Black Hills Wedding
We’ve just spent the past weekend on the plains of South Dakota for the most unique wedding I’ve ever seen. The ceremony took place on the sacred ground of an Indian reservation on a wild horse sanctuary and the reception on the other side of the same hills.
The ceremony itself was ripe with meaning and incorporated elements of Native American tradition, including taking the vows in front of the Tree of Life inside the sacred circle. The bride and groom had a men’s circle and a women’s circle the week before the wedding, and the men’s circle did a sweat lodge inside one of the teepees. I loved this idea (although the sweat lodge was a little intense for me when I did it a few years ago) before a wedding ceremony.
The bride and groom spent the week leading up to the ceremony in the Black Hills with their friends and family. Some camped and other rented houses in the area that were breathtaking log cabins with gorgeous South Dakota views (pictures below from the day before the ceremony). The couple hunted a buffalo on the reservation a few weeks before the ceremony and all of the celebrations leading up to and at the event served buffalo meat as part of the meal. The bridal couple named the ceremonial buffalo (which I learned on the trip is actually a “bison”) “Freedom.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the bride and groom walked and then ran up a hill into the sunset before the bride was scooped up into her new husband’s arms while stealing extra kisses…it was quite spectacular to witness, for sure!
The approximately 150 guests then moved to the reception area just on the other side of the hill of the horse sanctuary. The location required that everything from tables, silverware, wine, speakers, generators, and kegs be transported to the site and set up–no easy fete considering the remote location (30 minutes from a small town and an hour and a half from the airport, which by the way required a connecting flight for most guests who attended the wedding). The wedding invite directed guests to wear “country chic”, but the country turned out to be more chic than country, resembling Ralph Lauren advertisements I’ve seen in Vogue. Even the smallest details reflected the unique couple, who have such diverse and fascinating interests. For example, the guest gift was made by the groom for his bride–as the owner of a salsa company in Brooklyn, he specially blended and bottled a hot sauce based on ingredients she likes. The tables were adorned with various, multi-colored bottles containing wildflowers picked from the area, while mason jars doubled as votives and drinking vessels–divine!
Everything from the wedding invite, to the water, to the napkin roll garnish included fresh sage from the reservation. After midnight between the organic melon soup with fresh mint, ginger, and lime and the veggie and American Bison tagine while Johnny Cash played in the heart of the South Dakota plains, we burned the sage at the tables lighting the small bunches with the votive candles on the table.
Loads of pictures being taken against the hills, the buffalo hide being laid out, laughing, dancing, and genuine joy for the happy occasion.
As the sun set, the party, nestled in the black hills, was lit only by the table votives and candles burning inside the mason jars hung with brown string from the wooden structure. We left before the moon rose at 1:40 am but the party continued all night with most of the late-nighters camping nearby, including the wedding couple.