It was absolutely incredible being Shana + Matt’s Evergreen Colorado Wedding Photographer. This lovely indoor Colorado church wedding took place on a beautiful summer day at The Church of Transfiguration in Evergreen Colorado. This was my first time documenting a wedding at this Rustic Colorado Wedding location, but it did not disappoint. The church had stunning natural light and was oak from floor to ceiling.
Shana + Matt actually had two wedding ceremonies, that’s right, two. Their first ceremony was a traditional church wedding ceremony, by a minister. Immediately following the indoor wedding the bride, groom and all of their guests headed outside of the church and in to a meadow across the way. The bride, Shana, is native american. The couple then took place in a traditional Cherokee Native American Wedding Ceremony.
More went in to this ceremony than what actually occurred on the wedding day, though. For 24 hours prior (that means at the rehearsal dinner, too!) Shana + Matt were not allowed to drink any alcohol. Also, after the wedding day they had to burn the blue blanket that you see them folding immediately following the ceremony.
Out of respect of the Cherokee culture we were asked that we not take any photographs of Matt and Shana after they entered the circle of trees. But, as you can see by the photos documented shortly before and after that moment took place it was such a culturally rich + incredible experience to be a part of.
Here are some details about the native american ceremony, as told by the bride:
“Cherokee Native American Ceremony:
- 6 choke cherry branches standing up in a circle(one for each element or “Creator”)
- Mother Sky
- Father Creator
- Each branch had a “Prayer” tied to it. The “Prayer” is a piece of cloth that both Matt and I prayed on before the ceremony. My uncle Nick used the pieces of cloth to tie tobacco and sage inside then fixed them to the branches.
- Burning sage: Sage is believed to bless and cleanse or “get the bad spirits out”. Any traditional Native American ceremony will typically have sage burning. My Uncle used a hawk wing to “sage” us during the ceremony. No animals were harmed to get the hawk wing. Lol The Hawk died of natural causes.
- We both had to enter from the East. I was wearing the blue blanket to signify the old life or the past. Matt took the blue blanket off and we were given the white quilt to wrap around us both. When we were in the quilt together, that signified our togetherness and the new life. The white quilt was my great grandmother’s quilt (she was 100% Cherokee), she made it by hand.
- Matt had the knife and stabbed it in the ground to show he would protect me and stand by me.
- The juice we drank and food we ate was basically something we would share together. The juice was choke cherry juice my grandma made (very sour) and the food was beef jerky with choke cherry juice on it.
- During the ceremony my great uncle would pray to each creator and point the peace pipe in the direction he was praying. Then at the end we both smoked the peace pipe. You can’t inhale because they believe the prayers are in the smoke.”
As an Evergreen Colorado Wedding Photographer you always have to roll with the punches that Colorado weather has to offer. The day started out super warm + sunny with just a few whispy white clouds in the sky, but smack dab in the middle of their outdoor white tent reception it started raining, then hailing, in AUGUST. It was so unexpected and definitely a great memory to think back on forever when looking back at the wedding day. It only lasted for a short amount of time and then it was back to warm Colorado weather again!
The Church of Transfiguration in Evergreen Colorado actually has a bell on-site and to end the day Matt + Shana got to ring the bell. I love that it actually lifted Matt off of the ground when he rang it. It was such a joy to document Matt + Shana’s wedding day!
To see images from their engagement session please click here!