They’ve come all this way and dressed their best – your fabulous friends and family all coming together at your wedding ceremony is one of the most special things about your big day.
So special in fact that couples are increasingly looking for ways to include their guests, not just key members of the bridal party but their whole audience.
A trend towards a less-formal, relaxed wedding vibe has contributed to this, as has the popularity of celebrant-led weddings; meaning couples are more aware that they can be creative in their ceremony, where fixed civil formats don’t enable them to. I also think couples are more aware of how much guests have contributed, yes probably in a gift but also in time and travelling to weddings, so it’s nice to add a special touch to the ceremony to involve them.
Here are a few ideas to include your guests in your ceremony…but just remember it’s your day, one or two types of audience participation is enough for one ceremony!
At the start of the ceremony rings are passed along the guests for them to ‘warm them’; hold them and make their wishes for the happy couple. One tip is to always do this with the rings tied onto a ring cushion or box, the last thing you want to hear as you make your vows is the bouncing of a ring across the room!
No, not dreary hymns you remember lip-syncing as a child! If you have one or two strong singers amongst your friends you can get a rousing rendition of a Tom Jones classic going!
There are lots of gorgeous readings that work well in ‘duet’ with your guests; you reading a line, and the guests reading a line back to you. This needs the words to be printed in an ‘order of ceremony’ to work, but these can be cheaply produced online with the running order provided by your celebrant.
Creating a keepsake for years to come, guests can be asked to contribute something (small and inexpensive!) to your ceremony. Pebbles inscribed with a wish for your future, ribbons to use in a hand-fasting, even a remnant of cloth to make into a quilt afterwards.
Free from the fixed format of a civil wedding you are free to do whatever you like with your vows. It’s increasingly popular to ask the guests if they promise something (and encourage a booming ‘WE DO!’) The promise is usually to support you through the years ahead as a married couple, but you could ask them anything! Do you promise to celebrate our union, both today and anytime we ask you in the future with 100% party-rocking moves?!’
Congratulations usually involve raising a glass of something, why not incorporate this into your wedding ceremony; offer a drink and ask your guests to toast the big moment? This works especially well if you’re doing something in your ceremony such as wine blending, drinking from a shared glass, or sealing a boxed wine as a time capsule. All of these are accompanied by lovely words, they’re fun, make a great photo, and can be incorporated in a celebrant led wedding.
I always think the exit of the newlyweds is one of the best parts of the ceremony; all the stress is over, it all went swimmingly and you’re arm in arm with your new spouse…it’s just so joyous. Guests have also relaxed so it’s a prime time to get them doing something as you leave. I can just never tire of confetti; it’s fun and the photos are always amazing.
If you want something different then think about what’s unique to you; if you have a special interest or hobby then try to incorporate it. Rings bicycle bells, walk under an arch of hockey sticks, get your guests stamping and clapping to ‘we will rock you!’ Only you know what would be personal and meaningful to you, the sky is the limit!
Photo credits: Sam Milling and Jo Bradbury
Regular blog contributor Karen Faulkner prides herself as the only Humanists UK accredited Wedding Celebrant based in Derbyshire, officiating ceremonies throughout the East Midlands.
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