How to incorporate culture and heritage into your wedding

How to incorporate culture and heritage into your wedding
January 25, 2021

Your wedding is likely to be the most complex and important party you will ever put together. From the venue to the food, you would like to make your wedding the most perfect and memorable event you can. By incorporating culture and heritage into your wedding you can make it all the more memorable.

Here we will take a deep dive into how to incorporate culture and heritage into your wedding, specifically the Indigenous culture here in Alberta, Canada. We will examine authentic ways to bring Indigenous culture to the wedding, how to go about planning it, and why the Métis culture can make your wedding day perfect and one you shall never forget. So let’s get started and see how to create a perfect cultural wedding.

An authentic way to bring Indigenous culture to your Alberta wedding

Indigenous culture has a large role in the history of this land and Canada. When incorporating another culture and heritage into your wedding it is important to do it in an authentic and respectful way. Here are four ways how you can bring Indigenous culture to your wedding here in Alberta, Canada:

1. Host your wedding at an Indigenous venue

To truly bring authenticity to your wedding as well as supporting the local Indigenous community, consider hosting your wedding at an Indigenous venue. Many cultural centres are in Indigenous land and run by Indigenous people who are eager to bring their unique history, traditions, art, and culture to your wedding.

2. Have Indigenous cuisine in the menu

Food is a very important part of a wedding ceremony, and it can also communicate much about a culture’s traditions and history. Consider having a fully Indigenous meal or a fusion of cuisine at your wedding. Look for a venue that also offers catering, or can refer you to a chef that specializes in Indigenous cuisine.

3. Give a land acknowledge to start off the wedding 

Take the time during your ceremony to pause and reflect on the land’s relationship with the First Peoples in Canada which include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This is a gesture of reconciliation, respect, and goodwill.

4. Traditional Indigenous activities

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada has shown that people have been increasingly seeking out Indigenous experiences to learn more about the cultures and traditions of the Indigenous people in Canada. Consider hiring a local storyteller to share their stories, or incorporate traditional arts and crafts into your wedding invitations or gifts.

Make use of the resources provided by various Indigenous cultural centres to help make your wedding dream come true. It can pay to visit them ahead of time if they have daily tours to get an idea of what they can offer. Involve them in your plans when organizing your cultural wedding.

Seven steps to planning the perfect Indigenous cultural wedding

Once you have decided on bringing in indigenous culture to your wedding its time to start planning. This can certainly be a daunting task, and how can you make sure you have a perfect wedding filled with Indigenous culture? Here we look at seven steps for making sure you can plan the perfect Indigenous cultural wedding:

wedding day

1. Determine your budget

Critical to any wedding plan is how much money you can realistically afford to spend. Ensure that you take the time to create a budget and allocate money into the various categories that will be required. Here are some of the major expenses involved in a wedding:

    • Venue rental
    • Catering
    • Photography
    • Wedding gowns and other attire

It is important to allocate money into categories you find important so you do not overspend. This leads us to the next step in planning your wedding, which is to identify what is important to you and your family.

2. List your priorities

Unfortunately, being under a budget will mean you cannot have everything. List out what parts of your wedding are most important to you and how much you are willing to spend for it. If you are looking for a truly authentic experience the venue will likely be the most important item in your wedding plan.

Finding an Indigenous venue that also offers services such as catering can greatly simplify the work leading up to your wedding. Here in Alberta, venues such as the Cultural Gathering Centre at Métis Crossing can offer an Indigenous venue, catering, and experience all in one, greatly simplifying planning and coordination between various parties.

3. Find a cultural venue

In order to incorporate Indigenous culture and heritage into your wedding, nothing could be more important than the venue that you choose. When researching venues, look for and ask about the following:

  • Capacity
  • Availability
  • Privacy
  • Indoor / Outdoor spaces
  • Services (catering, audio/visual)
  • Parking & Accommodation

Inquire if the venue has people that can work with you to help add their Indigenous culture and heritage into your wedding, particularly if you or your partner are not Indigenous. You want a location that can help you to make sure the cultural elements you include are both authentic and respectful.

