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You have been asked to help out your loved ones in a huge way - officiating on their big day. Want some tips on writing a wedding ceremony?

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How to write a wedding ceremony - getting started

How to write a wedding ceremony - finishing up

 

How to include your guests

You decide to invite someone to your wedding for all sorts of reasons. New friends, old friends, family friends, family – and then there are spouses and partners and even children. My oh my but that is a disparate group of people. How will they all get along? How do you encourage them to introduce themselves to one another, so that later in the night your dancefloor doesn’t look like a school disco?

Breaking the ice early is the key. The longer the freeze is allowed to set in, the harder it is to crack*. What will happen first in your day (probably)? The ceremony. So that’s the place to do it.

Audience participation frightens 9 out of 10 people**, so you need a celebrant who’ll prepare the ceremony very thoroughly and who can make groups feel comfortable. Fortunately, you’ve found In Your Own Words! And right now, I want to tell you about pairs of photographs.

In their initial brief, engaged couple Matt and Cassie had said they wanted their loved ones to be at the centre of their ceremony. They were already married in a registry office, so they reasoned that the very point of having a ceremony with a wider group was to have it be something to share. We talked through some more traditional ways to include guests – call and response, singing songs (both with tones changed and words rewritten) – but they wanted their guests to talk to each other.

So, I asked how many photographs they had of the two of them together. Loads, they said (what a question in this digital age). What if they print out around 40 of them (for their 80 guests), cut them in half, and slip them underneath the chair of every guest, the invitation being to find the person who has the other half of your photograph?

I wasn’t sure this idea was going to work very well. People are unpredictable and getting them to do something out of the ordinary is difficult right? Wrong. If you only remember one thing that I’ve said, make it this: wedding guests will go along with your plans! They are the perfect group; they all understand they are there to watch you get married, and they are ready to be delighted by whatever you’ve chosen to further demonstrate love and togetherness. This statement is caveated by the condition that the invitation to do something non-traditional is made with confidence, joy and the weight of preparation behind it; but again, you are on the In Your Own Words website so I know that you aren’t expecting anything less.

I invited guests to pair up their photographs within the ceremony so there was an actual break halfway through; this gave the wedding party the opportunity to relax, out of focus, for a few minutes. The photographs had been mounted on navy card, the wedding colour, so they looked lovely. Rather than having them under the seats, in the end the ushers walked around handing them out from baskets; this was great as it introduced movement, meaning that no guest had to be the first one to get up out of their seat. Far from nobody being willing to participate, the main worry I ended up having on the day, as chatter and laughter built, was how I was going to get everyone to sit back down again! However, of course, as photos were paired up, they naturally gravitated back to their seats with smiles on their faces, looking happily and expectantly for the next challenge.

So however you want to include your wedding guests in your ceremony, be brave and trust (yourself and) them.

*Not a scientifically researched opinion – rather, a metaphor I enjoyed.

**Again, not researched, but seems likely doesn’t it.

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