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Six Creative Ways to Involve Family and Friends in Your Big Day

By Evelyn Hylton

While anyone who has been to a wedding will probably tell you that the day belongs to the bride, almost every bride will tell you that her heart, mind and energy belong to the people surrounding her.

For most brides, the wedding day is a time when their dearest friends and family members can partake in a huge step from one phase of life into the next. Friends and family play important roles before, during and even after the cake is cut and the last cocktail is served, but sometimes, the people with whom you spend your most cherished moments are unable to share all of the hallmark moments of your wedding when the big day arrives.
Even if they can’t be in your bridal party, walk you down the aisle or give a toast at your reception, you can still find creative and meaningful ways to include them in your wedding plans.

1. Plan a Girls’ Weekend Away
You can only fit so many people in your bridal party, but you can steal a few more of your girlfriends away on a weekend getaway. Find a weekend where you and the girls—especially those you do not get to see as often—can kick back and enjoy a couple of nights in a beach house rental, a hotel in the city or a camp under the stars (“glamping”—camping with nice amenities—is a real thing these days!). Let this be a time when you can de-stress and enjoy one another’s company before the wedding chaos hits. Think extended bachelorette party!

Hint: this might be a great idea for your groom and his friends, too.

2. Involve Them in the Ceremony
Depending on how you choose to organize your wedding ceremony, there are many ways to involve family members. You can ask a new sister-in-law to sing during the prelude to the ceremony, you can have a favorite uncle read a meaningful passage during the ceremony and, of course, you can have a young relative act as a flower girl or ring bearer. There are many other options as well from asking young men to serve as ushers to having young women hand out programs at the beginning. You could also ask a family member to “oversee” certain details—simply having a way to contribute and know that you thought of them is plenty of recognition for those you love but may be outside the range of traditional wedding party parameters.

Hint: If someone seems to be sensitive about their involvement, ask if there is something they would like to contribute. You may be surprised at what they suggest!

3. Choreograph a Dance Number
Choreographed dances are not just for the bride, groom and parents. Friends and other family members can tear up the floor, too! Creating a fun, energetic group dance routine for you, your wedding party, and especially others close to you and your groom, is a fantastic and often hilarious way to connect with one another and add some unique flair to your reception. And that is not even half the fun. Collaborating together on the dance routine, practicing and making mistakes—maybe lots of them—provides plenty of opportunity to laugh and make lifelong memories. What bride wouldn’t crack a few giggles at her posse getting saucy on the dance floor?

Hint: YouTube is a treasure trove of zany dance routines. Have fun researching all the montages out there and gain some inspiration.

4. Got Talent?
Do any of your friends or family members have a special skill or talent? If they could tastefully show off at some point during your wedding day, why not invite them to work their magic? Examples can range from musicians, dancers, comedians, food and ice sculptors—you name it. You could even ask a tech savvy relative to put together a special slide show that highlights your lives and new life together and then display it at the reception. Having friends and family members contribute their talents to an event as significant and personal as your wedding would probably mean a great deal to them, not only as artists, but as your cherished loved ones.

Hint: If you’re on a tight wedding budget, this may be an opportunity to involve family members and save the cost of a professional vendor; just be aware that expectations need to be clearly communicated—and any associated costs—well beforehand.

5. Create a Tribute
One great way to touch the hearts of those close to you who may not have had the opportunity to be in your wedding party is to create a short, but sweet, tribute to them to be read at the reception, during the rehearsal dinner or even during the ceremony. Highlighting a few precious or humorous moments you and each of these people shared together will go a long way in letting them know the depth of your appreciation for them! You can also display photo books—easily made from a variety of web sites—that allow guests to read about your lifetime of memories.

Hint: Sharing memories also allows you to know your fiancé’s family and friends better and vice-versa.

6. Make-Your-Own Dessert Favors
If you can muster up the time and energy to spare a couple of hours in the week before your wedding, gather the family and friends together for a session of food, fun and creativity in the form of dessert favors! Just make sure you have enough ingredients and supplies for everyone to help making and designing the desserts which you can then use at your rehearsal dinner or reception—and plan to make a few more for necessary “taste tests,” and possible mistakes, along the way. You and your fellow bakers will have a blast designing and tasting your unique and delicious favors where messes and mishaps are welcome. Make sure you leave enough for the guests if you can!

Hint: If you absolutely cannot spare a minute within a week of your wedding, relax. You can do this activity even a few months in advance and simply freeze the cake pops or sugar cookies until they are needed.

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