You invite your guests to be witnesses to your marriage, to share the joy and celebrate your love. But do they get it?
At this time of social media, we expect to be engaged in what is going on, even if we do not comment. Those who witness your vows are more than passive onlookers. They care. Your love can touch them, and reconnect them with the love they have for their loved ones.
As a celebrant, I love to work with a couple who share their wishes with me. Together, we create an occasion to fully honor their values, aspirations and intention for their wedding, and marriage into the future.
Here are three ways you can bring your wedding ceremony to life for your guests.
1. Welcome and appreciation. Your guests may have traveled long distances, involving costs and their time. Doubtless, they are happy to do so. Right at the beginning of your ceremony, appreciate and value them, not just for being with you on your special day, but also for the contributions they have made to your lives so far. A little gratitude goes a long way. It brings people together, even those who are meeting each other for the first time at your wedding.
2. Tell your story. A love story engages us. Let your guests into what brought you together, what is special for you about each other, what makes you click as partners, an anecdote that gives a glimpse into your love, how you knew he/she was the one and what was the moment that happened. What is heartfelt and unusual about your story?
You can be humorous. You may be brave. It may take a little courage to share Declarations of Love in front of your loved ones, but your guests will be delighted.
Recently, several couples I have married have chosen to have an About The Couple section in their ceremony, near the beginning. For this, the celebrant tells the story they would like their families and friends to hear. How and where they met, when they fell in love, insights into their shared lives, the joy and fun they have together, what makes them click -- all go to create a picture that makes them real as a couple.
3. Invite participation Most of my ceremonies include a section where families and friends can extend a silent blessing, love and good wishes to the couple. However, you can be really creative. At one wedding, the two bridesmaids pre-arranged for 11 guests to stand up one by one, and share their individual blessing. One groom's mother created a shawl for her son and new daughter-in-law. She placed it over their shoulders, with a blessing for their comfort, sharing together and warmth in the future.
One couple recently created a "Love Tree" with branches, on which their guests could hang messages for happiness and joy in their future. The groom, a gifted carpenter, made a solid oak bench with their names engraved on it. Guests were invited to add their messages to it.
Shared singing brings people together. Music adds ambiance to an occasion. Many of the ceremonies I perform do not include hymns. However, one atheist couple chose "God Only Knows," the Beach Boys song, for all their guests to sing. Another had the hymn "Jerusalem" printed on to a fan, and yet another the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as the couple left the ceremony.
Organizing a wedding is no small enterprise. Finding a venue, making up your guest list, printing invitations and other wedding stationery, deciding on a meal, thinking about music, choosing the dress and flowers, finding a photographer and possibly videographer all takes careful planning. Your ceremony may come almost as an after-thought. Give yourself plenty of time to create it. Do not be tempted to leave details to the last minute.
Your minister, rabbi or celebrant can work with you to make sure the wedding ceremony you have will have that sparkle, and be a true celebration of your love. With their expertise, you will achieve an outcome that will last in your memory, and with the loved ones who will be with you on your special day.