Your parents have stuck by you through all your awkward phases.
Including your desperate pleas for a horse when you were 8 ("of course I will feed it every day, Dad!"),
your emo phase at 14 (black was the new black)
and your unhealthy obsession with a really dodgy local band when you were 21 (don't deny it, you know it's true).
And if your siblings are anything like mine, they would have mocked and teased you mercilessly through the aforementioned phases.
But here you are, planning your wedding and you really want to acknowledge and include them in your big day.
Sure, your dad can walk you down the aisle, but what other ways can you include your family in your wedding?
There are 3 core ways you can include them; practically, in a supportive function or by honouring them and the special relationship you share.
- The least sappy way to include your family is to utilise their unique and natural talents. Do you have a budding musician, videographer, artist, designer or handyman in the ranks? Then incorporate their strengths; perhaps wearing the wedding gown your sister designed, with your little brother playing guitar as you walk down the aisle towards the arbour that your father-in-law built?
- Brothers and sisters can also provide a much-needed focal point for organisation (a go-to person for your venue coordinator) and guest questions or hand out wedding favours (rose petals, sunscreen or fans etc.), seat people or distribute order of ceremony booklets.
- Once the ceremony gets underway, you may need someone to hold the rings, help with a symbolic wine box or love lock ritual, or simply be responsible for looking after your marriage certificate so it doesn't get misplaced.
- Your mother, father, brothers or sisters can be included in your bridal party as bridesmaids or groomsmen. It can be a smart way to ensure quality time is spent with them and makes for some beautiful memories and photo opportunities. They'll be with you while you're getting ready and be literally by your side during the ceremony. Bonus Unbridely points for including your grandparents in your wedding party!
- I've also seen a bride escorted down the aisle by her entire immediate family. She didn't want to have to pick between them so they all walked down together – it was an emotional and beautiful moment.
- In modern wedding ceremonies, the sentiment of the giving away is more about the support and encouragement from family than the exchange of real estate and livestock that it used to be. And, although it is customary to have the 'man of the house' give the bride away with a formal 'I do', it is becoming more common for both the Mum and Dad of the bride to participate in the giving away. Again, bonus Unbridely points for including both sets of parents, step-parents or even Godparents in this tradition.
Anyone with a little confidence and a clear voice can do a reading at your ceremony; this includes your parents, siblings and extended family.
- Being a civil celebrant, not many of the couples that I marry are very excited by Shakespeare or passages from the bible. But when we find just the right reading, quote from their favourite movie or tv series, the lyrics to their favourite song or footy chant, they're well on their way to making their ceremony so much more warm, personal and memorable - rather than something that has to be endured.
- Another ceremonial aspect that can be incorporated is a unifying family ritual - either a unity candle, sand ceremony or collection of flowers to form a bouquet.
- In Australia, couples are required to have 2 witnesses who are 18 years of age or older, sign the marriage certificates. But why not buck the tradition of having your maid of honour and best man? How about asking your grandparents, parents, brother or sister to come forward? It's a touching and permanent way to honour your relationship.
When you choose to include family in your ceremony and delegate specific responsibilities to them, it develops a sense of community, acceptance, inclusion and togetherness; the very definition of family. Memories made and shared together to last a lifetime.
How are you planning to include family in your wedding ceremony? Let us know in the comments.