15 Aug 2017
candid photography of a funny moment at a wedding

Ask The Expert: “We’re very shy couple. What can we do to calm our nerves during our ceremony?”

Robyn Pattison, known as The Wedding Pixie, is an award winning celebrant with endless energy and infectious enthusiasm. It is just fitting to ask Robyn about this question from our shy couple who is terrified of standing in front of their guests.

Relax! Yes – it’s not every day that you have to stand and speak in front of so many people, but you need to remember that they are there because they love you. They have come to support you – not to stare you down!

For nervous couples, I always suggest short vows. You have an entire lifetime to make – and keep – promises to each other, and the little everyday kindness certainly count, too. The vows you make in front of your guests are symbolic of all of those. You don’t have to say everything – and you certainly don’t have to memorise anything.

Hold hands! It helps – aren’t your each others strength when you need it?

I recommend that brides always keep hold of their flowers – right up until the vows. Having something in your hands is very comforting. If you get a touch of the shaky hand, they’ll be hidden behind your bouquet.

I prep every bride, every groom, every bridal party – everyone – before the ceremony. I ask that everyone arrives early, so that if there is any attack of the nerves, there’s plenty of time to calm down and be ready to go. Nerves accelerate when you know that everyone is waiting for you, too!


We also asked Robyn about writing vows. These days more and more couples want to make their vows personal, but writing is not everyone’s talent and they might not know how to start. Robyn, can you help couples write their own vows?

I help couples write their own vows all the time. Often couples send me what they want to say and I help turn them into vows to speak.

I think it’s important to remember that you made promises to each other yesterday – and you will make more tomorrow. You don’t have to get everything out in one go. They also don’t have to be really long.

On top of legal requirements, I suggest

2-4 lines of saying nice things to each other

2-4 lines of actual traditional promises

2-4 lines of those little things that are just “you”. Your private jokes – or the special things that are important just to you.

You don’t need to start every line with “I promise” and short sentences are much easier to speak than long ones.


How do you ensure that a ceremony is unique to a couple?

I do my homework – and I ask you to do some, too!

For your wedding ceremony to be believable – and honest – and connect with both the couple – and their guests, it needs to be meaningful to you. Nobody will feel anything if the language doesn’t feel right – or the words chosen don’t feel right.

Nobody wants to sit through a generic ceremony. They want to laugh. They want to cry. They want to feel something. If it feels like slot-name-here it probably is. At least 50 % of my ceremony is story telling. By telling stories – and keeping it real and honest – I can engage and entertain the guests, and use those stories to illustrate that this is not the beginning. A couple’s history is as important as their future – without it, how will they know that this is the right thing for them?


We’d love to hear about your favourite wedding locations. Do you have any?

I  have so many. I  love different locations for different reasons. Some are a visual feast – like The Grounds of Alexandria and Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Some – like The Palm House, in the Botanic Gardens – are great because no matter the weather, we’ll never have to worry about it – and I  know that the guests will be able to concentrate and be comfortable. Some have amazing views – like Captain Henry Waterhouse Reserve at Kirribilli.

Other beautiful places are not so great – although the views are beautiful – because the logistics are so hard. Balmoral Beach and Bradley’s Head are a nightmare to park. Some very popular parks have no trees for shade and no cover for bad weather – so we are in the hands of the weather gods – and that can prove to be a challenge!

We had the chance to work together at Lauren & Phil’s wedding..


And at Melissa & Thomas’ wedding at one of Sydney’s top locations, the Taronga Zoo.