Weddings are a test of relationships. If you’ve got a large group of friends, you’ll likely have to decide who would become bridesmaids and groomsmen. But that can be a hard decision to make, especially when you have big friendship circles and want to involve everyone in the wedding celebrations but don’t know how. So I’ve put together some ideas on how to involve your friends in your big day without making them part of your bridal party.

Let them help you plan

If you have an idea for something you want to do at your wedding but don’t know how it’s going to come together, ask your friends if they can help out with that aspect of it. For example, if you want to have live music but don’t know where to start finding bands or DJs, ask one of your musician friends if they’ll help out by playing at your reception. They’ll appreciate being able to give back and help out their friend while also getting to participate in one of the most important days of her life! Don’t know a musician? Ask a friend who is already married or attends lots of weddings who certain vendors were – referrals are gold!

Ask them to officiate

If you’re having trouble finding someone who will perform a wedding ceremony at a reasonable price or can’t find someone you click with, consider asking one of your friends who is ordained (or could become ordained) to officiate at your ceremony. Not only does this mean getting married without having to pay an officiant fee (which can be costly), but your ceremony and your photos will be so much more personalized if you have someone you know and trust to pull off an amazing ceremony.

Have a friend take engagement photos

One of my favorite tips is to ask a friend who has some photography experience (or even better, professional experience) to take engagement photos for you! The photo session can be relaxed and low-key, and they’ll capture all those candid moments that occur when you aren’t even looking at the camera.

Tell them about any special traditions

If there are any special traditions involved in your ceremony or reception—for example, if there are specific songs or readings that have meaning for both of you—let your friends know about them ahead of time so they can prepare themselves for what will happen during those parts of the day and keep things on track for you.

Ask them to recite any ceremony readings

If you’re looking for a way to involve your friends in your wedding without making them part of the bridal party, consider asking them to recite your ceremony readings. This is a great way to incorporate some of your favorite books, readings, or poetry into the ceremony while including those most special to you.

Invite them to get ready with you

This is a part of the wedding that’s often overlooked — and that’s getting ready with your favorite people. To be honest, prepping for the day can be fun if you have the right company, so why not extend an invite to your friends?

If you want to give your friends a role in your wedding, find a way to do it – whether they are in the wedding party or not. You are inviting them because you want them there, and you feel that you will benefit from their presence. So don’t have any worries – they’ll be happy to be included whether their role is big or small. You’ll have a great time with them, and they’ll have a great time celebrating with you!

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