Dakota Wedding

And now photos to add depth and context to my list poem....

An epic wedding all around, my dad says he's run out of superlatives to describe it.  He's right, photographs may very well tell it better.  140 guests traveled from NY, LA, England, Russia, Australia, South Africa and everywhere in between to meet in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota to celebrate Matthew and Rebecca's union.  The couple lives most of the time in Brooklyn, but they took a road trip in western South Dakota early in their relationship and fell more in love with each other and the land.  For most of the guests it was a whole new world and for those of us who already knew South Dakota, it was a re-affirmation of a very special place.  Held on the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, it was a DIY shindig of the first order with friends and family cooking, organizing, hauling tables and playing throughout.  Big thanks to the local help and orchestration from Casey Gilbertson, Chef John Gilbertson, Amelia Rose Barlow, Nicholas Adamski, Loretta Afraid of Bear, Tom Cooke, Dayton Hyde and everyone else.  Rebecca picked out the bison in a field with the Lakota elder who shot it; this bison affectionately named "Freedom" who fed the wedding party, gave them their wedding hide blanket, skull and heart. Matthew attended the four day Sundance over the summer solstice, the same Sundance circle where the wedding ceremony was then held.  There was a sweat lodge and an opportunity to ride horses on the Pine Ridge Reservation, horses descended from the mount of Crazy Horse - not your ordinary trail ride.  The ceremonial and spiritual elements made the celebration even more meaningful. As you will see below, the wedding was one of those events I want to relive over and over.  Photos courtesy of my brother Patrick Burns and cousin Katie Markley.  Thank you most of all to you, Matthew and Rebecca, for bringing such an amazing community together.  We all love you.

Liam leaping into Cascade Falls

Flower Girls Fiona and Mabel

Burns Men

Auntie Sarah

Mom with Liam and Finn

My little family

Sofiah, sister of the bride, dances to a drum to clear space for the ceremony

Sofiah teaches dance and healing arts at Bamboo Yoga Play in Costa Rica

Father of the bride

Matthew and Rebecca

The Men's Circle, including Christian and Xavier (sleeping)

A beaming bride

Amelia gives the water blessing to the West

And to the East

Sisters of the groom, Mary Ellen and me

Sister and Parents of the Bride

Kneeling on their buffalo hide, as Robert reads the poem An Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The bride in her vintage gown and veil

Mom sings Red River Valley, customized for the bride and groom

Smudging with Sage

Ceremonial Wasna, homemade by Matthew and Rebecca

Mabel, the flower girl goes strolling during the ceremony

The Sundance Circle with the Tree of Life in the center

Liam and Finn, the ring bearers walk the circle

Bringing the rings

Slipping on the rings


Mr. and Mrs. Burns walking out of the circle to ululations, before they run up the hill

The Tree of Life

Susan, mother of the groom and Amelia

Mobius Strip Wedding Rings

Christian and Xavier, my cowboys



Is that a Persian Cowboy?  Uncle Manny, Aunt Janet, Adam, Mary Ellen, Mabel & Andrew

Uncle Manny, Aunt Janet & Uncle Tom

Sassan, Judah & Jessica


Roni and Mary

Uncle Tom, Andrea & Adam

Patrick and Finn

Love like Pillars Series

Rowdy, Mary Ellen and Vanessa

Uncle Manny, Mom, Aunt Janet, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Rosie, Mary Ellen

Rebecca on the wedding buffalo hide blanket

Siblings and Xavier

Me and my little marshall (I found a SD Marshall badge for him to wear in Buffalo Gap)

Listening to toasts

My speech and gift of a champagne saber

Parents of the Groom, Parents of the Bride

Mary Ellen, Andrew and Miss Mabel

Prairie Signage

Still life with champagne saber, wildflower bouquet, buffalo hide and skull

Custom Hot Sauce, bottled by Matthew's Brooklyn Salsa Company as gifts for the guests

Tree of Life in the Sundance Circle


  1. LOVE LOVE THE POEM INVITATION! As always a beautiful blog entry Sarah Burns.

  2. Not surprised that you know that one, Julie! xo

  3. Looks like a fun and memorable event! So glad you got to see your family.

  4. I am sorry but I had to comment. I found your blog searching for some Sundance info....I absolutely love your ceremony pictures. So powerful and fun. thanks for sharing.