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A once in a life time First Nations Wedding in Canada

So with my sweaty palms and butterflies in my stomach and Alex looking perplexed, we sat at the table and Clark explained what he had been planning!

He had been in touch with the First Nation Community and asked if it would be possible for one of their community members to hold a ceremony for us. The First Nation Community do not usually do this sort of thing so the Elders had to be asked and if they did not approve; it would not be possible. Clark spoke to Sewit who is the speaker for the Coast Salish Nation and asked him if he would do us the honour of speaking for us. 

Sewit said he would love to and approached the Elders with Clarks’ request which was luckily accepted and Sewit happily agreed to be our ‘master of ceremony’ in an amalgamation of a traditional First Nations Community wedding and a western union.

We couldn’t believe he had managed to arrange all of this for us and it was just what we had dreamed of doing! To have a wedding ceremony that embraces Canada’s history and culture was our dream goal but we had no way of making these connections as complete outsiders!

We had been so lucky to meet Autumn and Hazen when we did and for them to pass on our adventure and I just truly believed at that moment that all of the times someone has ever said to me ‘it is written in the stars’and I had disregarded that comment…that one moment in time had come back to bite me on the ass and say I TOLD YOU SO!

I suddenly believe in fate and that (Simon from Montreal you will love this!) there are no coincidences and that as a person you must radiate an energy that attracts like minded souls or how on Earth would we have ever have come to meet this incredible family and all of the other great people we have met so far and have yet to meet on our onward journey?!?!

We were just overwhelmed with gratitude, happiness and those pesky nerves!!

We were to head down to Neck Point beach at 7pm to meet with Sewit so he could explain the ceremony to us and so that we could meet some of Clark and Angies friends that were attending the ceremony. Also the press were going to be there so we needed to see to them. 

Once we had gotten over the initial shock and had been handed a glass of wine (for my nerves of course) I looked around and noticed the most stunning Dahlia’s all around the house, scattered in bunches throwing their incredible colour around the room. Angie had made me the cutest wedding posie with red, orange, yellow and fabulous deep maroon dahlias with miniature ivy flowing from it and Alex had his sunset coloured buttonhole pinned on in a flash.

Within no time it was 7pm and we set off in a row of cars to the beach, we were hoping to time the ceremony for sunset. I was a nervous wreck as per usual and we just had no idea what to expect. We arrived and met our guests, Hazens parents had come to join us on our special day as had several of Clark and Angies friends and quite a few people just out for a sunset stroll came and joined in too.

We ran around making introductions and then we saw Sewit and his family arrive. We made our excuses to the press who had us sat here and there and hogged us for a while fastening wires to us and telling us to spell our names and went to meet Sewit.

He explained to us that he would go through the ceremony in both his native tongue and then translate into English for us and that his daughter would be a part of the ceremony and he then proceeded to wrap us in brightly coloured blankets as a symbol of support and strength to carry in our lives.

Sewit then tied head scarves around our heads and explained that in their lives they are always told of compassion, love, honour, integrity and respect.

The sun was setting perfectly behind us as Sewit started to play his drum and sing in a deep and enchanting voice whilst his daughter Salish scattered feathers on the ground to bless our path and future together as one.

Once Sewit had finished his song we walked towards the sunset and faced him as he spoke from his heart the words he had chosen for our special and unusual ceremony. He explained that what he and his daughter had shared with us was a small part of their traditional life, values and understanding of the World around us.

We had prepared our own vows to read as we exchanged rings and I did well not to cry!

Alex went first and his vows were as follows in case you cant hear them properly on the video.

Lisa,

I have been told more than a few times in my life that if a couple can travel well together they will live well together.

We have travelled over 10000 miles to be here today, slept, eaten, driven and drunk virtually every second of the last 3 months in each other’s pockets.

It has been the happiest 3 months of my life and I cannot wait for the rest of the journey ahead.

Our life and journey so far has been a dream, full of adventure and excitement. You have made me the happiest man alive and in return I promise to keep you happy and safe for the rest of your life.

