Ring warmings and geeky call-outs: 12 ways to include your guests in your ceremony

Pronouncing
Margaret and Dave had their guests pronounce them married with cue cards!
Photo by Love Me Do Photography

Including your guests meaningfully in your ceremony can lead to moments of truly tearful poignancy. From ring warmings to flower circles, and Mad-Libs to Lord of the Rings jokes, we've compiled some of our sweetest, funniest, and most favorite ways to include your guests in your ceremony and vows. All together now…

Ring Basket
Missy and Mike's ring nest. Photo by Kirsten Lindquist Photography

Ring-warming ceremony

A ring warming, where guests send their intentions and blessings through your rings can be super meaningful. Just be careful with timing if you're passing them around to a large audience. One trick is to place the rings somewhere public prior to the ceremony for everyone to warm as they walk in. Like so:

"Ring bearer"
Photo by Kandice Hadley

Ask for a simple verbal blessing

Asking your guests to affirm their love and support for your marriage can be more affecting than you might think. Here's what Courtney and Sam said about their ceremony:

We decided to include an audience participation moment in our ceremony. Our officiant asked if the guests would promise to love and support us and share with us all of their secrets for happy relationships, and then everyone said "we will." It was a very simple promise, but hearing everyone at once was great and kind of broke the nervous ceremony fog.

Introducing the "Allison & Chris, you are..." white board
Photo by byfield-pitman photography

Make the blessing "call and respond"-style

In addition to just a simple affirmation, you could up the ante with your guests by having a call and respond section of the ceremony. Kim and Greg had this plan for their ceremony:

We wrote our own vows, and had a friend of mine who happens to be a wedding officiant walk us through a ceremony that included a few "call and response" sections that involved all of our guests. At the end our of vows, our officiant asked our guests if they agreed to support and sustain us in our relationship. After everyone shouted "We do," we smooched, and walked back down the aisle, while the band played "Fly Me to the Moon," which is Greg's favorite song.

Or do what Allison and Chris did and create a guest challenge to come up with a word to describe them:

We really wanted an element of crowd participation, but as an atheist, most ring warming ceremonies and the like were too spiritual for my tastes. Instead, one of our bridesdudes proposed a challenge to the audience during his speech. He had everyone focus on coming up with a word to describe us and then asked our guests to share the word with us through the reception photo booth (which we had instead of a guest book). The results were both touching and hilarious.

jmwedding1280_430
Thanks to levinine for the photo

Have guests help build your bouquet

Here's the ultimate DIY wedding bouquet idea: as your guests enter your ceremony venue, give each of them a flower to contribute to your bouquet. Or you could even ask each guest to bring a flower as their gift. It also gives you a chance to quickly greet everyone.

Photo by
Photo by Maggie Winters

Assemble an eternity flower symbol

Have your guests create an eternity symbol out of flowers around you at your ceremony. Here's how Victoria and Jacqueline did it:

All the guests came forward, picked flowers out of a vase, and laid them in two conjoined circles around us, making an eternity symbol. We placed this about halfway through the ceremony, so we stood in the circles through the rest.

kids ringing in the ceremony
Photo by Megan Schley

Include special guests into your processional

You may already be planning to include your wedding party and/or family members in your processional, but you can actually give anyone you like a special walk of their own. If you have a lot of kids at your ceremony, maybe they could have their own bell-ringing entrance, for instance. Here are a few more tips for crafting a processional like a boss.

P R O C E S S I O N A L
Photo by One Love Photography

Include EVERYONE in your processional

This Alabama wedding offered a spot in the processional for everyone. They rocked out with guitars, drums, tambourines, and sparklers. You could even continue the song-fest in your ceremony, too, like Briavael and Nikki did at their musical wedding.

Have guests dictate your Mad-Libs-style vows

Offer up a Mad-Libs fill-in-the-blank on your wedding website or program or just have your guests call out ideas impromptu during the ceremony. It can lead to hilarious results. Here's how Ashley and Dan did it:

Dan and I wrote our own vows, which included Mad-Libs that required audience participation, references to Frozen, and me getting Rick-rolled. I think they were the perfect combination of funny and serious. I cried, and even Dan choked up a little, which prompted an unscripted hug from me.

Include them in your inside jokes

Maybe you're including a bunch of pop culture references or inside jokes, but that doesn't mean your guests have to be left in the dark. We've got a whole discussion going over how to clue your guests in on your references. I suggest including notes about the references in your program. But there's an even more inclusive way to go about it…

_MG_2381_WEB
Photo by Lulu Photos

Designate some audience members to interact with your reference

Secretly getting some pals to help you out with your pop culture-inspired vows can add a laugh to an otherwise nerve-wracking situation. Jessica and Jacob took this route and added in some of their favorite geek references for good measure. Check out this Lord of the Rings snippet from the end of their vows:

Him: I vow to always sing you Soft Kitty when you are sick. But only when you are sick.
Her: I promise that if a strange man in a blue Police Box tries to take me away, I will insist that you tag along.
Him: I promise that you will always have my sword.
Her: And you will always have my bow.
(Chorus of nerds:) AND MY AXE!

PHOTO05
Photo by Milestone Images

Have a ceremony in the round

Asking your guests to surround you with their love can be pretty meaningful and intimate. we've seen TONS of ways this has been done to awesome effect.

Cole + Kim Wedding guests blowing us a kiss to kick off the ceremony!
Photos by Kym Ventola

Have your guests blow you a kiss

Kim and Cole said their ceremony started off with all of the guests simultaneously blowing them a kiss. What a beautiful way to start your ceremony with a sense of guest involvement and an outpouring of love. Just have your officiant start with the request for a blown kiss and voilà: instant warm fuzzies.

IMG_0157
Photo by Rosalie Hincks Photography

Give the kids in your wedding party some extra truthful (but not mean-spirited!) signs to escort you down the aisle.

More participation ideas!

Are you planning some audience participation in your ceremony?

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  1. A lot of these are cute. My fiance and I are doing a ring blessing. Since we are having an exceptionally tiny wedding (six guests at the moment), it should not take much time at all. we are also doing a send ff in which each of the guests writes their best wishes on sizzle spell paper that will be thrown into either the fireplace or the fire pit.
    http://www.sacredmists.com/color-magick-sizzling-spell-paper.html

    I do not like the signs the boys are carrying. I know lots of people think it is cute;however, I just do not like it. I know these are supposedly "truthful," but they seem mean spirited to the child, not towards marriage in a general sense.

    1 agrees
  2. I was going to comment that we had done multiple of these, but I see that you reference our wedding in the article! lol

    In addition to the Mad Libs vows, we also had a ring-warming, stole the "we will" idea from OBB, and our ceremony was sort of in the round (it was a semi-circle around us)

  3. We had our guests participate in the call and response from Monty Python's Meaning of Life. We coached our bridal party on it so that if it fell flat at least there would be more participants than just me and my husband but to our delight a ton of guests chimed in! It was absolutely hysterical!

    1 agrees
  4. Great stuff of Ideas! Since 22 I years I have been serving in US wedding industry as an officiant. I have seen many weddings in this period. But I liked only those where guests were completely involved. It really looks nice and I believe most of the guests enjoy this and not feel bored. I wish couple should read this article for once before planning their wedding. So they can make the ceremony more interesting!!

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