If you choose the tribal wedding option we can highly recommend our Navajo officiant Larry at Monument Valley to hold your authentic Navajo style wedding. He will give you an insight on the wedding traditions of the Navajo people.
Although the tribal ceremony option is only a small insight into the traditions it will be an unforgettable experience.
Here is what the tribal wedding ceremony normally consists of:
The key elements that form the tribal option will be the handwashing ritual with the Navajo wedding vase and the Cornmeal sharing. Learn more about the Navajo tradtions in the Interview-Videos below.
Certainly you can add vows, exchange of rings and on request also other elements you like from our suggestions.
See more details about different ceremony elements here: Ceremony Elements
Larry and Charlotte
Your Navajo officiant team!
Navajo wedding traditions
Learn About Navajo Wedding Traditions. Navajo Officiant Larry and Charlotte talk about Navajo Wedding Traditions and the process of a traditional Navajo Wedding. They also explain what Navajo Wedding Rituals are available to couples for our Tribal Package
such as the Navajo Wedding Vase/Handwashing Ritual and the Navajo Basket/Cornmealsharing.
"Ya'at'eeh! Hello! That's how in Navajo, we say hello.
My name is Larry Holiday, I'm from the Navajo
tribe. I come from the Monument Valley Utah .
I'm a very Navajo traditional person.
We get to do a lot of the traditional ceremonies, traditional counseling, here on the Navajo Reservation."
"Ya'at'eeh, my name is Charlotte Salt,
I am originally from Kayenta, Arizona.
So like you said, we are very traditional
persons. We do welcome you to Monument Valley!"
"When we do a Navajo traditional ceremony,
this is how we dress up,
and then also there's elderly involved and there's adults involved in the ceremony.
Most of the time, the traditional ceremony will take place in this beautiful Hogan, we call it hogan, it's a home to us and we do ceremonies inside the Hogan.
When we're preparing a Navajo wedding, there's lot of family involvement, a lot of community involvement.
When we do a traditional ceremony we call it "iigeh"
means wedding or also we call it ___,
means on the groom's
side they bring horses to the bride's family."
Traditional Ceremony Process
"As you can see, this is the hogan.
The male, the groom
will come with his family first,
they would ride in the horses and one of the bride's
side will designate either an uncle, the dad, a grandfather,
they would designate somebody to
He would take off the saddle, he would bring the saddle
and set it down, one (saddle) for the groom to sit.
Then the family will all follow, will all come in.
The bride's side of the family
will be on this, your right hand side.
Then after a while the bride
will come in.
She will have her mush,
so this is what we call the corn mush.
This is what the bride will bring.
Her face would be covered.
Then the family will follow and they would sit on
the right hand side
and she would have designated another person,
who would bring in the water vase.
This is the Navajo vase, that he would bring in.
He would actually be the one,
who would perform the ceremony.
So this will be placed on the ground
and then they would lecture them
and then the person that brings in the the water vase,
will pour on both of their hands,
which they both will
cleanse themselves, the female and the male.
Then after a while, they would explain to them
the four directions,
where they will pick the mush,
the East, the West, the South and the North.
And then they will pick it down the middle.
That's how the mush is eaten between the
bride and the groom.
Then once that is done, the groom side of the family
will eat all of the mush.
They will eat everything.
That's what they would do.
The Navajo basket belongs to
the bride and the groom,
which they keep for themselves
and they can put their valuables in there,
their turquoise, all the jewelries, whatever is valueable to them
and they just leave it in the home.
The bride's side will feed the groom side of the family.
They will feast and everything.
Then after that, once everybody has eaten,
we provide gift baskets to the groom's side.
We give them gift baskets with
all the food, because back in the old days,
you know how they did their journey
on the wagon with the horses,
so as they head on home, they have
something to eat on the way home.
So that's what they would do.
At the same time, while they're still in here,
they start lecturing the bride and the groom.
They'll tell them, what the rights, the wrongs are,
what they should do, what they shouldn't do.
So it's just more like a counseling for them, so as they learn.
That's what a whole Navajo wedding is
for the Navajo side."
Intro to Tribal Package
"Providing a wedding for you guys
(Wild West Wedding L.L.C.), we will do the basics.
We'll do the Navajo basket with the corn mush
and there will be a wedding vase involved.
Those are two, the main things, that are provided,
when it comes to doing a Navajo wedding for you guys
(Wild West Wedding L.L.C.) out there."
Learn more details about what Navajo Wedding Rituals are available in the Tribal Package, the meaning and the making of of the Navajo Wedding Vase, the Navajo Basket, the Sage Ritual and more. Larry & Charlotte also share insights in their personal experience on how traditional Navajo wedding ceremonies are held today and share more in-depth knowledge about traditions in connection with weddings and marriage.
Intro Part 2
DETAILS AND MEANINGS OF RITUALS, SYMBOLS AND ELEMENTS IN NAVAJO WEDDING CEREMONIES AND TRADITIONS
"Providing a wedding for you guys (Wild West Wedding L.L.C.:
We will do the basics. We will do the Navajo basket with the corn mush.