As a token of my promise and a symbol of our future together I give you this band so that you can hold it dear.

And then it was my turn! I could barely read what I had written for my hands shaking but I just about managed! (hence the video not showing me squeaking mine!)

Alex,

We stand here today, our toes in the Ocean, the sun setting in the sky and the stars upon which our fate is written bringing us the twinkling night!

All of these wonderful things represent my love for you, the never ending rhythm of the waves, the eternal setting of the sun and the perpetual shining of the stars.

Each grain of the sand we feel beneath our feet holds a seconds adventure for us and will take us so many places in our years together.

I promise to tell you how much I love you every day of my life.

I promise to make you laugh, hold your hand and kiss your lips every possible chance I get, and I promise above all to love you completely, utterly and truly with all of my heart!

I give you this ring as a symbol of our lives together,
this seamless band represents that I do not know where you end and I begin, it represents that we are, and will always be 2 people1life.

The sun had just dropped below the line of some rocks so it was just dusk as we walked and dipped our toes in the Ocean to complete the ceremony.

We ran around and hugged everyone and I was doing so well not crying until we tried to return the blankets to Sewit. He said they were a gift to us and that we could keep them and that was it, I was in floods of tears and hugging everyone again! I couldn’t believe how beautiful and touching the whole wedding had been and for us to be able to keep the blankets was just the icing on the cake. They will forever hold the memory of that special day.

Once we had all had a chat with the press we set off back in convoy to the Garnetts residence to eat, drink and be merry and to share our story with yet more new friends!

Sewit popped in with Salish to bring us yet another gift, the bowl that Salish had held the feathers in to scatter on our path at the wedding! It has a picture of a man and woman inside the rim of the bowl painted with the very same ochre we had seen at the paint pots in Yoho National Park. I was in tears again and everyone gathered around as we thanked Sewit and Salish for being such a special part of our very special day.

We still can’t believe that we have been lucky enough to have met so many wonderful people we now call our (adopted-whether you like it or not Garnetts!!) family and friends! Again the generosity and kindness of strangers has astonished us and made us feel so welcome in Canada and in Nanaimo especially!

comments

  1. Jacquie Kernick says:

    I was hoping you were able to keep the blankets….so pleased you have been gifted these. I thought your account of this First Nations ceremony was wonderful to read about. The location on the beach with the sun setting and the lapping of the waves will have been perfect. Can you photograph the special bowl you were gifted? It sounds so lovely.

    Your vows to one another are chock-full of meaning for you both….so happy that B.C. folks (and especially the people you met in Nanaimo) were so welcoming and willing to make this special memory for you both.

    Your photos are wonderful too….felt like I was there myself 🙂

  2. Jacquie Kernick says:

    And….just to add…..I hadn’t watched the video before posting my comment….the drum and the accompanying melody played and sung by Sewit are spine-tingling! Loved this video too 🙂

  3. Peter Joyes says:

    Wonderful! Your unfolding description of the heartfelt ceremony brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this story. I needed to hear what is possible.

  4. Wow guys….that blog is amazing. What an experience it must have been for you both. The video is fantastic!!

    All the best
    Eliot

  5. Calisha says:

    I love each any every photo in this blog. These short pictures and videos make this blog different from other blogs! Any way thanks for this inspirational post…

  6. Barbara Tieman says:

    I just love this blog, ( like the first entry – I hope you get to keep the blankets) great minds……..what can I say. This was just beautiful – the vows were perfect, you two were just beautiful…what more can I say Bar b

  7. Mari Scott says:

    I lived in Nanaimo for 16 years and now live in Edmonton and I stumbled onto your site and I love you guys already. My husband is a native Yorkshireman and my sister happens to be friends with Angie and Clark… Unbelieveable… I just feel that things happen for a reason and there’s a reason that I stumbled onto your site! Until we meet again!

    1. Lisa & Alex says:

      It sure is a small world! We loved the national parks up in Edmonton and are 100% sure we will return to Canada.. Besides Clark, Angie and family are our adopted Canadian Family! 🙂 xxx

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