I love small weddings. An intimate ceremony of forty or fewer affords possibilities that just can’t happen in a large gathering. When you have a small wedding your guests can be more than an audience–they can be a part of the celebration. The small acts done in the course of the ceremony are typically designed to give thanks or receive blessings and are much more meaningful in a more intimate group.
One way to give thanks is with sharing something meaningful. You can share symbolic food items like heart-shaped strawberries, braided bread, something with a familial or cultural significance. Some couples choose to share wine or tea with guests. Small tokens of esteem or flowers are nice to hand out to each guest as a way to make a personal connection.
You can receive blessings by inviting everyone to speak or write a wish on a card which can be hung on an archway, placed in a box or book. Friends and family can take turns reading stanzas of a poem, lighting candles on a cake that all will share, making blessings over wine; the possibilities are endless.
I’ve done weddings in which the guests had copies of a poem written especially for the ceremony. I read the poem and the group read the chorus. In another ceremony, a small group of friends used flower petals to encircle the couple, spiraling the petals out into a larger circle in which the group stood.
The best thing about a small ceremony is the stress level is much lower. You can actually enjoy the occasion. And its meaning is much deeper when it’s shared with just a small gathering of close family members and friends.