There will be a wedding vase involved.
Those are the main two things, that are provided, when it comes to doing a Navajo wedding for you guys (Wild West Wedding L.L.C.) out there.
If you like to do the wedding with us, we have the vase, we have the corn mush
and the wedding baskets and we will work with youand anything that you would like:
your own vows, your personal vows
but this is the most important thing, the hand washing and the corn mush,eating the corn mush,
that's the main part of the traditional Navajo wedding,that we do, as of today.
Because the real traditional wedding is a lot."
"Most of our couples are just a here for short trip and get married and want to incorporate some
special elements, so that's what it's about."
SAGE & Blessing
"In the ceremony, when we do a wedding ceremony, there's going to be a bundle of sage.
The the sage, it comes from the mother earth and when we're collecting the Sage,
we do we offer to the Mother Earth.We collect it and then that way we smudge or
we bless the people that are getting married. We bless them to get all the past, the negative stuff off with the smoke from the sage.
And then when we start with a new vow.
We bless it with a new beginning, fresh beginning,happy beginning.
That's what the sage is for. So that's what we do with the sage.
At that time, when we do the blessing, a lot of time, what I do to the couples, is I will speak in my own language
and I will do the blessing in my Navajo language.
So that's the way I'm more comfortable talking to the Creator."
NAVAJO WEDDING VASE
"Let me let me share you, how this vase is made.
This vase is comes from the Mother Earth. It's clay.
When they're making the pottery, ceramic, that's what it's made of.
And then once they put all the clay and then they build a fire
and the kindle, they put it underneath the fire.
That's why you see these natural burns here.
And then they cook it and then once they finished cooking it, they take it out
and then they glaze it. It's glazed with pine gum.
They pour the pine gum on the outside and then also in the inside.
Then you let it dry out for maybe a week and then after a week it'll be a waterproof vase.
That's what we use.
One side, we do it for the male and one side, we do it for the female.
So when we pour this on their hands, we cleanse them.
All the things that they went through, with the bad things.
It always will be washed off.
And they're going to start a new marriage.
That's what that vase is for."
NAVAJO VASE USED IN TRADITIONAL CEREMONY
"This is actually my daughter's wedding vase that's to show you guys.
So since my father had cleansed her, both of them, this is his gift to keep.
They bought the vase and this was
given to him. So he keeps this.
He cherishes this at all times.
So this is the actual vase, that my daughter actually got married in."
NAVAJO WEDDING BASKET
"Larry will explain the Navajo basket, what it represents."
"The Navajo wedding basket is used inside the ceremony and you can see there's a red design and there's a a darker design and then there's
a white on the outside.
If you look on the back side it's kind of back to back.
The plant that we use is sumac, that's what we use.and this, the weaving that they use for the weaving is right in the middle of the sumic that's what they use.
Once they start weaving inside the white one, there's an entire whole sumic stem in here.
They use dye to make this black or they dye into red.
So when these Navajo weavers, when they're doing this, they have stories to it.
And there's a lot of meanings to it.
To me, when I look at this and the teaching from our elderly,
they point out that the center is a fireplace in the Hogan.
Then here there's a fire space, a white point there
that represents a human being, five finger human being.
Also the red one represents the rainbow, all different types of moisture that come down.
The rain that comes down.
On the outside it represents all the sacred mountains that surround the Navajo reservation.
The white one here, it represents the universe.
There's always an opening, there's always a doorway
just like your home, just like the Hogan. It's always open,
so you always have open mind
you always have a door open for you to continue on with your journey,
with your marriage, with your loved ones.
That's what represents.
A Navajo wedding basket."
"Here we are right in the middle of the heart of Navajo land.
On the Navajo reservation we call it the ___.
On the ___ there's East, there's South, West and North.
When you get up early in the morning to the East there's a sacred mountain.
And then if you go to the South there's another sacred mountain.
And then to the West
and then to the North
There's four Sacred Mountain, the main ones.
So when we do the ceremony, we offer them,
we remember them in the blessing.
So when they do their wedding, when they're doing their traveling, you know, when they're out there, it protects them.
And then there's several more (Directions).
There's two more between the East and the South there's two more that represents also the doorway.
And all these sacred Mountains
that are all surrounding us, there's colors to it. There's colors to it.
To the to the East the color is white,
when you see the first day the new morning.
and then to the South
and then also to the West
and then to the North
they all have colors.
That's what it represents.
the (white) shell, you know,
the black stones, the yellow stones.
That all represents those Directions.
So when we will be matching those inside the ceremony
and that's how we do it."
"When the bride comes in with the mush,
she has a blanket, which covers her face, everything.
It represents that the sunlight is not supposed to hit her at all. It represents for her to keep her beauty. That's what it represents.
That's the reason why the bride comes in, and once we she sits down, she's able to take off the blanket.
So it represents the beauty from getting the age spots, the wrinkles.
That's why we have the bride come
So then once the groom is here, they do the hand washing,
the mush eating and everything.
