The Importance of Being Present

I believe that the most important element in any wedding ceremony is how mentally, emotionally, and spiritually present the couple is. Quite often, people allow excessive nervousness get in the way of their being truly present at their own ceremonies. I’m not talking about people not showing up or forgetting what to say. Rather, they are there physically but distracted by their own nervousness or by other details of the day.

How do you stay present at your wedding? Having conducted over 1,000 wedding ceremonies, I believe that the main obstacle to brides and grooms being present is dehydration – yes, dehydration.

Most people do not drink enough water (eight to ten 8-ounce glasses a day). During the week before their wedding, people often get nervous. Running on that nervous energy, they may forget to eat right and to drink enough water, and they may consume too much alcohol and caffeine, both of which can exacerbate or cause dehydration.

It takes a loss of only one percent of your body’s fluids for you to become dehydrated. This usually happens before you have any conscious sensation of thirst. Even very small shortages of water dramatically change and disrupt your biochemistry. STRESS, ALCOHOL, and CAFFEINE all influence the amount of water your body loses and the rate you lose it. Any of these factors, alone or in combination, can cause a small but critical shrinkage of your brain, which will impair neuromuscular coordination, concentration, and thinking.

Drinking enough water is vital. That is my number-one recommendation for how to stay present at your wedding ceremony. Drink eight to ten glasses a day, more if you are also drinking alcohol or caffeine.

As you approach your wedding, here are a few other suggestions for how to relieve stress and experience this wonderful moment fully:

– Consider getting a massage. It will relax you and allow you to be more present. There are many very good massage therapists in the Pittsburgh area, some of whom work through local hotels and spas.

– Don’t forget to breathe. When you are stressed, your breathing can become shallow, which can deprive the brain of oxygen. So breathe deep, and breathe long.

– Eat as you normally would. On your wedding day, if you find yourself not hungry, eat smaller portions, but eat. You need to keep your blood sugar up.

Beyond these suggestions, my advice to couples is this: don’t worry about the little things, and don’t worry about the big things either, since everything seems big on your wedding day. Hire competent people that you trust to do their jobs. Then let them do their jobs. Take the time to meet with people, and give them a chance to convey who they are, what they do, and how they conduct themselves. Then be confident that they will do a good job, including handling any snags. If you select people this way, they will be a welcome sight on your wedding day.

Generally, everyone involved with your wedding wants it to be a special occasion. For my part, I like to say that I conduct weddings rather than perform them. I am a conduit. I work with the people you hire – such as the photographer, the musicians, and the florist – to help orchestrate the ceremony so that you can simply be present for one another for the half hour or so that it takes to be married.