Your wedding is a time to celebrate your love together with those who are special to you. But how do you include family and friends in the ceremony?
You might be seeking a way to honour your heritage and family traditions, to acknowledge specific loved ones, or merge the new family that is formed by your marriage.
The trick is to do this in a way that doesn’t make anyone feel pressured or excluded, and that is true to the spirit of your ceremony.
The ideal, in fact, is to make everyone feel included and welcomed.
It is always a privilege for me to collaborate with a couple to create a meaningful ceremony that acknowledges their special friends and family.
From symbolism to a friend sharing the ceremony with your celebrant , here are 9 ways to include loved ones in your ceremony.
1. Using symbolism
Have something that represents the family or a particular member on your person. The notion of “something old, something new’ is associated with weddings. Perhaps one party carries a grandmother’s handkerchief or wears a ring from a grandfather. Perhaps a favourite aunties’ table cloth forms the cover of the marriage canopy or the arch is adorned with flowers from a family garden ?
2. Unique walks down the aisle
Some brides use their entry to include the whole family, giving everyone a place of honor. Recently in-laws walked the bride to one point down the aisle and the uncles brought her the rest of the way.
3. Having loved ones with you
It is traditional to have the bridal party standing near the wedding couple. But you can choose who stands with you. In some cultures parents are chosen , honouring the families’ traditions. Such is the case with Hindu weddings and Jewish weddings I recently celebrated.
4. Involving a creative loved one
If you have a talented relative who is willing, why not include a personalized musical or original poetry offering ? At a recent wedding the bride’s father did not speak English, however he wrote a beautiful poem which he read in his native language. The best man then read an English translation .There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
5. Rituals that merge the families
There are many lovely rituals that can include the family- especially when there are mixed cultures involved. For example, a ‘sand ceremony’. This includes parents or children of the bride and groom in a creative way to symbolically blend families together. Coloured sand is poured into a container by the couple and then by each of the children of the blended family, representing the new family formed on their wedding day. A unity bouquet, when both mothers bring a small bunch of flowers and tie them together , symbolizes the blending of families.
6. Inviting loved ones to offer readings and blessings
Your marriage celebrant can read poems, readings and blessings you select, but it is also nice to ask a loved one to participate. Typically, a wedding will have one or two readings. You can select readings you love and then consider who you might like to read them, or you can ask people you love and trust to select or write a reading.
7. Honouring those no longer with us
There are many sensitive ways to do this. Your celebrant can mention them in the ceremony as people important in your life. You may also like to display a photo collage
8. Ring blessing
If you are exchanging rings , engage family and friends by passing the rings around. Guests then give a silent personal blessing for you both before you exchange the rings.
9. Involve a friend to work in tandem with your celebrant
Recently a couple wanted their good friend to play an active part in the celebration, telling stories of the couple during the ceremony. I worked in tandem with him and it added a fun and personal element to the ceremony.
There are more great ideas for your wedding ceremony here. You are also most welcome to discuss your wedding with me at firstname.lastname@example.org