Throughout the years, I have had the honor of photographing many weddings across a variety of different cultures. However, this most recent Navajo wedding ceremony was a personal highlight.
Nichole and Edmund were married at a private estate in the foothills of Mt Hood. The couple celebrated their union amongst close family and friends in a traditional Navajo wedding ceremony.
To begin the ceremony, the groom and his family and friends traditionally enter a Hogan (a traditional home of the Navajo people) and sit on the west side facing the east. They enter the Hogan clockwise. Nichole and Edmund had a structure made to designate the location of the ceremony.
Once Edmund and his family and friends entered the ceremony area, Nichole and her family followed. Nichole carried the traditional wedding ceremony basket containing a sacred corn mush. She entered the ceremony area and sat next to Edmund. Her family entered in clockwise and sat on the right side. Nichole’s father carried the traditional water jug, cup, and corn pollen.
The wedding was opened with a prayer and then the corn mush was blessed with corn pollen by Nichole’s father. A line was made from east to west and back to east. Another line was made from south to north and back to south and then the corn mush was outlined with the corn pollen in a circular shape going clockwise, starting from the east direction and making a full circle. Water was poured into the gourd and given to Edmund and Nichole to wash their hands. Then, Edmund took a pinch of corn mush from the east direction and ate it. Nichole followed. They continued to the south, west, and north, and then took a pinch from the middle of the mush. Traditionally, the remaining mush is passed onto the groom’s family to finish, however, Nichole and Edmund offered for anyone to come up and try the corn mush.
Four different elders gave words of wisdom to encourage the young newlyweds. Then, Nichole and her friends and family fed Edmund and his family to conclude the ceremony. Frybread and soup were served to guests and the wedding day celebrations continued on well into the evening.
Here are some highlights from Nichole & Edmund’s Navajo wedding ceremony: