Bell of Truce

You’ve read about many things about weddings in this blog. Most have been non-traditional or at least outside the norm. I’ve tried to help you become aware of alternatives to what people may say are “traditional” for weddings. I do this because, unless you are the royal family of some nation or tribe, there is no “traditional” American wedding ceremony. America is all about breaking tradition by applying modern ingenuity and innovations, and perhaps observing some “traditions” of one’s religion, homeland or culture. It’s all fine. Decisions should be the bride’s choice, and when the couple is entering their marriage as equals, the bride’s and groom’s choice. After all, it is Your day, your way! So how do we deal with things that are not necessarily traditional but used often enough not to be considered original, unique or creative, but are simply “different?” We explain them and then we help you choose.

Commonly, wedding ceremony add-ons happen between the exchanging of rings and the pronouncement. The Irish (or Celtic) Bell of Truce is a different, uncommon and interesting “add-on” that can enhance a wedding ceremony, especially when the couple has a history of cutting up or habitually arguing. In the case of the Bell of Truce, bride and groom participate, making it real fun and not just funny. Ringing the Bell of Truce as a part of the wedding ceremony can bring laughter and joy at that part of the ceremony where a bit of light humor can really work well.

A bell is blessed, and then presented to the bride and groom by the officiant. At this point, there are variations to what may happen next. The couple can then be asked to give the bell a good hardy ring, while thinking lovely thoughts of each other and, most importantly, of their future together as husband and wife. The bell is then kept at home as a reminder of the couple’s wedding day. When arguments arise, the bell is called into use. One of the quarreling couple should ring the bell and call for a truce. The tinkling sound will remind the couple of their wedding vows and conjure up the happiest memories from their wedding day. A clang is often better than a tinkle.

When I married one of my best friends, a U.S. Marine Colonel of Irish heritage, I gave them a brass ship’s bell for their Bell of Truce and told the bride she would need to ring it with all the fury she could muster if she was to get his attention. I rang it loudly in the wedding, then gave it to the bride to ring, and then the groom. The noise alone could cut through fog (one of the bell’s original purposes), and certainly gets attention. Everyone laughed knowingly.

Another bride and groom (Italian and Irish heritage) had a dainty bell. I instructed the bride to ring it with two hands, saying, “The Bell of Truce is a Celtic custom—a medium of compromise. Keep this bell at home as a reminder of your wedding day. Should a lover’s quarrel ever rise to the heights that only the Italians and Irish can usually achieve, I encourage either of you to get to the bell if you can, as fast as you can, and ring it with all the fury of a Valkyrie on a mission. The sound of this bell will serve to remind you both of your vows and to help you relive your happiest memories as you call a truce. As a sign of unity and serenity, and to get used to the sound, I ask you each to ring your wedding bell of truce now. (The bride rang it first, and shyly.) No, no. Use two hands and ring it with fury!” The guests who knew her thought this a funny, happy thing for her to do, for the bride was normally shy. She exerted herself and rang it loudly. She took to it well and rang that bell gleefully several times during the reception, much to her guests’ joy.

Smile when you think of Your day, your way!