From Irish blessings to Italian toasts, people have many ways of blending their heritages into their wedding ceremonies. While many Americans have such European ties, many also have ties to their present country. By blending your Native American heritage into your wedding ceremony, you can pay homage to your history as you look toward your future.
Something Old, Something New
Incorporating your Native American heritage into your ceremony doesn’t mean you have to have an old-fashioned wedding. If you want modern attire, modern music and modern vows, go for it. It’s your wedding.
The beauty of some popular Native American wedding blessings and rituals is the ease with which you can integrate them into any type of wedding ceremony. You could, of course, follow all the traditions of your tribe, such as blessing the spot of your ceremony for seven days and exchanging food instead of rings, as in Cherokee wedding tradition, or you could choose a few aspects of that tradition and work them into the ceremony. That way, you get the best of both your worlds.
One of the simplest ways to incorporate your Native American heritage into your wedding ceremony is to borrow a few words, either by incorporating a traditional blessing or having a friend recite a blessing or prayer in the language of your tribe.
To ensure authenticity, consider getting help in researching traditional blessings. You can do this by visiting a cultural center dedicated to the history and traditions of your tribe, such as the Chickasaw Cultural Center, the Cherokee Heritage Center, or the Muscogee Nation Cultural Center, or by contacting the center if you don’t have the opportunity to visit. The mission of these centers is to promote the culture of their tribe, so they’ll be happy to help you with your wedding.
If you would like to incorporate your Native American heritage in a more prevalent way, add a traditional ritual to your wedding ceremony. One popular ritual, known as the blanket ceremony, is a beautiful visual expression of the marriage rite. Each party wears a separate blue blanket, representing the trials and sorrow of their pasts, until the blessing of their marriage, upon which they exchange the blue blankets for a single white blanket that wraps around them both.
Another cross-tribal ritual is The Rite of Seven Steps. In this ritual, the couple takes steps around a fire, reciting vows back and forth between each step.
The inclusion of your Native American heritage doesn’t have to stop with the ceremony. Consider traditional dress or music in your ceremony, or ask your family to prepare a few of the traditional dishes passed down from your ancestors for the reception.
When you incorporate your Native American heritage into your wedding day with small touches, you leave room for the other strands of your ancestry. Few of us Americans stem from only a single culture. Your wedding is the perfect opportunity to meld your roots to design a ceremony that encompasses every aspect of the unique individual you are.