The Horseshoe Wedding Tradition

The horseshoe wedding tradition is one as old as time. When I was a bridesmaid earlier last year, I found myself trying to coordinate when a guest with children needed to pass over the traditional horseshoe. I managed to sneak a quick conversation with the celebrant, and could text the friend with the appropriate cue, but it led me to wonder – do you still give horseshoes at weddings?

Do brides even know about the horseshoe wedding tradition? And of course, the million-dollar question: when do you give the bride the horseshoe?

The Horseshoe Wedding Tradition

The giving of horseshoes is as a token of luck to a bride. It is a tradition of long-standing. Well before Christian times a horseshoe was thought to represent a crescent moon and was, therefore, a very potent fertility charm!

However, more recently, in Victorian times the tradition was established as a way of bringing good luck to the newlyweds for the duration of their lives together.

Celtic and Irish Wedding Traditions

The horseshoe is a symbol of good luck in many cultures but it is a well-loved tradition in Celtic and Irish weddings.

What Kind of Horseshoe to Use?

Traditionally a real horseshoe would be given to the bride, but these days you can create something a little more modern that still ties in the tradition but it doesn’t have to be an actual metal horseshoe as sometimes they can be hard to source.

It makes it extra special if the horseshoe is homemade for the bride.

A DIY Wedding Horseshoe

The giving and receiving of a horseshoe is something that is a little magical and romantic. It is possible to purchase horseshoes but it is very special if the horseshoe is ‘homemade’ especially for the bride. If you are very lucky you may be able to get a real horseshoe that you can clean and decorate.

You may be able to buy a plain plastic horseshoe and then decorate it yourself. The horseshoe needs a ribbon loop that attaches to the ends of the horseshoe so that the bride can hold it easily along with her flowers. It is really important that the horseshoe is able to stay upright in the ‘U’ shape so that it is able to catch all the good luck on the day.

When do you give the bride the horseshoe?

Usually, young children are the ones chosen to give the horseshoe to the bride.

This happens at the end of the ceremony after the couple has been presented as Mr and Mrs and then take their first walk together down the ‘aisle.’

As they stop, the children, with adult help if necessary, can come forward to present the horseshoe to the bride. This is often a great photo opportunity as well.

The horseshoe(s) should be on display with the bride’s flowers at the reception after the ceremony. Guests do appreciate the opportunity to look at and admire the flowers and horseshoes.

Where can you buy a wedding horseshoe?

Many traditional bridal stores and stationery shops carry wedding horseshoes, but it’s a dying tradition and with that, fewer people are stocking them. 

For a wide range of options, you can check online if you have time to wait for shipping. I’ve popped some of my favourites below – click on the link to be taken directly to the shop that sells them.

wedding horseshoe

These wooden horseshoes are personalized with the couple’s last name and wedding date for an extra special memento.

real horseshoe for wedding tradition nz

A reconditioned real horseshoe is beautiful

rustic horseshoe

A rustic horseshoe with twine.

Other wedding traditions

Learn about what is behind the traditional wedding breakfast or the tradition of having a sand ceremony.

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10 Comments

  1. My Mother gave me a horseshoe when I married almost 56 years ago & I gave all of the brides in our family one My first granddaughter is getting married in February & I will continue the tradition

    1. Hi Maureen, I just read your post, I to have made a horseshoe for my granddaughter. What I am wanting to know when and how did you present the horseshoe to your granddaughter. Tradition says it is to be given to the bride after the ceremony as she leaves to take her first walk back down the aisle with the groom. I am a little confused as to what I should do.
      Thank you Jan

      1. I recieved mine after the birdseed was thrown outside the church. I had 4 of them presented to me by the children of family and close family friends. I am using one from my wedding 28 years ago for my daughters wedding August of 2022.

    1. Hey Melodie – The horseshoes pictured above are what I’d consider a modern take on the wedding horseshoe. The traditional horseshoe is covered in white satin, lace and frills – a more modern take is an actual horseshoe beautifully decorated. The more traditional style is more readily available and much more common at weddings still.

      1. Actually the new tradition is a resurgence of the original Real horseshoe the lacy ruffled one is the Victorian version I make the ruffled ones BTW

  2. I never knew this was a tradition! I am getting married next June under a little arbor. I’ve been trying to figure out how to decorate the arbor and rolled over in bed one night and saw the horseshoe hanging on my wall, the same one that hung in my grandparents house forever. That will be hanging from the top of the arbor in June.

    1. It’s cool aye Meg! It was a nice surprise for me to receive my horseshoes 🙂 I think that is a lovely way to incorporate a personal detail into your wedding day. And when you see it back in your home it has that extra significance from being at your wedding too <3

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