We like to help make everyone feel at ease and welcome during wedding ceremonies. Engaging the guests, attendants, parents, children, and of course, the bride and groom, allows everyone to feel included and important.

There are many ways to make wedding ceremonies inclusive.

Have mom stand with dad & daughter at the presentation of the bride. The image of both parents presenting their daughter for marriage is a once in a lifetime event and priceless. We find most mothers are pleasantly surprised by being invited to stand a little closer to their daughters at this important time.

Make sure the officiant is personable and caring enough to consider others. Wedding ceremonies often involve more than an officiant. There can be readers, tributes, special music and even video, all of which the officiant orchestrates into the ceremony.

A personal ceremony should be performed only a short embrace away. We find it more intimate not to have a lectern, microphone stand, books or shuffling pages of notes to be read between oneself and the couple.

A wedding ceremony should not be treated like a classroom experience with a lecturer. The ceremony is no place to teach lessons or take notes for that matter. The officiant should speak to the bride and groom... not talk over them. He should talk about them, not just about marriage, responsibility, duty, etc. A play is not performed by people reading scripts and wedding ceremonies should not be performed reading from binders.

Recognize other friends or relatives important to the relationship. It's always nice to mention when parents or grandparents have celebrated significant milestone anniversaries. To mention the friend or sibling that introduced the couple is sometimes endearing. If the wedding is being broadcast live to relatives and friends on the internet, the bride and groom can take a moment to wave and say 'hello' to them.

The inclusive minister will involve the guests. He can ask for their blessing, provoke applause and recognize any appropriate spontaneity. It takes experience to engage an audience, and an officiant with an inclusive attitude can make it happen.

By Phillip Waring
Arizona Ministers

A second language can be added. If multi-lingual guests are expected to attend, even saying “hello” in someone’s language makes them feel special and included.

Get the minister out of the way. Toward the end of the ceremony we often go behind the guests so everyone can see the 'cake topper' the couple has become. Guests love to see the bride and groom's expressions as they are 'pronounced husband and wife' right before they kiss. Plus, the guests are now at an advantage to take their own keepsake photograph of the couple.

Other Inclusive Ideas


Get out of the gazebo. When a ceremony is celebrated inside, instead of in front of some gazebos, the guests can feel left out or irrelevant. It's fine to enter the gazebo for a candlelighting or such, but to spend the entire ceremony in space separate from the guests is not inclusive.

Have the ceremony in “the round.” From the center of the circle, we slowly turn the couple during the ceremony so everyone has the bride and groom in front of them at some moment. It also enables the photographer to get more of those photojournalistic pictures with lots of the guests included with the bride and groom.

Place wide seating so furthest guest is not that far away. When 3 or 4 chairs on each side are placed 24 rows back, the guests in the back can feel disengaged. If 8 chairs are placed on each side with 7 or 8 rows total, the farthest guest is much closer.

Add a responsive reading that the guests can recite. Scripture, a poem or even a relevant excerpt from literature can be read back and forth by the officiant and the guests. Again, involvement makes a wedding inclusive.

Avoid using a microphone if there are fewer than 50 guests. It actually puts space between the officiant and any readers and the guests. 
Like radio commercials and annoying announcements, some people simply turn off their listening when someone uses a microphone.

Arizona Ministers like to help make everyone feel at ease and welcome during wedding ceremonies. Engaging the guests, attendants, parents, children, and of course, the bride and groom, allow everyone to feel included and important.