They’re on the guest list for your big day and all the events in the lead-up, but if you really want to make your family feel part of the action, honour them with a special task, gathering or mention. These ideas invite loved ones to contribute in ways that are meaningful, personal and helpful, for a celebration with deep connection.
1. Take mum dress-shopping
Need help sifting through the swathes of tulle and layers of lace? Invite Mum along for the ride and you can gasp in tandem when you find the one! Some brides even sentimentally choose the same gown designer as their mum, or include fabric from their mother’s dress in their own. Precious. Even if you decide to invite your sister, best friend or bridesmaids to do the gown rounds, ask your mum to your final fitting – and bring a box of tissues.
2. Tap into traditions
Many modern weddings blend cultures as well as families. Traditional wedding rituals will ensure both sides feel honoured and included – and impress your guests with their often fun, festive and colourful nature. (If you’ve been lucky enough to attend an Indian wedding, you’ll know what we mean.) Want a contemporary twist? Try a simple and visually symbolic ‘unity ceremony’. Invite your parents to either help light a unity candle or contribute to a sand ceremony, where colourful sands are poured into one clear vessel to create a pretty keepsake.
3. Be a good host
Even if your big day is a blur, your parents will cherish a pre-wedding dinner or picnic (family only) to catch up, swap stories and soak up the sense of anticipation. Unless both sets of parents are already good friends, you’re also creating a valuable bonding opportunity. Or, host an intimate post- wedding brunch before your honeymoon.
4. Bring Nanna into the bridal party
If you thought toddlers in tuxes and tutus scattering rose petals was adorable, just consider flower grandmas. Inviting your or your fiancé’s nanna to take a place in your ceremony line-up is a beautiful way to remember your elders.
5. Do a call-out for your old/new/borrowed/blue
This age-old tradition is an ideal way to honour several family members. Think a vintage brooch from Nanna, borrowed veil from Mum, and a matching pale blue pedi for you and your mother-in-law. The ultimate ‘borrowed’ option? A family property. Perhaps your parents run a hobby farm in the hinterland, or your grandparents have a grand old Queenslander with river views and a picture-perfect backyard. It’s a chance to celebrate in style while feeling right at home.
6. Give mum or dad a pre-wedding hug
Those last few minutes before you make your entrance can really accelerate. Like, warp speed. So, take the opportunity for a quick regroup with your mum as she adjusts your veil or Dad as he takes your arm. It’s a photo op in the making but also one of life’s great parenting moments they’ll remember forever.
7. Get dad on the tools
Some of our favourite DIY wedding moments have featured dads, well, building stuff. A labour of love, these projects usually span several weekends, involve a few trips to Bunnings, and conclude with a round of beers. From timber ceremony arbours and welcome signs to reception table décor and photo booth props, your father will appreciate the chance to utilise his creative chops.
8. Ask them to walk you down the aisle
When it finally comes time to face the red carpet, most brides don’t go it alone. With all eyes trained on your every move, it’s nice to have a loved one to lean on. And while the idea of being ‘given away’ may seem outrageously outdated, you may change your mind when you see your father’s face on the day. Proud. As. Punch. Alternatively, you could invite both parents to escort you, or a family member who played a significant role in your life. When you reach your betrothed, consider having both sets of parents stand beside you, in lieu of attendants.
9. Play to strengths
Take a closer look at your inner circle. Is your mother-in-law a natural hostess (and a wiz at crowd control)? Station her at the ceremony or reception entrances to welcome guests and direct them to their seats. Does your father- in-law rock the acoustic guitar? Ask him to take care of the music for your reception arrival. Grandad the green thumb of the family? See if he can gift you a few lovingly grown blooms from his garden for your bouquet or reception arrangements. Or he may just have a luxe vintage car in the garage: hello, bridal party transport!
10. Consider a crafternoon
Tidy your ribbon drawer and stock up on stationery supplies, because wedding crafternoons are trending. Whether it’s stuffing and labelling invitation envelopes, writing seating cards or piecing together reception bunting or floral wreaths, they’re an excellent excuse for a chat and a cuppa (or a cheeky glass of wine!). Plus, you’re ticking things off your ever-growing to-do list. Want something a little more structured? Look for a floral workshop where you and your DIY-inclined fam can learn how to create table arrangements or boutonnière.
11. Show your love
Display old wedding photos from your parents and grandparents at the reception or in your slideshow (trust us, they’ll be chuffed!). This charming talking point will bring a sense of history and gravitas to the celebration. Honour key family members who have passed with a remembrance candle, photographs or even a moment of silence followed by their favourite song.
12. Word up
One of the most popular ways to include family is to ask them to do a reading at the ceremony. It could be a treasured book extract or quote, favourite song lyrics, or a bible passage. They don’t need to stress about learning lines by heart, it’s a reading, remember! If you’re a multilingual clan, consider a reading in your ‘family’ language followed by an interpretation in English.
13. Find your grandparents, pronto
After the ceremony, your grandparents would love to be the first to congratulate you. Seek them out for a minute of one-on-one time before you’re swept away.
14. Give a speech
Time to step up and be heard. This is a perfect time to include your parents and in-laws by publicly thanking them for their love and support during your relationship and wedding planning. Be specific, as it’s the sweet details and funny stories that make a speech memorable.
15. Save the first dance
If you’re not reserving the first dance for yourselves, consider a father-daughter and mother-son combo. That way you and your partner will both be on the floor to switch to a ‘newlyweds’ dance before kicking on into the party playlist. Consider asking your parents to help with the song selection or you could even bring them along to your pre-wedding dance lessons.