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  • Writer's pictureKristina McDonald

5 Ways to Involve Your Guests in Your Wedding Ceremony

Your ceremony is (in my – probably biased – opinion!) the most important part of your wedding day, and the event that kicks off the rest of the celebrations. It should be memorable; after all, it is the reason for the day! Your guests will have been to weddings before, but they might not have been to a humanist wedding.

When my husband and I got married, nobody (including us) had ever been to one. Some of our guests were a bit nervous, and had no idea what to expect. We were confident that our celebrant would make everyone feel comfortable, and thanks to her, our guests said our ceremony was the best they’d ever been to!

There are lots of ways to encourage guest involvement in your wedding ceremony. Flash mobs, audience participation readings, singing songs, even dancing down the aisle! Here are five of my favourite rituals that can give your guests a meaningful role in your wedding ceremony.

1. Warming the rings

Ring warming is a where the couple’s wedding rings are passed around the guests at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. This can happen as the celebrant is welcoming everyone, or during a piece of music or a reading. Have your best man or head bridesmaid keep an eye on the rings as they pass around the guests, to make sure everyone gets a chance to warm them, and also to get them back to you in time for your vows!

The idea is for guests to “warm up” the rings by offering their hopes, wishes and positive vibes for the couple. Since wedding rings are the symbolic representation of a marriage, this is a powerful and emotive part of the ceremony. It can also be a compromise for religious guests, who can choose to say a prayer while holding the rings.

Ring warming is a lovely way for your guests to wish you well as you begin married life.

2. Tree-planting ceremony

Tree planting is a great way to get guests involved during an outdoor wedding. It’s a great ritual for casual ceremonies, or eco-minded couples, and guests can get their hands dirty, working together to create a beautiful symbol of your marriage. Just make sure to have hand wipes ready for soily fingers!

3. Wedding wands

An alternative to the traditional rice throwing, wedding wands are a visually stunning option for your guests to wish you well as you walk down the aisle. You can buy them online or make them yourself! Attach little bells as a nod to the traditional wedding bell, and guests can create a lovely ringing chorus as they wave them. They’re great for group photos, too, especially if your ribbon colours match your wedding theme!

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4. Oathing Stone

The oathing stone is an ancient Scottish tradition, whereby the couple getting married would speak their vows, or “oaths”, while holding a rock or stone. You can change up the traditional ritual by including your guests. One option is a “stone warming” ritual, where the oathing stone is passed around the guests at the beginning of the ceremony, allowing them to offer wishes or positive vibes as they hold it. Alternatively, you could supply each guest with a stone, or ask them to bring their own, and have them hold it as you speak your vows, before bringing all the stones together in a bowl or vase, creating a beautiful display of well-wishes.

5. Words of Wisdom

This is really easy to include in your ceremony. Cards (or ribbons, leaves, bits of cloth – you can use your imagination!) are passed around the guests during the ceremony, and each person can write a little message; this can be advice, a wish, or a word of wisdom from parents or long-married couples. You can incorporate these into a wishing tree, a decorative bowl or vase, or, if you’re having a memory box as a part of your ceremony, include your guests in the promise of a future reminiscence! Each guest can place their wish or advice in the box by hand before you close it. Whether included in a memory box or not, it’s lovely to read your guests’ hopes and advice for your marriage.

For many weddings that stick to the “traditional”, the role of your guests is limited. They show up, maybe sing a few hymns, and then head on out to the reception afterwards. With a humanist wedding, you get to shake things up a bit! If you want your guests to get involved in your ceremony, hopefully these ideas have inspired you!

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