Being Present On Your Wedding Day

Written by Emma Hla
If you read one thing today, make it this.

A really rather beautiful and honest piece from Tamryn Lawrence, Celebrant behind Wild & Oak, about being present on your wedding day. You’ll hear it time and time again from those who know, the day will be over before you even know it. So how to take it all in, how to be present, how to make sure those memories last…?

Tamryn has the answers…

Notes from Wild & Oak

Why just be there when you could be present?

I’m so happy to be back with you today, Emma’s asked me to talk about something that I feel really very strongly about and that’s the difference between being there and being present. If there’s ever a day that demands all of you, it’s your wedding day. And if there’s one part of the whole day that you absorb totally and utterly, it’s your ceremony.

So, you might have guessed, I’m ridiculously passionate about wedding ceremonies. As an independent celebrant, I have the joy and privilege of writing and conducting meaningful, personal and truly individual ceremonies for couples. Celebrant-led ceremonies are the exact opposite of the standard script service with the standard content. They are, in fact, anything but standard because each and every one starts as a blank piece of paper that’s then filled with your stories, your emotions and your love. I’ve felt emotional at every ceremony I’ve conducted and I never want to lose that. The ceremony is the moment when you declare your feelings to everyone you love most in the world. It’s an unrepeatable moment, a memorable moment so why miss one second?

You see, it’s easy to be there but it can be much tougher to be present and the difference between the two states is, frankly, massive.

Let’s be honest, most of us spend a large portion of our time just being there. Now I’m not criticising that because there are definitely days and weeks where being in the right place at (vaguely) the right time is a massive achievement so here’s a virtual high-five to everyone who’s keeping it together. But you know what I mean right? You know that it’s easy to turn up to meetings, get togethers with friends and pretty much every part of our daily lives and simply zone out, even just a little bit. It’s easy to let our minds wander, to start thinking about the next thing on the list or worrying about what’s not been done. We all do it and don’t worry, I’m not going to take you to task because I’m no saint. I listen with one ear, reply with an ‘uh-huh’ when the question deserves so much more or convince myself that I’m actually great at multi-tasking when I’m not really.

I’ve also turned up to important moments, big milestone family events and I’ve been there but I’ve definitely not been present. Whether I’ve been too busy checking emails or taking photos, I’ve imagined that just being there is going to be enough.

And it’s not. It’s not enough. Nowhere near enough, especially for things that you’ll never get to do again. So, whilst I’m able to go to another school sports day or another family reunion and grab another chance to be present, if your ceremony passes you by, you’ll never ever get to do it again.

That once in a lifetime opportunity for creating memories, sharing love and celebrating your relationship will have passed you by and whatever you do from that point onwards, you’ll never be able to get it back again.

So I urge you with everything I have to be present during your wedding ceremony. Forget about the management and the organisation of your wedding day, forget about any family stresses or worries, forget the details, the ‘what ifs’ and all thoughts of what you’re going to be doing next. Focus on the now and don’t let go.

Look at your partner as you walk down the aisle, feel the flowers in your hand and the fabric of your dress against your skin. Smell the scent in the air, hear the music and the gasps of the guests when they see you for the first time. Experience the emotion and whether that makes you smile or makes you cry, it doesn’t matter because whatever the reaction, it’s honest, it’s yours and it’s entirely a result of being present.

During your ceremony, hold hands, speak to each other, listen to everything that’s said and let everything else slip from your mind because if it’s not part of the ceremony, it doesn’t matter. At that moment, nothing else matters one bit.

If you can, encourage your guests to be present during the ceremony because their engagement will really impact the atmosphere for everyone. Instead of viewing everything via a screen as guests try to capture the day on their phones, they can view it, for real and capture everything themselves. And I promise you that the human brain is a million times better at really recording what’s going on. When you walk down the aisle together, surely you’d prefer your guests to be looking at you rather than looking at their phones? You’ve invited them to share the day with you – share it, not watch it on a screen.

So that’s my plea for today or, in fact, for the day. We speak of ‘enjoying every minute’ when we talk about weddings but to do that, you absolutely have to be present.

Wholeheartedly, unreservedly and lovingly present.


Images Hannah Duffy Photography

Celebrant Wild & Oak

Venue GreenAcres Woodland Weddings Chiltern

Creative Direction & Styling  Coco Wedding Venues

Shoot Management & Planning Katrina Otter Weddings

Creative Consultancy Coco & Kat

Florist Verity & Thyme

Hair & Makeup Tori Harris

Bridal Dresses Cherry Williams London

Stationery & Signage Merrie & Bright

Furniture Hire Hire Love

Velvet VOWS book elmo PAPERSTORIES

Thank you to Love My Dress for featuring this shoot.

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