Your friends are like a second family, so it’s natural to want to include them in your celebration. But what if you don’t want a conventional wedding party? Or, what if you simply have too many bridesmaids and groomsmen already? There are still plenty of options for involving your friends in your ceremony in meaningful ways.
Take into account your friends’ specific strengths and interests. They will be most enthusiastic about participating in an area where they excel, and their contribution will be more meaningful, too. DIY weddings have the most room for help from friends, such as arranging flowers or decorating cupcakes, but even more traditional weddings have room for a personal touch.
When asking your friends to participate, don’t let yourself get pressured into giving someone too much responsibility in an area where you doubt their capability. For example, if your mother-in-law insists on baking her special fruitcake–the one that got half the family drunk last year–you can be firm and tell her that you’ve already promised someone else that task.
Be open to compromises, too: when your friends are volunteering services for free, it doesn’t hurt to let them help. If you’re doubtful of someone’s competency, simply arrange for a backup. You can hire a professional photographer, and if Uncle Bob’s photos come out well, too, that’s a lovely bonus.
Do you have any creative friends who excel at knitting, painting, or making jewelry? Weddings always need small touches, so they can contribute by making a sign for the entrance or giving you an accessory to wear.
You can honor friends who cook well without putting your wedding cake in their hands. Side dishes like cookies or snacks are always welcomed before and after the main meal. Ask your venue and caterer before involving outside help, though, as some have strict regulations.
Do you have friends with good stage presence? They can come up and read poetry, well-wishes, or religious passages during your ceremony. Even shy friends, with a good microphone, will do well with this task; just make sure they practice well ahead of time.
Musical friends are easily incorporated into most wedding ceremonies. If your friend plays a harp, piano, or other romantic instrument, he or she can accompany you with a song as you walk down the aisle.
Even friends in garage metal bands can pitch in by performing a song or two for the bachelor or bachelorette party, if nothing else. Try pairing up a friend who plays an instrument with one who sings. The result could be incredibly moving.
Friends wishing to help can be given the task of greeting guests as they arrive. They can hand out items like programs, favors, birdseed satchels, or small bottles of bubbles. The same friends can be of use helping guests to find their seats, or making sure everyone gets a slice of cake. Another important job is making sure guests sign the guest book (or collecting the pages of well-wishes for the guest book, if they were distributed at tables instead).
A few playful friends can be assigned the task of sneaking off and decorating the cars so they’re ready for the couple to ride off in after the wedding. Check twice before attaching shoes to car bumpers, though; in some states, it’s not considered road-safe.
One vital way a friend can assist your wedding is as a witness. Your friend can help the legality of your wedding just by being present and signing the papers. This is an ideal role for friends with limited availability or physical mobility (as long as you’re not getting married on top of a mountain). Plus, you can honestly tell them your wedding could not have happened without them.
Not every wedding gathering has adorable small children handy. If yours doesn’t, but you’d still like a ring bearer or flower girl, assign the task to an older friend instead. He or she can put their own spin on the traditional task, as well as holding the rings, bouquet, or gown train while you’re saying your vows.
Weddings come along with many logistical concerns. Assigning a few responsible friends to take care of the little niceties that keep the day running smoothly will not only be flattering to them, but an invaluable help to you. They can be the go-to person if vendors or guests have questions, and they can keep an eye on the clock for important cues, like when the cake needs to be brought out or when the first dance should start.
Even just assigning a specific friend to make sure the vendors get tipped the appropriate amount will be a huge help on such a busy day. (Just make sure to give them the money ahead of time.)
Want to involve all your guests at once? Pass around a basket of small stones, pieces of paper, or other small objects. Your guests can write messages for you, which you can then collect in a special vase for your new home.
If your friend isn’t able to perform a complex job (for example, if they live out of town), the most classic way to include them is to ask them to give a toast. Be sure to request this with plenty of advance time, so they are able to prepare something meaningful.
The more ways your friends are able to be involved in your wedding, the more meaningful and personal your celebration will be. As the bride and groom, you know your friends best and it is your job to match them with the tasks they are best able to perform. Remember to be gracious and thank everyone who helped to make your wedding a success.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.