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A Vibrant Tradition: A Walk Through the Choctaw Wedding Aesthetic


There are 39 recognized Indian tribes in Oklahoma, each with their own version of wedding ceremonies incorporating different traditions and garments involved. For this editorial, we wanted to showcase a modern take on the traditional Choctaw wedding aesthetic by incorporating traditional Choctaw dresses and jewelry, while also bringing in trendy decor pieces, lush florals and a tasteful invitation suite. Keep reading to learn all about the Choctaw wedding aesthetic, as we walk you through the vibrant tradition of their ceremonies and garments, as well as all of the vendors that brought this modern take to life!

Photos // Katie Hadley Photography

Choctaw dresses consist of vibrant colored dresses and shirts – ribbons that drape down the back, handsewn diamond embroidery, ruffles, an apron for the women and particular style lines. Choctaws have a deep connection and respect for the earth and the animals, which is why certain characteristics were incorporated in the traditional wear. The different colored ribbons on both the men and women represent different elements of the earth. The diamonds represent reverence for diamondback rattlesnakes. The ruffles represent the great Chiefs. The apron was originally for functionality. The overall style of a Choctaw dress was influenced by a French peasant look dating back to the 1800s.

A Choctaw inspired wedding should be an expression and mutual respect of the culture and family involved. In a traditional Choctaw wedding ceremony, the blanket draped over the couple’s shoulders signifies unity of the two families.

The Wedding Dance is a rhythmic dance set to a chant with simple footwork and movement. The set up for the dance is similar to the design of a clock face. The couple is located in the center of the “numbers” standing face-to-face with pinkies locked, symbolizing the eagle’s clutching talons. Eagles were believed to mate for life, and the culture aspires to reflect the eagles’ bond in their own marriages. Family and friends partner up and circle the couple. When the chant begins, members move in counterclockwise motion around the couple, representing the imperfection of human beings and marriage. During the chant, the chanter will cue the dancers to lift their locked pinkies and switch places.

Choctaw jewelry is a contemporary expression of the artist from the colors to the style and design of the pieces. The jewelry chosen for the shoot was handcrafted by members of the family. The shawls are considered accessory to the ensemble, and the design can vary with a multitude of colors and embroidery. The women that made the shawls, dress and shirt seen here are the small remainder of Choctaw designers left in Oklahoma. Newly made shawls are becoming alarmingly few and far between; however, the craft Native American jewelry making is continuing to grow.

a vibrant tradition choctaw wedding

Stag & Doe Salon’s goal was to create an intricate yet relaxed bridal style to complement our model’s natural hair, accompanied by Nadja Theodore MUA’s “perfect blushed look” of a pinky-nude eyeshadow, a pop of rose gold on her lids and smoked out wing liner, paired with a nude lip.

Choctaws have a deep connection and respect for the earth and the animals. Many signifying design elements are incorporated in the traditional wear and marriage ceremonies. Each part of the ceremony not only is a representation of the bond between spouses and families but also a bond to Mother Earth. The Letter Box incorporated those values into their stunning invitation suite in the most tasteful way by featuring natural, earthy tones and design elements that fit into this shoot and aesthetic seamlessly.

“For the florals, I tried to use mostly things grown here in Oklahoma. I even added a few stems from the native range of [venue] Sparrow Beginnings.” – Robyn’s Flower Garden

The breathtaking mermaid-style gown from Ellis Bridal with stunning intricate beaded details was the perfect choice for a non-traditional look for this shoot, while fitting into the aesthetic and overall goal in the most gorgeous way. Decor from Runaway Belle Vintage Rentals tied everything together, from the lounge furniture to the tables to the pillows, and we can’t seem to take our eyes off of this scene.

Video // Pulley Productions

Thank you to Katie Hadley Photography for capturing our modern take on the traditional Choctaw wedding aesthetic! Also, a special thank you to our model, Beckah Boykin of the Choctaw Nation, for contributing her time and knowledge to this editorial.

Find this editorial and more in our new Spring/Summer 2021 issue of the Brides of Oklahoma! Order your copy here!

Other Local Vendors: Pulley Productions, Katie Hadley Photography, The Letter Box, Runaway Belle Vintage Rentals, Ellis Bridal, Stag & Doe Salon, Nadja Theodore MUA