And then can put the blanket around both of them
but it's just mainly on the bride's side."
"The groom, the men, once they ride their horse,
they're going to have a blanket on the horse.
They take the blanket off the saddle and they put the blanket on them. On the side.
They don't cover them, they just kind of have them on the side.
Also that blanket it's like a shield. You know how the knights that have those metal plates, that's what it represents.
So they have protection from all the bad stuff
and the evil and the witchcraft.
So that's how they come into the Hogan, come into the ground, where they're doing do the ceremony."
REAL NAVAJO TRADTITONAL WEDDING TODAY
"A real traditional wedding
that we've actually done, was back in November 2019.
Our daughter actually had the Navajo traditional wedding,
where the groom did come on the horse,
she had her favorite uncle that brought in the saddle.
The family followed.
Then her grandpa, my dad, he actually performed the ceremony.
He did the handwashing for them.
My mom did the mush, their baskets.
So the sizes of baskets vary. So it varies.
So some could be really big with a lot of mush,
because it it all depends on the Grooms side,
how many of the grooms family come.
It takes a family effort to do a big traditional wedding,
that's what it does.
I actually had to go on my dad's side of the family and asked them: "Can you help provide the cooking for the family?"
Then my mom's side of the family,
I asked them for the wedding gifts.
The gifts, that we provide to the Grooms family,
would actually be the traditional food: mutton, tortillas, fried bread.
They actually would have like a Navajo cake in there.
We actually have like a little small cake that looks like it's blue,
the blue corn but it's made like a tamale.
So we actually provide that to the groom's side of the family.
And then plus extras whatever: coffee, flour,
sugar, baking powder. That would be used, when they take it home, to make their own food, back to them.
So it it's just not one little thing
but it it's everybody has to get involved.
Since time has changed from the older days.
Back in the older days ,
couples didn't know each other.
The bride and the groom did not know each other, that's what they
call "arranged marriage".
They would do that back in the old days.
So they would make arrangements. The groom's family would come to another family and say
"Hey you have daughters, I would like my
son to marry your daughter. We would give you...
They would tell them: "We would give you like livestock, we would give you the turquoise"
and a belt, some jeweleries" back then they would do that.
"So it's similar to an engagement gift, right?"
Well, it's more like it's an offering for
the family so that the daughter can come and be with their son.
That's what that is.
So with my daughter, the groom;s family had asked me:
"Well, what would you like?"
It's like a payment, but I don't see it as a payment.
I was taught you never ask. Tell them what you want.
So when my daughter and my my son-in-law,
when they started dating,
she had to prove, that she was
going to be a good daughter-in-law to the grooms family.
so we had to teach her, how to cook, to clean
and to actually butcher a sheep
make the bread, everything that she would provide
for the groom's side of the family.
The in-laws, she's proven that to them.
It's more like, we prepared her for it.
I just told them: "Okay you've seen, what she can do.
She showed you what we had taught her.
It's up to you to decide what you would like to
give me as a gift."
So I actually/ we received two cows (and with the price of beef now these days) we actually got two cows.
We actually got a silver belt, some jewelries plus a blanket,
so that's what was given to me/us as a gift.
Because they were really impressed
with our daughter, with what we had taught her, what she could do.
So as of today, they are still married, which is good.
The reason why she had chosen
her grandfather to do the ceremony is, because my parents actually had been married for 57 years.
So that's why she had chosen her Grandpa,
what we call her ___ to do the ceremony.
To get them together.
Then we then from there, we did them to the today's society's (wedding). We actually had the whole wedding reception.
She had her guests. So we moved outside to a tent.
And then we also had the Justice of the peace gave them their marriage license and everything.
So that's how all comes together.
That's how it all works."
"So now out there on the Navajo reservation,
when we do the Navajo traditional wedding, we call it ____
That means the groom side, they're going to bring
all the horses to the bride's family.
What they do is: On the bride's family they build a corral.
The groom's family, they put all those horses in the in the corral.
That's what it means.
So once they finish all the agreement in the wedding,
all the bride's family: they go to corral.
And speak their interest in the horses or the
cows. They take it with them.
'cause they've been helping the bride's parents preparing,
doing all the preparations."
"In the Navajo wedding, when this uncle
brings in the saddle, into the wedding, into the Hogan, into the Tippi
and then the groom comes in and sitting right next to the saddle.
Down the road if the in-laws disagree with their son in-law.
What they do is they get the saddle, they take the saddle
and they put it outside.
It's more like, it's a divorce there.
That's what that symbol of the saddle is.
That's what it represents."
FAMILY TRADITION, WHEN WIFE PASSES AWAY
"The couple would get married. And if for some reason
the wife passed away, the (bride's) sister would step in to be the new wife.
That's how it was back in the old days.
He actually has an uncle that was like that.
And it doesn't matter how old you are.
He has an uncle that had his first wife and she had passed away, and so the (wife's) sister stepped in.
And he married her again. So that's how it works.
From the first (wife) he's got the kids. Then he's got the second one with the kids but they're all brothers and sister, because they're all same in the same bloodline."