There’s a huge difference between being involved in a wedding and being at a wedding. Of course, when you’re in the bridal party or otherwise involved in a wedding, the day holds so much more meaning for you. You’ve thought about it a lot beforehand, maybe you’ve even helped make it happen, and you definitely feel a stronger sense of connection to the event as a whole.
On the other hand, we’ve all been to a wedding where you feel like a spectator watching the festivities unfold. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it begs the question:
What can you do to make all of your wedding guests feel like they are an actively involved part of your celebration?
From small gestures to activities that include everyone, here are some of our favourite ways to make your wedding guests feel involved.
Before the wedding…
- Don’t keep all the festivities secret. Everyone loves a surprise, but you can build anticipation for your wedding by telling people what’s coming. The easiest way to make someone feel involved is to keep them in the know!
- Invite people from outside your bridal party to special events. Why not include younger cousins in your mani-pedi day before the wedding, or put an open invite to any of your guests to come help you decorate your venue? Joining in a community effort makes for a memorable experience as a wedding guest.
- If you’ve got many out of town guests arriving before the wedding, host a welcome party instead of a rehearsal dinner! It’s a great opportunity to show people you appreciate that they’ve traveled to celebrate with you, and gives guests a chance to get to know each other before the wedding.
- Share your wedding hashtag before the wedding. Include your wedding hashtag on your invitations and on your wedding website, and encourage guests to use it at the bachelor and bachelorette party, bridal shower, while travelling to get to your wedding, and anything else wedding-related. There are even services available to display photos tagged with your wedding hashtag on a screen at your event!
At the ceremony…
- Give your guests something to wear so that everyone is matching. Fur babies aren’t able to be at your wedding? Create buttons with their photo on them for everyone to wear. Temporary tattoos with your names or a motif you’ve been using at your wedding will do the trick, too! Even a single flower for each guest to wear will help everyone feel connected - it will be as if everyone was given the honour of wearing a boutonniere or a corsage.
- Send your rings through the crowd to be “warmed”. A ring warming gives each guest a chance to say a prayer, give a blessing, or think kind thoughts towards the couple as they hold the wedding rings for a moment.
- Be sure to explain cultural or religious elements so that no one feels isolated. Even if both sides’ family share the same faith, there’s a good chance that some friends or coworkers will be unfamiliar with special ceremonies, and might feel left out if they don’t know what’s happening.
At the reception…
- Crowdsource your dessert! Have family and friends bake desserts, and make signage - “Grandma Sally’s Cherry Tarts” will get attention from family members who know the recipe and are excited to enjoy a familiar treat. It will also help non-family guests know just how special each treat is.
- Have your loved ones give some words of wisdom or well-wishes before the wedding and have them sent to the maid of honour to compile into signs, a booklet, or a video, or to read out at wedding.
- Make sure that any inside jokes are explained! We’ve all felt the awkwardness of being on the outside of one, and that’s a feeling we’re sure you want to spare your wedding guests from.
- Try to acknowledge as many people as you can during speeches. It doesn’t take long for your emcee to give a shoutout to your friends from college, and your fiancé’s work buddies, as well as acknowledging everyone who has travelled to cerebrate with you. Be sure to write down everyone who helped with the wedding, so you can thank them during your speech as well. Trust us - if it’s not written down, someone will be forgotten!
- Have your DJ host an anniversary dance, where the couple who has been married the longest starts out as the only couple on the dance floor, and then gradually the DJ invites couples who have been married a certain amount of years to join in, until the dance floor is full. Or have your DJ play your parents’ wedding song and dedicate it to them - music is always a great way to make people feel special!