One of the best things about having an intimate wedding is the ability to interact and connect with each of your guests personally in a way that’s simply not possible with a larger guest list. While most of this interaction happens during the reception, why not take things one step further and include your family and friends in your ceremony? Here are seven ways to do just that.
1. Lead Them in a Musical Procession
What better way to get everyone in a celebratory mood than with a musical procession? Pick out an upbeat song, choose someone to lead the procession that has a good amount of musical talent, then give each guest an instrument and get ready to make some joyful noise!
2. Have Guests Help Write Part of the Ceremony
Writing your own ceremony is a wonderful way to personalize your wedding and having your guests contribute makes it even more special. The best way to do this is with the marriage address portion of the ceremony. Before the big day arrives, have guests send their thoughts, wishes, and advice for the bride and groom to be incorporated into the address. While you can compile their answers and write this portion yourselves, we think it’s nice to keep it a surprise for the wedding day; in which case, ask a friend or bridesmaid to do it for you.
3. Recite Guest Vows
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to make a marriage. It’s with the support of your friends and family that you will weather the difficult times in your relationship and guest vows are a wonderful way to honor that community. If you are having a very small wedding you can have each guest stand up and recite one promise to the bride and/or groom; or, if your guest list is longer, you can do a group vow where the officiant asks the guests “Do all of you promise to support this couple, offering your love, encouragement, guidance, and compassion?”, to which they will reply “We do”.
4. Form a Prayer Circle
While a prayer circle is an obvious fit for a religious ceremony, it can also have a place in a secular one as it can simply involve guests standing around the couple holding hands as a symbol of the community and support surrounding them as they enter into marriage.
5. Assign Each Guest a Special Role
If you’re having a really small wedding, try and give each of your guests a role to play; from officiating to reading to performing a song, your guests will feel honored to be included.
6. Include Them in the Unity Candle Ceremony
Normally in a unity candle ceremony, the bride and groom each take their own candles and use them to light a single unity candle; in the reverse unity candle ceremony, each guest lights their own candle from the unity candle. It’s a lovely way to unite the bride and groom with their family and friends and it looks beautiful too.
7. Let Them in on a Surprise
Nothing makes people feel more included than to be let in on a surprise! Whether it’s a surprise sing-along of the groom’s favorite song or a reading/performance by an unexpected guest, getting your family and friends involved in the planning or the execution will make it a truly special moment for everyone.
8. Wishing Stones
Have each guest hold a stone during the wedding vows and reflect on their own well wishes for you as a couple. After the ceremony, have someone collect the stones. Display the stones in your home as a lovely remembrance of your special day.
Photo one: jrclubb.com; Photo two: kellyhornberger.com; Photo three: brides.com; Photo four: uschiandkay.com; Photo five: Clare Norton Photography