Native American Wedding Ceremonies

Published on October 23, 2013 by Amy

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Native American Wedding Cake
Native American Wedding Cake

Native American wedding ceremonies are full of rich tradition. There are many different types of Native American wedding ceremonies, so if you are considering this type of wedding, keep reading for some great information and ideas.

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History of Native American Wedding Customs

One of the first steps that an intended groom had to take was to receive permission to marry from the woman’s family. This was essential, and often permission must also have been granted by the priest. In many tribes, gifts of clothing, food, livestock, and services were exchanged between the two families, symbolizing a joining between all of those involved in the marriage.

Divorce, while not unheard of, did not occur very often. Marriage was seen as a life venture, but if divorce did occur, generally the couple’s possessions were divided up equally, and any children stayed with the mother. The white marriage blanket was often split in two, sympolizing the breaking up of the marriage.

Once a couple was married, it was common for the groom to live with his bride’s family, although sometimes the couple was given his and her own place to live. The groom was suppose to look after and provide for his bride’s family, and he was to be subservient to his mother-in-law. There wasn’t typically a formal honeymoon, but the young couple were given plenty of alone time, and many of the tribe might also provide them food. In many tribes, decorative baskets full of corn, a symbol of fertility, were given to the young couple. Pottery filled with household supplies was also given as gifts to help the newlyweds begin their lives together. In return, the newlyweds were to perform charitable works for members of their tribe.

Rite of the Seven Steps Native American Wedding Ceremony

In this ceremony, the couple take seven steps clockwise around a sacred fire. The groom will take the first step, stop, and recite a vow. The bride will follow suit. This ritual continues to take place as they both complete the seven steps. In some instances, the bride and groom exchange small gifts that are symbolic of their love and life together, such as ears of corn, feathers, stones, etc. The corn stands for fertility. The feathers represent loyalty, and the stones symbolize strength. As the bride and groom take their symbolic walk, the guests join hands forming a circle around them and the fire.

Ceremony of the Rings

Although the availability of rings was doubtful in ancient ceremonies, this tradition has become popular in many weddings. The exchanging of rings symbolizes eternal love that has no beginning and no end.

Blanket Ceremony

The blanket ceremony remains a popular choice among those couples who want an Indian wedding ceremony. Both the bride and the groom are given a blue blanket, which represents all of the sorrows and hardships in their past lives. They are wrapped in these blankets at the beginning of the ceremony. After the blessing of the union, the blue blankets are removed, and the couple is wrapped in one white blanket together, which they might wear for the remainder of the ceremony.

Fire Ceremony

The fire ceremony is a lovely tradition that some couples choose to incorporate into their wedding ceremonies today. During this ceremony, a fire circle is created using stones and seven types of wood. There is one large unlit stack of firewood built in the center of the circle, as well as two small fires that sit to the north and south of the circle. These small fires represent the bride and groom’s individual lives. After the two smalls fires are lit, prayers are offered by the bride and groom, and then they push their individual fires into the center stack of wood, igniting one large fire.

Planning an Native American Wedding

If you are considering an Native American wedding ceremony for your wedding to celbrate your own or your fiancee’s heritage, there are several points that you should consider.

  • Select the place for your ceremony. Most couples prefer an outdoor wedding for this type of wedding ceremony. If you plan on having it in a public park, be sure you obtain permission first.
  • Choose your traditions. Decide which traditions or trends that you want to incorporate into your ceremony.
  • Write or choose your vows and prayers. You may choose to include traditional Indian vows and prayers in your ceremony.
  • Choose your music. You must decide if you want live music, recorded music, or a combination of both. Flutes make lovely musical instrument choices if you know someone who can play.
  • Choose your wedding attire. Do you want the traditional Indian attire for you and your wedding party? If so, you may need to commission a seamstress or order the clothing online.
  • Finally, make your plans as far in advance as possible. This is essential!

Source: lovetoknow Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
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