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How to Include Family and Friends In Your Wedding Ceremony

Published Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 2019

Close up photo of a wedding officiant performing a handfasting ceremony, with the couple holding hands as a braided cord is wrapped around their wrists to symbolize their marriage

Ask friends and relatives to participate in your wedding ceremony in a meaningful way for a truly intimate and memorable day 


5 simple ways to include friends and family on the wedding day 




When it comes time to plan the wedding, couples often want to include close friends and family members - sometimes even all of their guests - in the ceremony. Weddings are a communal event, and we want the shared experience to remain in the memories of our guests long after the wedding is over and our loved ones have parted ways.


Here are some ideas to help you include as many friends and family as possible in your big day!




The Family and Friends Blessing


The family and friends blessing is a small piece (reading) in which the officiant explains the importance of family and friends. After the reading, the officiant asks the guests whether they will support the couple as they begin this new chapter of their lives. It’s similar to the end of aisle question, but it’s answered in unison, allowing all guests to feel like they’re a significant part of the ceremony. 



Friends and relatives gathered outdoors for a wedding ceremony

Make it memorable.



A Ring Warming Ceremony or Stone Blessing Ritual 


Ring warming and stone blessings are ceremony components that can be added to involve guests without too much hassle setting them up. Here’s what it looks like. A ring warming is where the wedding rings are passed around, in a small bag or container, and each guest is asked to add their blessing and good wishes to the rings.


For this ceremony, the officiant explains that since the couple will wear these rings throughout their marriage, the guests can confer their blessings and good wishes upon the rings so that the couple can feel them for the rest of their lives. This is both a meaningful and hands-on approach to including loved ones in your ceremony.


The stone blessing ceremony follows a similar path, with each guest either bringing a small stone with them -- sometimes from faraway places -- or picking one up from a table at the entrance. At the cue from the officiant, each guest blesses their stone. After the ceremony, everyone adds their stone to a jar where together, they represent the collective well-wishes of the guests.


Related: Forest Themed Wedding Ceremony Script with Ring Warming Unity Ritual



An outdoor wedding ceremony, a minister officiates for a bride and groom as friends and family watch



Wedding Readings Delivered by Friends and Family


If the couple wants to honor specific guests during the wedding ceremony, the officiant can invite them to do a reading during the ceremony. Do your guests have additional talents? If so, they can even be asked to sing or play an instrument during the procession or recession.




Ask a Friend or Family Member to Officiate the Ceremony


One of the most meaningful ways to include a friend or relative in your wedding ceremony is to ask them to perform the ceremony itself. Friends can become ordained ministers online with American Marriage Ministries for free, and learn the basics (and beyond!) of solemnizing marriage in your state using our simple Wedding By State and Officiant Training pages! 



Related: How to Ask Someone to Officiate Your Wedding - Our Favorite Way to Say 'Will You Marry Us?'



Other Ways to Include Guests


There are also ceremony components such as a handfasting, a sand ceremony, or wine blending, which can be added to the wedding ceremony to involve small groups of people. These can be done when the couple wants to specifically include parents, grandparents, kids from a previous marriage, etc.


We have discovered  that promoting wedding guests from witnesses to honored participants, even if only in a small way, increases the meaningfulness of the wedding ceremony for everyone and is well worth the effort! And at the end of the day, that is why it’s so important to decide who will officiate your wedding: so that you can begin planning a truly unique and memorable ceremony. 

Updated July 2022


For more details on these ceremony components, we encourage you to browse our Wedding Officiant Training and check out AMM's exclusive, in-depth guidebook to officiating: Asked to Officiate.



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Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

Natasha Anakotta
Natasha Anakotta

Guest Contributor

Natasha is passionate about promoting marriage equality, and encouraging couples to celebrate in a way that’s authentic and unique. Aside from weddings, she enjoys Star Wars, true crime podcasts, and eating macarons by the dozen.

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