How to include a land acknowledgement in your wedding ceremony

I am no expert at this, I'll be honest, it was never on my radar to include a land acknowledgement in the wedding industry. And that is one of the reasons I love being a wedding photographer. The world, and it's beauty opens up the many facets of life that we do not get to experience in our cozy corner. So, we had the very unique and emotional experience of witnessing one of our couples include a land acknowledgment in their ceremony. This experience was truly humbling. In this day and age, we've become acutely aware of the mistreatment of the indigenous tribes in our country here in Canada, as well as the disrespect & degradation of their cherished land. So, how do we fit this into our future? Our wedding ceremonies? How do we honour something that is so much bigger than ourselves? Well, we've enlisted this very special couple that had the resounding effort to include and honour these ancient tribes and their land during their vows. This land acknowledgement was apart of the emotional fabric that tied the entire ceremony together. Becca & Cole wed on the sandy beach across from their cherished family cottage. The land is special to them, full of memories and a promising future.

With that being said, here are some words from Becca & Cole, and how to include a land acknowledgement in your wedding too.

Read below.

Becca & Cole’s Ceremony Land Acknowledgement

When we began planning our ceremony together, we had lots of ideas of how we

wanted to design it so that it felt inclusive, grounded, and thoughtful. It was

important for us that it felt like a representation of both of our families, but also,

more importantly, we wanted it to be a reflection of our own values.

As settlers on this land, Cole and I are always conscious that we benefit from

colonialism in all of the land that we interact with, however, this truth is entirely

impossible to ignore on Sauble Beach. As sovereign Saugeen territory, and not

treaty land the way that most of Ontario is, this land has always belonged to the

Saugeen Nation. My great grandfather signed a lease with a Saugeen family, to

whom we have paid an annual lease to be able to maintain a cottage on their

land for almost a hundred years. We knew that getting married on this land and

inviting people to experience it meant that we needed to share more details for

our loved ones about where they are and why it matters.

One of the things that I saw while working in community development is that

there are many Indigenous people who find canned land acknowledgements to

be stale and repetitive, and therefore of very little value. I worked on a committee

at my organization to unpack and rebuild how we did land acknowledgements so

that they could bring more value as openings to gatherings. What I learned in this

process and from reading many works by Indigenous authors and activists is that

in order for land acknowledgments to bring value, they need to be 1) educational

and 2) disruptive. This means that they need to offer some new information, and

be written in a way that challenges people to think more and engage with the

realities of settled land. When Cole and I write land acknowledgements now, we

write them specifically for the circumstance, often researching ways to link the

topic of the gathering or writing to some sort of opportunity for education. For

example, at food related events, we have made a point to research and discuss

traditional foods of the land where we are gathered. It is a great starting point as

a writer of a land acknowledgement to reflect on how colonialism has influenced

the event you are gathering for, and can be the starting point for very important

learning for the author as well as the attendants.

In our wedding ceremony, as a celebration of our union as well as the union of

our families, it was clear that it was not merely the land that we were currently on

that we wanted to acknowledge, but the land that shaped us and lead us to that

moment. Since I am from Ontario, Cole is from BC, and we currently live in

Quebec, we wanted to acknowledge the land and the teachings that we have

benefitted from along the way. We were and still are immensely grateful for the

land, the stewardship and the teachings of many Indigenous people throughout

our lives, and it was important to us to ground ourselves and our guests in that

gratitude as we began the ceremony of our union.

If anyone wants to explore a bit more about the land where they are or learn from

some Indigenous teachers, here are some of my well-loved books and resources

as starting points:

Interactive map of territories & treaties:

Understanding more about treaties:


Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Embers by Richard Wagamese