By Sheila Grant
The bride and groom have selected their maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer. But what about all of the other friends and family who want to feel involved in your special day?
Traditional ways to involve loved ones include having them do a reading or sing, said Mackie Faye Hill, owner of Simply Unforgettable Events by Mackie. In cases where the couple does not have a strong religious affiliation, it can be meaningful to have a close friend become certified as a marriage officiant to perform the ceremony.
When the bride and groom have children, Hill likes to have the children combine colored sand in receptacles that become keepsakes symbolizing their blended family. There are also wine ceremonies and candle ceremonies that can be as elaborate and inclusive as the bride and groom would like.
“I love it when people get really creative,” said Hill. She has seen occasions during which each guest brings an item matching the theme chosen by the bride and groom, and adds that item to a collage or container to create a one-of-a-kind memento for the couple. “Or I’ve seen each person bring a blossom which is placed into a large arrangement during the ceremony. I’ve seen outdoor weddings where each person has a ribbon and adds it to a May pole – not a full-sized one, but one small enough for the bride and groom to keep and take home.”
Easier still is including everyone in the wedding preparations and reception festivities. Let loved ones find potential caterers and music, for example.
“Mother-in-laws often feel left out because the wedding is about the bride and the mother of the bride,” said Hill. “I’m always careful that the mother of the groom feel included, even if it’s a small task like finding three or four types of invitations to show the couple.”
Hill is also a fan of having open mic for toasts and well wishes during the reception, or creation of a wish box or wish tree, with note cards available at guest’s seats for written sentiments. Photo booths are popular, and newer ones will save photos collectively so that the bride and groom can get copies. Some booths also create video, eliminating the need for a wandering videographer at the reception.
Danielle Dorrie, event coordinator at the Lucerne Inn in Dedham, said that putting loved ones in charge of decorating is an ideal way to involve everyone.
“Because the bride and groom have so much to worry about, and everyone wants everything to be perfect, who better to trust than friends and family to decorate and make sure your wedding day is everything you ever dreamed of,” she said.
Extra ushers to seat guests are also important. A new app for smart phones allows wedding guests to take photographs that are then uploaded to an account for the bride and groom to view later, because, “a photographer’s job is to focus on the bride and groom, not on the crowd so much,” said Dorrie.