10 Ways to Include Friends and Family in Your Wedding Ceremony

Getting married marks the start of your new family as a couple, but it also unites the moms, dads, siblings, friends, and other special people you’ve called family all your life. To honor your nearest and dearest and show appreciation for a lifetime of love and support, consider including close friends and relatives in your ceremony.

10 Ways to Include Friends and Family in Your Wedding Ceremony | Weddings Illustrated


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Whether you prefer to keep things simple with a sand ceremony that involves only your parents, or assemble a time capsule that requires all of your guests’ participation, there are options aplenty when it comes to getting your friends and family involved in your big day. Here are a few of our favorites.

Guest Vows: Ask everyone in attendance to declare their love and support for you as a couple.

Ceremony Circle: As part of the wedding procession, have all of your guests—or simply your family members and attendants—place flowers, seashells, stones, or other symbolic objects in a circle to form the altar where you’ll be married.

Tree Planting Ceremony: Together with your parents or other special guests, plant a small sapling in a pot and take turns watering it to symbolize your growing family.

Ring Blessing: Place your rings in a small box or a cloth pouch, then have them passed hand-to-hand among your immediate family, your attendants, or even all of your guests to bestow the rings with blessings or good wishes for you.

Unity Candle: Representatives from each of your two families light a candle. As a couple, use the two lit candles to light a third, representing the union of both families.

Thai Water Ceremony: In this Southeast Asian ritual, the couple kneels over a bench and cups their hands over a silver bowl filled with flowers, which represent fertility. All wedding guests who are older than the couple take turns approaching them and, using a conch shell, pouring water over the couple’s hands, offering wishes of good luck. (Or, tailor this option by researching wedding rituals that honor your family’s particular heritage.)

Story Sharing: Invite a handful of friends and family members to share short but meaningful memories of you together as a couple to add a sweet, sentimental, or even humorous touch to your ceremony.

Time Capsule: Together with your friends and family, fill a pretty box with items such an extra wedding invitation, a newspaper from your wedding day, photographs, love letters to each other, and letters from your guests containing everything from well wishes to advice (you can pass around a basket or box during the ceremony for guests to drop their notes into). Open it on your first, fifth, or even tenth anniversary.

Sand Ceremony: Take turns with your parents, grandparents, or other special relatives pouring layers of colored sand into a glass jar or vase. It will symbolize unity and make for a special piece of art to display in your home.

Handfasting: This longtime favorite wedding ritual involves binding the couple’s hands together during the ceremony, often with ribbons or a soft cord. Make it modern and special by asking friends or family to help create the binding ribbons—anything from old fraternity or sorority tee shirts to a favorite childhood blanket could be cut into strips and used to tie your hands together.

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