Toast and Sand Pouring Ritual, and here we are looking at the Bell Ringing Ritual, which finds it roots in an old Irish custom. It’s an incredibly heartwarming way of infusing musicality into your ceremony, and one that will have everyone smiling. It’s also a great sustainable alternative to confetti for all you eco-conscious couples. Read on to discover the origins of this tradition and how you can include a bell ringing ritual in your wedding ceremony.
Where does the Bell Ringing Ritual Originate?
Dating back to Ireland during the Penal Times (1695 to 1829), this traditional custom originates to when church weddings were banned in Ireland. Instead, people would get married in barns and cottages and their guests brought along bells to ring at the end of the ceremony to wish the newlywed couple good luck and bring prosperity to their marriage, as a substitute for the ringing of church bells.
The ringing of a bell on a couple’s wedding day is also said to ward off any potential evil spirits, but bells have long been gifted to newlyweds to act as ‘make-up bells’ to be rung during an argument to disrupt the discord!
How to do a Bell Ringing Ritual?
This is a ceremony ritual that does require a bit of planning, and lots of enthusiastic audience participation, but the final effect is magical as you close out your ceremony with a chorus of bells. Needless to say any kids in attendance particularly enjoy this ritual. First, you need to choose what bells you want to use and we have some suggestions below:
- Children’s handbells that play different notes make the best sound, but it can be expensive to source enough if you have a lot of guests.
- A less expensive option is to buy small bells and tie them with ribbons, but these tend to give more of a pleasant tinkle than a resounding bell sound. There are lots of inexpensive options available on Etsy, and these can be left at the ceremony entrance in a basket, or on a board with instructions for guests to take one, to be kept as a favour after the ceremony.
- If you’re crafty you can create tamborine-style favours like bridal designer Anna Campbell did above for her wedding. Use old lace to cover a round wooden frame and then tie the small bells on to the edges. Very boho!
- You can also buy bells tied on to long wands with streamers attached, which make them even easier to ring, and look great in photos.
- As a sustainable option we recommend sourcing vintage bells from charity shops rather than buying new. Or you could ask guests to bring one along to the ceremony with them on the day if they have one already. We do recommend having extras as there will be people who forget theirs, or don’t have one.
When to Ring Your Bell
There are a couple of options for when to encourage your guests to start ringing their bells. The first option is when your celebrant or solemniser pronouces you married, when a cheer will usually go up amongst the crowd anyway. Alternatively you can ask your guests to ring their bells at the end of the ceremony, as you walk down the aisle. They can also be used as an alternative to confetti, as you’re exiting. The choice is yours!
Want to learn more about wedding traditions you can include in your wedding ceremony? Take a look at our Ultimate List of Wedding Ceremony Rituals.