An Eclectic Native American Style Wedding Ceremony Explanation of Symbols Used and Brief Ceremony About this Ceremony: There are many different Native American tribes, or nations, and each has a rich and varied set of cultural practices and traditions, as well as symbols and rituals. For weddings specific to any one nation, you should research the traditional weddings of that nation. This ceremony blends common themes and symbols from a variety of traditions, into one which honors the many contributions made by Native Americans. It was adapted from a ceremony listed on http://www.pueblopotteryme.com/weddingceremony.htm. It may be used by couples from different nations or tribes, or for couples who wish for their ceremony to honor the indigenous peoples of the United States, and the spirituality that is expressly, and uniquely American. The setting: The Native American Wedding Ceremony is one that takes place outdoors, with Father Sky as the roof of the most sacred cathedral, and Mother Earth at your feet to hold you, and the trees and plants to surround you and embrace you. Saging: The circle will be saged by the Minister, Sacred Tobacco given to the grandfathers & grandmothers of the plants and stone people as gifts for allowing us to do our ceremony in their space. The Medicine Circle: All of the guests will be invited into the Medicine Circle - the Sacred Medicine Wheel that is symbolic of Life and the connection and continuity of all living things. As they enter the Circle, they will be saged (cleansed and purified), and symbolically enter the womb. For when you leave the circle, you are reborn as anew: a married person - not just to each other, but to the family and the community, and they to you. Circle: North: Elders South: Young married couples & children East: Young men West: Veterans & warriors There should be chairs for the elders who cannot stand. Wedding party duties and set-up: The Wedding party & parents will be in the center of the Circle, and will be saged. The Sisters/mothers will carry the baskets, and will hand them to the Bride & Groom during the Basket Exchange which symbolizes the tangibles of how the couple will take care of each other during their marriage. The families and the guests in the Circle will be invited to come up and give a personal Blessing to the Couple, anything from a hug and kiss to reading a poem, or whatever. Everything is appropriate. This allows the Community to be a part of the Ceremony as well as symbolically welcoming them into the Community. The Wedding Blanket: The Wedding Blanket is carried by sisters/siblings, and the tying of the Blanket symbolizes the Union of the two lives. It will be folded and carried to a safe place by the Mothers after the ceremony. It may not touch the ground until the Wedding has been consummated. The Wedding Baskets - Basically, the baskets can contain whatever is symbolically important to you. Baskets should be lined and covered with a red cloth. In many tribes, the women are sifters, growers and weavers, so their baskets are symbols of the gifts they bring to marriage. Likewise, men are usually hunters, fisherman and warriors, so their basket items are symbolic of those gifts. Bride's Basket: 2 ears of corn (corn is a symbol of fertility) Cornmeal Other plant-foods such as: beans, tobacco, peaches, grapes, strawberries, squash or gourds, pignons, wild “rice”, herbal tea leaves Groom's Basket: Beef Jerky (or dried meats) Animal Hide (Optional) Marriage Branch: Cedar branch with a fork, to be hung over the bed. Water in a bowl: Water is used as a symbol of purification and cleansing. The bride and groom have a ceremonial washing of hands to wash away past wrongdoings and memories of past loves. Appropriate Music - Ask someone to play an Indian Love Flute. Legend says that this flute, which is carved out of cedar wood, holds the power of attraction and was used to enhance courtship. WEDDING CEREMONY INTRODUCTION BY OFFICIANT Welcomes guests, and explains symbols (above). WATER Bride and groom wash hands to purify. SAGING Saging of all guests, and wedding party. EXCHANGE OF BASKETS (Officiant To Bride): "(NAME), what do you provide for this union of marriage?" Mother of Bride will hand Bride the Bride's basket. Bride: "I provide these things to my husband and home. They are a symbol that I will care for you and love you always." (TO Groom): "(Name), what do you provide for this union of marriage?" Mother of Groom will hand Groom the Groom's basket. Groom: "I provide these things to my wife. They are a symbol that I will provide love, and protect our family always." (TO Bride & Groom): "You may exchange baskets." Bride & Groom to set baskets in front of them, and hold hands. READING OR BLESSING (*more blessing options at the end of the text) 1. Apache Wedding Blessing Now you will feel no rain, for you will be shelter to each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you. Soon you will go to your resting place, to enter into the days of your togetherness. May your days be good and long upon the earth. 