Offbeat partners: Erin and Mark
Location and Date: Mountain View, Oklahoma – 10/22/2022
Our Kiowa/Irish handfasting wedding at a glance:
We wanted to celebrate both of our families — Irish/Scottish on my side, Kiowa on his — so our ceremony was a handfasting wedding, held on Mark's family's allotment land. One of the things that tie both our families and cultures together is a love of horses, so including “wedding horses” felt perfect to us.
Tell us about your Kiowa/Irish handfasting wedding:
We had rented a van to transport out-of-town folks – the site of the ceremony was pretty far out there, and as we pulled in I got my first good cry of the day: I knew that some of my cousins were coming in kilts – but I didn't expect that many of my dearest friends would, as well, regardless of their own heritage! Seeing them lined up waiting for me when we pulled in was amazing.
As folks started to gather for the ceremony, we guided them into the ceremonial teepee for individual smudging and blessings with a family elder. This helped get everyone in the right frame of mind for the day.
We were still scrambling to get the tables decorated, and everything set, so we also put a lot of folks to work! Never be afraid to ask your guests to shovel manure. 🙂
We began with a modified version of the “Dressing and Blessing,” a Kiowa tradition where typically the bride is dressed in the family's clothing by her new family before the ceremony. Instead, we each had the families meet and give us each something as an official welcome.
Mark's family is deeply involved in powwow culture and gave me a dance shawl. My family, in turn, gave him a pouch with four pieces of the four colors of Connemara marble from the four corners of Ireland.
We had the handfasting as we recited our vows, using a strip of Irish linen for me, and a strip of white buckskin for him:
MIKO: In honor of Erin’s people, Mark and Erin’s hands will be held fast in the ancient Irish tradition as they make their vows. Her people will be represented with Irish linen, and Mark’s people will be represented by the length of buckskin.
[Miko attaches the lengths of linen and buckskin while saying the line below]
May this knot bind you one to another, and may your vows hold fast as does this knot.
MIKO: Mark and Erin have written their own vows in accordance with their values and sensibilities. These vows reflect their promises to each other as well as their promises to themselves.
MIKO: Mark and Erin – Will you please begin with your vows of Honesty and Partnership.
Erin: I will always be honest with you as I endeavor to always be honest with myself.
Mark: I accept you as a whole and imperfect being, just as you accept me.
Erin: I will explore and cherish the rewards of intimacy as I continue to explore my deeper self.
Together: With this understanding, I choose this partnership.
MIKO: Please continue with your vows of Honor and Family.
Mark: I accept your family as my family, and will honor them accordingly.
Erin: I will support and celebrate your family as I do my own.
Mark: I will accept responsibility for them when they are in need.
Together: With this understanding, I choose this family.
MIKO: Please continue with your vows of Loyalty.
Erin: I entrust you with my life and my future.
Mark: I accept responsibility for your life and happiness, while maintaining responsibility for my own.
Erin: I will strive to deliberately evolve alongside you, while never denying your individuality and always thinking of us as a family.
Together: With this understanding, I choose this way of life.
MIKO: And finally, please exchange your vows of Love.
Mark: I will forever be your partner in adventure and your champion to the world.
Erin: I will prioritize you above all others and be a diligent steward of our love.
Mark: I will zealously uphold these vows, and remain at your side for the rest of my days.
Together: With this understanding, I choose this marriage.
[Afterward was the Blanket Ceremony, where our mothers wrapped us in a blanket to symbolize the warmth and comfort of both families around us.]
Tell us about the Kiowa/Irish Punk handfasting wedding reception:
After the ceremony, we had round dancing. Mark's family actually has their own drum group, and they sang for us!
We had an amazing Pawnee caterer that cooked bison for us over an open fire, along with fry bread, corn soup, hominy, salmon, and some excellent vegan chili!
For dessert, we had three cakes. It was no more expensive to get three nice “normal cakes” than a single “wedding cake,” so why not?
What was the most important lesson you learned from your handfasting wedding?
We handmade a LOT of this. And watching out families and friends come together in the last few days before the wedding to bust out the things we needed to do was incredible. The lesson is: use all of the amazingly talented humans around you!
Kiowa/Irish handfasting wedding vendors
- Dress: Pinup Girl Clothing
- Food: The Wolf's Plate
- Music: Redstone Singers
- Photographer: Darren Eskandari
- Grass Bouquets: FiftyFlowers
- Cakes: OKC Sweets