Experiential Wedding Ceremonies

Create a unique wedding ceremony that is memorable and includes your guests!

Millennials have opened the door to authentic, experiential wedding practices instead of the traditional ceremonies where family and friends are only spectators. Many partners now include both parents walking both the bride and groom down the aisle. Other couples include their family dogs dressed in bow ties or tutus and their horses are adorned with floral neck wreaths to match the bride’s bouquet.


While most weddings are often a one-day event, weddings can last longer which keeps family and friends active and engaged, especially destination weddings in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Start the wedding day with a helicopter ride to a mountain top wedding ceremony and then ski down to the base for the reception. The next day the guest can participate in dog sledding and cross country skiing with an out door picnic and finish the day at the hot springs and spa.

“Why the rise in experiential celebrations? Kim Sayatovic says that younger couples are not quite as interested in opting for tradition when tying the knot, so they are increasingly looking for ways to express the unique aspects of their personalities and their relationship. Millennials want to be individuals, so the traditional cookie-cutter wedding is not suitable for their preferences. As a result, to-be-weds are constantly experimenting and looking to create a fully customized wedding day.”

Here are some examples of how you can incorporate meaningful experiences into your wedding for you and your guests:

1. Your location “Sets the Stage”

  • Ranches, lakes and beaches, mountain tops, castle-like heritage buildings, camps, etc. all offer endless possibilities in make a wedding statement.

  • Let’s take a ranch wedding - the wedding party arrives in a stagecoach where the groom rescues the bride from an armed mounted bandit. The wedding party "posse" brings the captured bandit to the Sheriff (marriage commissioner) where the guests (courtroom jury) decide on the appropriate western punishment – the bandit is sentenced to an evening as the bartender!

  • The ceremony vows are performed in the “old west” dialectal and at the end of the ceremony, each guest is deputized with a personalized wedding favour “deputy badge” for their outstanding community service.

2. Themed Ceremonies

  • All guests come dressed in either white or black. Theme can be woven into everything from the food to decor and even the ceremony can address how marriage is never “black and white.” This also allows for a stunning group photo!

  • Choose any theme and encourage your guests to participate and have fun with it. Whether it be world travel, Hollywood movies or choosing an era, theme dress codes enriches the wedding experience and permits the guests to participate by dressing the part. A castle or heritage fort offers the opportunity for a medieval a feast and jousting,

  • A Great Gatsby wedding supports the complete transformation of the environment and guests arrive in Flapper dresses and top hats. The Roaring 20’s table décor display opulent tall ostrich centerpiece placed on top of gold and black linens complete with Gatsby icon wall decor to set the tone. Upon completion of the ceremony - everyone is served a glass of champagne!


3. Social Media

  • Social media has made our world so much smaller for international ceremony experiences. During challenging times like Covid-19 where families and loved ones are not able to be present with you on your special day, the use of Facebook, Google Meet and Zoom to name a few, are the next best thing!

  • The ceremony can be streamed live to your family homes, hospitals and nursing units anywhere in the world.

4. Welcoming Guests/Acknowledge the Deceased

  • Ask guests to stand that have traveled far distances to celebrate your wedding.

  • Offer a small bouquet of flowers or bottle of champagne to couples that have been married the longest.

  • If a loved one has passed prior to your wedding, consider raising a glass of wine and toast them in the ceremony.

5. Blending Families

  • Recognize your children in the ceremony and welcome them into the experience. Choose a ritual that is easy and meaningful to you and your children. Whether it is a soon to come child, biological or adopted step children - what better and more important way to bond a new family unit than have the children participate in a ceremony.

  • Add the wedding bands to the face of a large sunflower for a ring bearer to carry or tie the rings to the flowing ribbons of a flower girls floral princess wand.

  • The Hand Fasting ceremony is a perfect opportunity to include your children in “tying the knot” and is a forever memory for everyone! Make sure they practice before the wedding day!

6. Choose an inclusive ritual

  • Ask your guests to write "Marriage Affirmations" on a piece of paper placed on each of their ceremony chairs. The guests can place their heartfelt messages into a basket as they leave the ceremony area.

  • Add the Ring Warming ceremony to the experience. Passing the rings from guest to guest gives your friends and family an opportunity to opportunity to anoint your wedding bands with heartfelt wishes, a blessing or prayer for your marriage. Your rings will be filled with community love and an abundance of good wedding wishes during the ring ceremony.

  • Have your musical friends and family lead a musical procession for the wedding party with a wide assortment of musical instruments. Why not add a drumming circle into the ceremony?

  • Your marriage commissioner can ask for a community vow of support in the “spirit of joy and affirmation” of your marriage. “Do you, the families and friends of this couple, give them your blessing and support this day, wishing them a wonderful life together? They all respond – "we do!"

The opportunities are endless for you to create a memorable wedding ceremony that involves your family and friends, and it is the perfect way to add your own personal touch to fulfilling your wedding vision.

Sayatovic, Kim. Dec 27, 2016. Trend Alert: Experiential Weddings in 2017, https://www.specialevents.com/special-events-blog


About Me

Sharon Barwick, CSEP is a licensed wedding officiant based in Calgary, Alberta, and the surrounding area. Sharon strives to design a meaningful ceremony that highlights your genuine love story and is inclusive of all identities, cultures, backgrounds, and traditions. To ensure that she can produce the perfect ceremony for you, she offers consultations and regular phone and email communication. This dedicated professional has experience in incorporating a variety of personalized rituals such as hand fasting ceremonies, family blending ceremonies, and more. She encourages and supports you to write your own vows and she is pleased to include your family pets in your celebration. Whether you are hosting an elopement, full wedding ceremony, or renewing your vows, Sharon Barwick Weddings is dedicated to your vision.


Text Sharon for a free consultation or call 403-880-1900.

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