A marriage is not just about two people: it involves their families, friends and their community. A couple will often turn to these people when they need advice or support. So it makes sense for couples who are planning a wedding where only their family and friends will be in attendance to give them the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. There are several unique traditions that incorporate wedding guests actively in the ceremony:
One lovely tradition is called "The Blessing of the Rings." Your wedding rings are passed to each of your guests and they are asked to send positive energy and love in a blessing as they receive them. If you plan to use this tradition, your ceremony must be organized to give enough time for each of your guest to perform this ritual. Most often this is done during a wedding music section. When you have more than 25 guests, you might designate seating for those that you want to participant in this activity.
"Passing the Flame" is a candle ceremony which is particularly beautiful for evening weddings. It extends the unity candle tradition from the couple to everyone in attendance. Each of your guests receives a candle when they arrive. At the moment when the wedding rings will be exchanged, the bride and groom each light one of the guest candles. Then each of the guests in turn lights the candle of the person next to them. When every one of the guest’s candles is lit, the last person that receives the flame, passes it to the bride and groom’s candles to light their unity candle. The best time to do this is right before the procession. This makes a spectacular sight as the guests leave and go into the night.
Much like during a wedding reception where guests and members of the wedding party extend their well-wishes to the couple, the tradition of "Giving a Wish" during the ceremony allows any of your guests to give their blessing to the marriage. The person who is officiating at the ceremony should inform the guests when this will take place. It's also a good idea to let your guests know in advance that this will be a part of the ceremony, but they are not obligated to participate. This gives time to prepare what they want to say and removes any kind of embarrassment.
"Pledging Support" is a tradition that gives your guests the opportunity to declare their support of the couple’s marriage. After the exchange of wedding rings, the officiant requests all in attendance to rise and asks: "Will you, the family and friends of the bride and groom promise to love them, support and encourage them?" To which the guests respond: "We promise." If you plan to use this tradition as part of your ceremony be sure to inform your guests ahead of time.