How To Engage Your Guests In Your Wedding Ceremony

by | Wedding Planning Wisdom, Wisdom


Jo Booth of Jo Booth Celebrant
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Image via Studio Hudson

When I work with couples one of the first questions I ask is “how do you want your guests to feel during the ceremony?”. This helps me to understand the kind of ceremony the couple want to have, the vibe, and then I can help guide and make some suggestions as we design the ceremony together.

My ceremonies tend to lean towards fun and laughter with a pinch of romance. I am also a big believer in making sure your guests are present and engaged in the ceremony. Not just bystanders.

I try to throw in a few suggestions of ways to engage guests, to capture them right from the start.

Here’s my top 10 ideas for engaging your guests in your wedding ceremony:

Image via Studio Hudson

  1. Witness ‘lucky dip’ – pop the names of your guests (or even just the ones you wouldn’t mind being your witness) and at the start of the ceremony you draw them out of the ‘hat’. Especially useful if you can’t decide on who to choose.
  2. Hide the rings – hide/tape your wedding ring(s) under the chairs of the guests. At the start of the ceremony we ask guests to check under their chairs and the lucky guests get to be the ring bearers during the ceremony.
  3. Group vows – as part of their commitment to the couple I like to ask guests a few questions and get a group “WE DO”. Questions like; “Do you promise to ugly cry and feel all the feelings? Do you promise to holler and clap in all the right places? Do you promise to dance your arse off at the reception and not leave before the couple? (group) “WE DO”
  4. Bridal Party Intro – After being primed by the couple, the Celebrant introduces each member of the wedding party in the theme of either a talent contest or a game show or even a beauty pageant.
  5. Ring Warming – this is actually a Celtic tradition. The rings are placed in a bowl or on a piece of string. During the ceremony these are passed around the guests who each make a wish whilst holding the rings and then pass onto to the next person.
  6. Musical chairs – during the signing guests can play musical chairs i.e sit next to someone they don’t know when the music stops.
  7. Flash mob wedding reading – chosen guests OR ALL sing or read poem, reading or song during the ceremony. I like to sometimes add this to a ceremony as a surprise for my couples (if I think they will totally dig it). It can be such a great way for the couple to stop and really take in their ceremony.
  8. Wishing bowl – as guests arrive they write their wishes (in one word) for the couple and drop them in a bowl. These are gathered up and could be read during the ceremony, the reception or on their first anniversary.
  9. Marriage advice – similarly guests can provide some marriage advice to the couple and these suggestions can be read out to the couple or saved for an anniversary (or the first fight?).
  10. Guard of honour recessional – The guests form a guard of honour for the couple. Guests can blow bubbles, raise a glass of champagne, hold something high (flowers or palm fronds) or just high five the couple as they walk through to a really fun song (this can be formed during the signing of documents) and is such a fun way to end a ceremony.

Image one Jo Booth Image two by Sarah J via Francescka & Anton’s Romantic Winery Wedding

So there’s my top 10 ideas to really bring a bit of joy and laughter to a wedding ceremony. Really consider how you want your guests to feel. After all, they have gone to a fair bit of effort to be there too (admittedly not as much as the couple).

Another good thing to remember is if you have friends or family members that were disappointed at not having a ‘role’ at your wedding, these kinds of activities can be a way they CAN feel part of it. It’s easy to find them a little job to do on the day with some of these activities.

Image by James Day via Emma & Ryan’s Elegant & Rustic Country Homestead Wedding

Remember the wedding ceremony isn’t just the ‘boring legal bit before the reception. WITHOUT your celebrant and the ceremony, your reception would just be a party. So why not make it fun and get the vibe going for the reception. Set the tone from the outset. Really great celebrants will go above and beyond, so please use their skills and experience to help you bring everyone ‘in the room’ as it makes our jobs so much easier and FUN!

Ms Zebra Says: Including guests in your ceremony is a great way to make everyone feel involved – especially those who may have felt a little left out without a ‘role’ on the day. Thanks Jo for sharing these great ways to involve those closest to you in your special day.

About Jo Booth: Jo is a marriage celebrant and MC that loves to laugh so it makes sense that she tends towards fun, joyful and laughter filled ceremonies. But fear not, Jo can be romantic, serious and sombre when it’s needed. Jo’s ceremonies are NOT cookie-cutter, they are each completely different and written from scratch. Jo will ensure your ceremony is stress free, oh and legal, so you can relax and enjoy your special day. It will be the stuff of legends.


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