A wedding, being one of the most creative celebrations people experience, is a perfect opportunity to find new ways to invite guests to help the happy couple craft lasting memories.
“In older days the whole village was invited. It was a community thing,” said Jamie Belew, who recently planned her daughter Jessie’s wedding. “Now it’s a more intimate affair because people have spread across the U.S.” This can make guest participation even more important.
The 1980’s wedding tradition of videotaping family and friends during the reception may have gotten easier with the technology nearly everyone carries, however not every guest is good at delivering even well-rehearsed lines and some might not even want to be photographed. That does not mean that they do not want to be part of the activities.
Even if the newlyweds are able to say hello to every guest at their wedding, they may not have enough time to share that moment of advice, memory or observation that make up the emotions of the memory of that special day. One way to allow guests to be involved with the day is to provide a way for them to share a written message.
Sending a note card to be dropped off in a special place during the reception allows family and friends to take their time to compose a thoughtful message. It also can allow those who are not able to attend the event to still participate. Extra cards can be left out for additional comments or for those who forgot their original card.
“Traditionally hope chests were given to brides to pack for their wedding day,” said Belew, who went to a wedding where comment cards were sent with the invitations and included in a hope chest to be opened on the couple’s first anniversary. “It’s interactive. It infuses more energy into the gift when people take time to sit and write something down.”
This is part of why Belew chose to use a leave-a-note activity as part of the décor for her daughter’s wedding. “I had seen the memory cards, but we were in such a small space we couldn’t dedicate a lot of room to that,” explained Belew.
“I had been looking at rustic ideas for weddings [at a craft store]. I was trying to figure out how to incorporate the memory cards with the small space and when I saw the tiny clothes pins, it all clicked.”
Guests at the wedding were asked to write a thought for the bride and groom on a card which was pinned to twine hanging across the wall like a clothesline. Although tape and other materials commonly used to hang items were not allowed, Belew had chosen a project that was light and could be tied off easily to existing protrusions.
Although leaving notes for the new couple can be sentimental and fun, not everyone is comfortable coming up with the words to convey their thoughts. In this new age of thoughtful transference, some couples are providing objects to be infused with good thoughts and prayers that they plan to take with them into their new home.
When the Todds were married, pink quartz stones were incorporated into their Christian service. Guests were asked to take a stone to hold throughout the event making it a point to handle it with thoughts for the newlyweds. The stones were then returned where they have sat in a prominent place in their home to remind them of the many individuals who came together to support them on the day when they pledged to become a family.
“I think the stones were actually Andy’s idea,” said Amy Todd. “I don’t know how he came up with it, if he was indeed the one that did come up with it, but I’d like to think that maybe he created that whole rose quartz idea just out of the sweetness of his gentle little heart.”
Some people may want to save the seriousness for the ceremony preferring a more entertaining way to invite their guests to participate. Table games are a popular new way to amuse and engage guests as well as help them socialize.
Questionnaires can be formatted in various ways encouraging them to socialize as they gather answers to questions that reflect the individuality of the couple. From simple line items of questions about the couple’s pasts and favorites to a more complicated game of Bingo where people must find individuals to sign their card according to qualifications, questions start conversations.
Questions also can be used in scavenger hunts, however making use of current technology is one of the best ways to establish memories through a scavenger hunt. Ensuring groups of at least two with one of them having access to a camera with online capabilities, a couple can set up a page on one of a variety of social media with wedding participants posting photos according to a list.
Guests can seek out a bride’s great-aunt, the groom’s college buddy, or who met one of the newlyweds through their hobby, posting selfies with significant guests or places around the venue. The possibilities are limited only by the questions and the imagination of participants.
Although photos of weddings can fall into a similar category as photos of vacations, even those who do not know participants can enjoy pictures of people having fun. A photo booth is another easy way to ensure newlyweds have a plethora of pictures as they fill their time with hats, glasses and other props that can be uploaded immediately or saved to share later.
Photos also can be made fun by including guests in the décor. “As we have been working on planning the wedding, our first idea was to have the wedding party dressed in ‘Lord of the Rings’-type apparel,” said Christine Wolverton of her upcoming nuptials. “We are also fans of the ‘Star Wars’ movies, and when I found a wedding cake topper that had R2D2 as the groom and BB-8 as the bride, I knew at that instant we were having a nerd-themed wedding.
“We decided that the wedding party will still be dressed in LOTR-style apparel,” said Wolverton, “but the rest of our guests can dress in their favorite Lord of the Rings/Hobbit or Star Wars character.”
Wolverton also has thought of those who will be unable to come in costume. “We will also be handing out elf ears to the wedding guests upon arrival so no one gets left out.”
Including the audience in a wedding theme doesn’t have to be as extravagant as costumes. Asking guests to wear a specific color is a simple way to include guests while contributing to the overall appearance of a wedding.
One of the most important ways to include a guest is just to make them feel welcomed. There are so many things to attend on the wedding day that some wedding parties might find extra activities too overwhelming. For these folks being able to prepare in advance is the best stress-reliever. A welcome package can be prepared well in advance and still make guest feel special.
Even those who are local can benefit from basic information about the site, attractions and eateries nearby and other personal items such as a simple thank you note for their attendance. Welcome packages can be as simple as a bottle of water and tissues for during the service to a bottle of wine and gift cards to activities for the after party.
Only limited by creativity and budget, a bridal couple can include their guests in their special day in ways that extend well beyond the traditional participatory roles and activities. From helping to capture the moment, to leaving behind thoughts for the future, a new couple’s company can create memories that enhance the wedding day well beyond expectations.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.