In marriage, the backing and affection of family and community are vital. They uplift us in times of triumph and offer strength during challenges. This is why we invite guests to our wedding ceremony, not just as witnesses, but as pillars of support in our journey together.

To deepen this sense of community, consider involving your guests in the ceremony by assigning them key roles. Explore five traditional wedding customs that you can delegate to your guests, transforming their participation into a meaningful part of the ceremony.

Guest’s Vow of Support:

Incorporating the community’s support into the wedding ceremony adds depth and meaning to the union. One way to do this is by inviting all assembled guests to take a vow, a practice known as the community’s declaration of consent in the Episcopal tradition, which is embraced by many faiths.
The officiant can invite the guests to stand and ask, “Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to support these two and their marriage?” The response from the guests is typically, “We will.”
Alternatively, the officiant may phrase the request as, “Could everyone please rise? A marriage thrives with the support of a community. Will you, as this couple’s friends and family, promise to support them in their marriage, love them, and encourage their love for each other?” Guests can respond with “We will,” “We promise,” or “Yes.”
This collective vow of support serves as a gentle alternative to the traditional question, “If any of you has a reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace.” It can also replace the outdated practice of giving the bride away, as the family or all guests give their blessing to the union.

Blessing of the Rings

In a small wedding setting, you have the intimate opportunity to involve your guests in a special blessing for your wedding bands. You can ask your guests to imbue the rings with positive energy and love by passing them around during a musical interlude.
However, if your guest list exceeds 50 attendees, it may become impractical to pass the rings around the entire room due to time constraints and the risk of misplacement. Instead, consider selecting a few trusted individuals to hold the rings and offer their blessings. This ensures a meaningful ceremony without logistical challenges.

Candle Ceremony for Guests

A family and friends candle ceremony offers a beautiful way to embrace the love of your family and friends, uniting the entire room in a meaningful moment. Similar to a unity candle ceremony, it goes beyond simply uniting two families and extends to unite everyone present.
As guests enter the ceremony, each is given an unlit candle. At the designated time, either the officiant or the bride and groom begin by lighting the candle of someone in the front row. The flame is then passed from person to person, symbolizing the sharing of love and support. Finally, the last person passes the flame to the bride and groom, who use it to light a central candle. To ensure safety and avoid concerns about fire hazards and wax drips, consider timing the candle ceremony just before the procession begins. If your wedding is an evening event, the sight of all those candles glowing in the darkness will undoubtedly create a breathtaking ambiance as you exit the ceremony.

The Unity Candle

A unity candle lighting is a symbolic ritual often performed during wedding ceremonies to represent the merging of two families or individuals into one. Typically, the ceremony involves three candles: two taper candles, usually representing the bride and groom or their respective families, and a larger pillar candle, known as the unity candle.
During the ceremony, the bride and groom each take a taper candle and simultaneously light the larger unity candle together, symbolizing their individual lives and families coming together as one. It’s a beautiful visual representation of unity, love, and the creation of a new family bond. Couples may also personalize their unity candle with their names and wedding date, creating a cherished keepsake.

Wine Ceremony

During the Wine Ceremony, the bride and groom symbolize their union by each pouring wine from separate carafes into a single glass, which they then share and drink from together. This act represents the blending of their lives and the shared experiences they will embrace in their marriage. It’s a meaningful ritual that celebrates their unity and commitment to each other.

Rose Ceremony

A Rose Ceremony is a symbolic ritual often included in wedding ceremonies to represent love, unity, and the beginning of a new journey together. During the ceremony, the bride and groom exchange roses as a gesture of their love and commitment to each other. Other versions involve the couple presenting roses to their parents or family members as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for their love and support.
The Rose Ceremony can be personalized to fit the couple’s preferences and the overall theme of the wedding. It adds a beautiful and heartfelt moment to the ceremony, symbolizing the blooming of their love and the beginning of their life together as partners.

Water Ceremony

The Water Ceremony is a symbolic ritual where the couple pours different coloured water from separate vessels into a single glass, creating a new, blended colour. This act represents the merging of their individual lives and the creation of a unified bond as they embark on their journey together in marriage. It symbolizes the beauty and strength that comes from the combination of their unique qualities and experiences.

Sand Ceremony

Similar to the water ceremony, during the Sand Ceremony, the bride and groom each pour differently coloured sand from separate vessels into a shared glass container while reciting their vows. As the sands blend together, they symbolize the intertwining of their lives and the creation of a unified entity. This ritual represents the merging of their individual selves into a harmonious and inseparable union, emphasizing the strength and beauty found in their partnership.

Bread Ceremony

In the Bread Ceremony, the bride and groom each tear off a piece of bread and then share it with each other, symbolizing their future as a united family. Sometimes, the bread is also shared with family and friends, reinforcing the sense of community and togetherness in their new journey together. It’s a heartfelt gesture that represents the nourishment and sustenance they will provide for each other and their loved ones in their shared life ahead.

Ceremonies from Around the World

Salt Ceremony: Indian weddings often include a salt ceremony, where the bride passes a handful of salt to her groom without spilling any. He then passes it back to her and the exchange is repeated three times. She then performs the salt exchange with all the members of the groom’s family, symbolizing her blending in with her new family.

Garland Ceremony or Lei Ceremony: The bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers. This is a common part of Indian weddings, where the ceremony is called varmala or jaimala and represents a proposal by the bride and acceptance by the groom. It also represents their new unity, blessed by nature. In Hawaiian weddings, the bride and groom typically exchange leis. The families may also exchange leis with the couple. Leis represent the love and respect you have for the person you are giving it to and the unity of the new family.

Circling: In Eastern European ceremonies, the bride and groom circle the altar three times, which are their first steps together as husband and wife. In Hindu ceremonies, couples circle the fire seven times, sealing their bond. The unbroken circle represents the unbroken commitment to each other.

Broom Jumping: An African American tradition that has its roots in slavery times when slaves couldn’t marry. Typically, the family places the broom on the ground, and the bride and groom jump over it together. The broom can then decorate a place of honor in their home.

Lasso Ceremony: Lasso or rope is placed around the bride and groom’s shoulders, usually by the officiant. Sometimes rosary beads or orange flowers are used instead of a rope. It can also be placed around the couple’s necks, or wrists.

Celtic Oathing Stone: The couple holds or puts their hands on a stone during their vows to “set them in stone”

Truce Bell: A bell is rung on the wedding day, the happiest day of the couple’s lives and then is placed in a central location in the home. If the couple starts to argue, one of them can ring the truce bell, reminding them both of that happiness and hopefully ending the disagreement quickly.