Did You Know: The ‘Apache Wedding Prayer’

Many brides and grooms, when considering ways to add some punch to a wedding ceremony, come across what is usually called the Apache wedding prayer or Native American wedding prayer. There are quite a few different versions, but goes a little something like this:

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead
and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion,
and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

The author of the Apache wedding prayer is usually unstated or simply listed as ‘source unknown,’ but apparently it’s not that difficult to find out who wrote it. According to Wikipedia, the Apache wedding prayer:

…was written for the 1950 Western novel Blood Brother by Elliott Arnold. The blessing entered popular consciousness when it made its way into the film adaptation of the novel Broken Arrow, scripted by Albert Maltz, and has no known connection to the traditions of the Apache or any other Native American group. The Economist, citing “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding” by Rebecca Mead, has characterized it as “‘traditionalesque’, commerce disguised as tradition”. There have since been several different additions and alterations to the poem.

The Apache wedding prayer as it is usually recited today is somewhat different from the prayer in Blood Brother and Broken Arrow, and it’s not clear exactly when the prayer made its way into the public nuptial consciousness (and thereafter onto posters and plaques and greeting cards). What is known is that it definitely wasn’t adapted by Henry Wadworth Longfellow, as some web sites claim, since he died something like 65 years before Blood Brother was published.

So if you’ve been eyeing the Apache wedding prayer for inclusion in your wedding ceremony, you may be wondering if you should nix the idea. I say not if you love it! After all, plenty of couples include quotes and rituals from movies and books in their wedding ceremonies, and just because something doesn’t pre-date history doesn’t make it any less valuable.

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