4. Identify what cultural elements to include

There are many elements to every culture. When incorporating cultural elements into your wedding it is important to keep them authentic and respectful. Work with the people in your venue of choice to identify what elements you want to be included in your wedding. They will be able to guide you through traditional foods, art, decor, and activities.

Also, consider taking the time to pause and reflect on the land’s relationship with the First Peoples in Canada. Include a land acknowledgement to show reconciliation, respect, and goodwill. Involve an Elder who can guide you with wording and pronunciation.

5. Hire your photographer and other artists

One thing that you will take with you from your wedding will be photos. These can form a critical part of the memories and stories you will have of your wedding for your friends and family. Photographers, as well as other artists such as musicians, can be booked months in advance, so make sure you book them as soon as you have a date set and not leave it to the last minute.

6. Invite your guests

No wedding would be complete without your friends and family present as you give your vows. Use the wedding invitation to tell your guests what the theme of the wedding will be through artwork and design that highlights the culture and heritage you are incorporating into your wedding.

7. The final check

All is set, planned, and purchased. You have everything laid out and now you will need to do a final check to make sure everything will go smoothly. Contact your venues, caterers, artists and confirm that everything is ready so that on your wedding day all you will need to do is breath, relax, and have a perfect day you can remember forever.

Why the Métis culture is perfect for your big day

The Métis can bring a unique history, culture, and heritage to your wedding day. Here in Alberta, the new Cultural Gathering Centre located at Métis crossing offers a fantastic venue for such an event. Its indoor and outdoor spaces will provide a strong cultural and spiritual environment with ties to the land, and its people will bring the benefits of Métis culture to you day. Here we shall take a brief look at the history of the Métis and explore its culture and what it can bring to your wedding day.

Métis history

The Métis are descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada and have grown into a new and distinct Indigenous people. Along with First Nations and Inuit, the Métis are one of three distinct Indigenous Peoples of Canada recognized by the 1982 Constitution Act with a population of over 450,000 in Canada

Well before Alberta was a province, many Métis communities were well established in many areas of Western Canada. The Métis started to organize themselves politically starting in 1928. Alberta has the largest Métis population in the country with over 114,000 Métis People living in the province.

The Métis have a rich culture and heritage

There is much that Métis culture can bring to your wedding. From signature experiences to traditional workshops, to cuisine each can be incorporated into your wedding day.

Guests can be involved in guided, cultural, interpretive experiences that share the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people. Many of our experiences are seasonal, so whether you want your wedding in the warmth of summer, or during the beautiful winters of Alberta, Métis Crossing has much to offer.

Our traditional workshops include arts and crafts like beading or finger weaving as well as the traditional Métis Capote - a beautiful coat made from a wool blanket that is a staple of Métis winter survival.

The approach to Métis cuisine has been a fusion from both European and First Nations traditions. As traditional hunters, buffalo has been the primary food source in addition to moose, elk, prairie bush rabbits, and wild birds. Along with wild berries, wild plants, and the traditional bannock, our chef and his Indigenous culinary team will create unforgettable meals for your wedding day.

Métis Crossing & its Cultural Gathering Certre

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and is the premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Sitting on 512 acres of land, including river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to the region in the late 1800s, the crossing is designed to engage and excite visitors through an exploration of Métis cultural experiences.

The new Cultural Gathering Centre designed by Métis Architect Tiffany Shaw-Collinge was recently completed in 2020 utilizing traditional craftsmanship and modern materials. Combining the functionality of a contemporary building and the architecture characteristic of the river lot homes of the fur trade era, it is a year-round destination focused on Métis story and culture. 

The current facilities at Métis Crossing make it an ideal venue for all types of private events looking to showcase Métis culture and heritage. We are continually growing, with future plans in place for Métis Crossing to include a lodge, traditional gardens, and various demonstrations to allow visitors to explore and experience Métis culture.

As part of your wedding planning, come and spend a day at Métis Crossing to learn about our culture and how we can help bring it to your special day. Métis Crossing strives to represent and share elements of Métis culture, pride of culture and respect (with self-identification), family reconnection and reconciliation, sacredness of place, empathy, and acknowledgement. Contact us to speak with a representative about your future wedding or event plans.