2. Native American Blessing Above you are the stars, below you are the stones. As time does pass, remember: Like a star should your love be constant. Like a stone should your love be firm. Be close, yet not too close. Possess one another, yet be understanding. Have patience with the other; for storms will come, but they will go quickly. Be free in giving of affection and warmth. Make love often, and be sensuous to one another. Have no fear, and let not the ways of words of the unenlightened give you unease. For the Great Spirit is with you, now and always. COMMUNITY BLESSINGS Personal Blessings by Family and Wedding Guests (May be written and read or spoken from the heart by close relatives or from anyone in circle who wishes to share.) TRADITIONAL VOWS (if desired) Bride and groom each repeat after Officiant: “I, (NAME,) take you (NAME,) as my (wife, husband). I do solemnly avow my love for you. I will comfort you, keep you, love you, defend you in sickness or in health, in riches or poverty, in sorrow or joy, seeking only to be with you until death parts us. All these things I pledge upon my honor.” WEDDING VASE Officiant: “The wedding vase has two spouts coming from the same vessel. As individuals, you bring together different strengths and you come from different families and backgrounds (or different tribes or nations). You have had different experiences. The two spouts of the wedding vase represent each of you as individuals. As husband and wife, you will continue to be individuals, yet you will always drink from the same vessel of life. The common vessel represents all that you will share together.” Bride and groom each drink from wedding vase. WEDDING BLANKET The Mothers wrap the wedding blanket around Bride & Groom. There should be enough of an opening that others can see while they exchange rings. RING BLESSING Officiant: “Circles have no beginning and has no end, and so in the long and sacred tradition of marriage rings have come to symbolize eternal love and endless union of body, of mind, and of the spirit. ………… Aho!” EXCHANGE RINGS Bride and groom each say to each other, while exchanging rings: ”This ring is a symbol of my love and faithfulness, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, and pledge to you my love and life.” PRONOUNCEMENT Officiant: “Father Sky and Mother Earth, creator and nurturer of all life, we give heartfelt thanks for the moment that brought ( , ) together in the Holy State of Marriage…….. Aho!” Now as you (NAME ) and you (NAME ) have consented together in matrimony and have pledged your faith to each other by the giving and the receiving of these rings before your family and Community; according to the powers invested in me by the State of (your state), I NOW PRONOUNCE THAT YOU ARE HUSBAND AND WIFE. You may seal your union with a kiss.” Officiant walks Bride & Groom to a blanket spread on the ground. Officiant unties the Wedding Blanket that is around them. Sisters will fold the blanket and put it in a safe place. OPTIONAL: MARRIAGE BRANCH and 7 DANCES (Groom): "This marriage branch is a symbol of our love for each other, and for our lives becoming as one." Bride & Groom will notch the branch while Best Man gently shakes the turtle rattle. The drums begin and guests dance around the couple 7 times placing gifts on the blanket before them The Wedding Blanket is folded and tied by Bride & Groom and taken on the honeymoon. The blanket will not touch the ground until the marriage is consummated. END OF CEREMONY *Alternative Readings Cherokee Wedding Prayer God in heaven above please protect the ones we love. We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor mother-earth - and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons; We honor fire and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts; We honor wind and ask we sail though life safe and calm as in our father's arms; We honor water to clean and soothe our relationship - that it may never thirsts for love; With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as we forever grow young together. Amen Aztec Indian Wedding Poem I know not whether thou has been absent: I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee, In my dreams thou art with me. If my eardrops tremble in my ears, I know it is thou moving within my heart. Traditional Wedding Prayer of the Great Plains Indian 0 Morning Star! When you look down upon us, give us peace and refreshing sleep. Great Spirit! Bless our children, friends, and visitors through a happy life. May our trails lie straight and level before us. Let us live to be old. We are all your children and ask these things with good hearts. Cherokee Blessing God in heaven above, Please protect the ones we love. We honor all that you created As we pledge our hearts and lives together. We honor Mother Earth -And ask for our marriage to be abundant, And to grow stronger through the seasons We honor fire -And ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts. We honor wind -And ask that we sail through life safely and calm as in our father's arms. We honor water -To clean and soothe our relationship that it may never thirst for love. With all the forces of the universe you created, We pray for harmony and true happiness As we forever grow young together. Inuit Wedding Vow You are my husband/wife My feet shall run because of you. My feet dance because of you. My eyes see because of you. My mind thinks because of you. And I shall love because of you.
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