We all have such wonderful people in our lives – but when we get married, not everyone wants to have a bridal party – or maybe you only want to have a small bridal party, but would like to help some other family members or friends involved with the ceremony as well.

I’ve had some very clever and smart brides lately with some great ideas to get MORE people involved in your wedding ceremony!  Here are some of my favorites:

Readers. This is more on the traditional side, but can be a great way to include a special friend or family member who is not part of the bridal party.  Why not let them choose the reading they’d like to use?  There are a ton of fabulous places to find fun and personal readings to include in your ceremony – you could even choose a few, and just give your reader an option.

Guest Vows. This is one of my favorite rituals.  Immediately after the couple does their “I do’s” or their vows, I’ll address everyone gathered directly, and ask them to pledge their own love and support for the bride and groom in their marriage.  The wording is usually slightly different than the traditional vows:

Today, you have come here not simply to witness our couple”s union, but to take part in it.  Each of you represents not only yourself, but all of the people who have and will touch the lives of our bride and groom. Your support has helped their relationship to flourish, and the joy that you all bring into the couple’s lives keeps them going.  Our bride and groom have asked all present to take vows as well, to pledge your support and love for them as they embark upon this new path together.  After I have spoken these vows, please answer with “We will.”

Everyone gathered here today, before you stand two people who love you very much. Do you promise to encourage and inspire their dreams? To accept them not only as individuals, but as a couple? To be their friends and their support, today and everyday to follow?

And then they all answer with a resounding “WE WILL!”

Wishing Stones. When the guests arrived, they are greeted with a groomsmen or usher holding a small basket of pebbles or stones (an alternative would be to have the basket near the programs, with a small sign of explanation).  Each guests takes a stone, and holds it during the wedding ceremony.  Towards the end of the ceremony, I ask the guests to imbue the stones with all of their love, well wishes, and blessings for the couple, as they embark on their new life together.  At the end, the stones are collected, and presented to the bride and groom.

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(source)

Many of my couples who choose to use this ceremony go on to use the stones in their yards of their first homes, or simply place them in a bowl in a special place in their house.  A wonderful reminder of the love of your friends and family on your wedding day!

In a beach vow renewal I am doing this summer, we are going to throw the stones in the water, immediately following the ceremony – a sweet way for everyone to make a wish for the couple.

Ring Warming. I’m often hesitant to mention this, because passing wedding rings around a large group of people stresses me out – but there are ways to include this ritual that let you have a bit more control. This ritual involves passing the rings around to all of your guests, so they can “warm” them between their palms, and bless them with their love and well wishes.

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Stephanie & Gordon's rings, before the ceremony

My suggestion is to designate a bridal party member as the “ring person” at the beginning – they can stand at the end of the aisle, as your guests enter, and ask them to take a moment to hold the ring and imbue it with happy love thoughts (and keep a close eye on them!).  You could also just pass the ring along your bridal party, or the front row of your parents (tie them both together with a bit of ribbon, so they’re more substantial and less likely to get dropped!)

Include Them In Rituals. Are you including a wine ceremony, handfasting, sand ceremony, or another unity ritual?  Why not invite a special friend or family member up to pour and present the wine, wrap the cord, or read the introduction to the sand ceremony?

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For Jess & Kenny's wedding, Jess' childhood best friend and Kenny's cousin presented their rings.

If you don’t have a six year old boy to spare, consider asking a close friend who is not in the bridal party to present your wedding rings – they don’t have to be part of the processional, but they get invited up, you can give them a big hug, and they’ll present the rings to you during the ring ceremony.

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