Warming of the Rings
A ring warming ceremony is a meaningful way to include your guests in your marriage ceremony. Each guest holds the wedding rings and silently wishes the couple good luck in their marriage, places their blessing on the rings or offers words of encouragement and love to the couple. Letting everyone hold your rings and bless them is a very powerful feeling for your guests and a memorable way for them to be connect with you and your wedding.
Explaining Ring Warming to Guests
Most of your guests will not have seen this tradition included in a wedding, so you will need to inform them about how the ceremony works and their part in it.
- For a “passing” ring warming, have the officiant announce and explain the ceremony immediately following the welcoming to the ceremony.
- For an “entrance” ring warming, place a small sign on the table with the rings. You can also have your Ring Attendant welcome guests and invite them to participate.
- Another option is to include a brief note in the invitations, explaining the ring warming, the guest instructions, and giving guests an opportunity to prepare their thoughts.
Who Takes Part in a Ring Warming?
It is completely up to you who participates. You can have all guests participate, limit it to the bridal party, or have a few select guests. We’ve included ideas for both small intimate wedding – where the ring warming can be easily incorporated with passing of the rings , to those for large weddings -where all (or selected) guests participate.
Immediate Family and Wedding Party Only
Many brides prefer to keep the ring warming small, even in a large wedding. You can include limit your ceremony to parents, grandparents, your children, or the wedding party.
Reserve spaces in the first two or three rows of your venue for the ring warming participants. Have the officiant explain the ceremony to all guests, then pass the rings to the select few. He/she can also invite the guests to silently pass their best wishes/blessing to the bride and groom while the rings are passed, or pause at the end and hold the rings aloft for all to see and invite them to send their wishes forward at that time.
Including Your Children
Ring warming as a family is a beautiful way to have children share their love for the couple and show their support of the marriage.
Ring Warming During the Ceremony
The wedding rings are passed from guest to guest during the ceremony, receiving well wishes and blessings from each guest. When planning this type of ring warming, the biggest consideration is usually the time it will take your guests to pass the rings.
If you have a large wedding, it will be difficult to have everyone touch and warm your rings unless your ceremony is very long. Some guests will want to take their time with the rings and will not want to feel under pressure to hurry. You should allow 15 – 30 seconds per guest. So, with 50 guests you will need to allow between 12 and 25 minutes for your rings to be passed.
Passing the rings is best for ceremonies with a small number of guests (under 50 people) or selecting a small number to guests to participate and including the others verbally.
Ask the officiant to explain the ceremony, its meaning, and how it works to the guests at the beginning of the ceremony (immediately after the welcome is an appropriate time).
Have a plan for passing the rings – and tell guests how it will progress. (see more about creating your plan later.)
Don’t forget to include your wedding party in your ring warming. This can awkward logistically especially for the bridesmaids who are already holding the flowers. An alternative is to have them impart their wishes/blessing before the ceremony. (Just be sure to have officiant announce that your wedding party participated before their entry).
Avoid lost, dropped, or rolling rings
- Place them in small organza bag or a box (one box for both works best.)
- Tie the rings together with a piece of ribbon
- Place them on a pillow –a ring bearer’s pillow works great for passing the rings
Place a small tag on/with the rings explaining what guests should do (you would be surprised how many people forget between when they receive instructions, and when the rings are passed to them.) Something like this will help:
- Share Your Love and Pass It On
- Please silently bless/wish us luck and pass our rings on to the next guest. Signed (Bride) and Groom)
- Please warm our rings with the love in your heart.
Creating a Ring Warming Path Plan
To create the path your rings will travel, decide where you want the rings to be at the end of the ring warming ceremony – in the front of the venue or the back.
If you want your ring bearer to bring the rings to the front of the venue following the warming, you will want them to be at the back, when the ring warming is complete. (Not recommended for young ring bearers)
If you have a single aisle venue, and you want your rings to end up at the front, start passing them at the back of the venue.
If you have two aisles, and want them to end up at the front, start at the front, have them passed down one side, and up the other ending in the front.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you not only plan the path of your rings’ journey, but walk or draw it out, so you can see the results. Don’t assume. It may not work out as you visualize.
Your officiant should clearly explain the path to your guests, to avoid confusion as the rings are passed.
Be sure to allow adequate time for the rings to be passed and in place when the ring exchange begins. If time is an issue, here is an alternate warming ceremony that works well for larger weddings.
Ring Warming Before the Ceremony
Guests can participate in the ring warming as they enter the venue.
- Have the rings displayed on a table at the ceremony entrance. Ask guests to touch the rings and warm them as they enter the ceremony.
- Place rings near the guest book, but not so close that they will create congestion as guests enter. A little distance allows multiple guests to be performing the functions at the same time.
- Have your ring attendant beside the table to explain the ring warming and invite guests to participate.
- Create a clear path for guests to sign the guest book, warm rings, and enter the ceremony. It will eliminate confusion.
- Having the ring warming before the ceremony works best for larger weddings – 50 guests. It can be used for any size wedding.
- Securely place the rings on a pillow or in a small box, so guests can touch the rings. There is no need to them to pick up and handle them. You want them to be available to all guests, not held while someone gets distracted or is having a conversation.
- Plan ahead who will be responsible for transferring the rings to the individual(s) responsible for bringing them to the ceremony. Work out the details in advance, including the timing. This will be a last-minute task. Have a definite cut off time. Sadly, last minute stragglers will not be able to participate in the ring warming. This cannot be avoided to keep your ceremony on schedule. (see Ring Attendant)
It’s a good idea to put someone in charge of the rings during. The Ring Attendant will keep an eye on the rings, facilitate their movement when passed, and ensure they are in place for the ring exchange.
Your attendant should be someone old enough to handle any issues that occur. (This is not the job for a young ring bearer.) If you have your ring warming at the entrance, the attendant explains the ring warming to your guests and invites them to participate.
If you are passing the rings among your guests, it is important to keep them moving so that they will be in place for the ring exchange.
Your ring attendant will make sure that the passing of the rings runs smoothly, picking up the rings if they fall, nudging guests if they stall, helping in passing rings across seating gaps, as well as when they move across the aisles.
The Ring Attendant position is ideal for an older child/teenager.
If you are having a ring bearer, and want to include the ring warming ceremony:
- Provide substitute rings for the ring bearer to carry and have him/her enter the ceremony as part of the bridal party. (In most weddings young children fill the ring bearer role. Few brides entrust their rings to the children to carry. Therefore using alternate disposable rings is an accepted custom in all weddings.)
- If you want the ring bearer to carry the actual rings, have him/her wait at the back of the venue after the bride enters and bring the rings forward after they are passed among guests (works best with older ring bearers.)
Bonus Idea – Including Mom
One of my favorite additions to the ring warming ceremony is including the couple’s mothers. I add this to my own weddings and have never seen it at weddings other than those I perform. My gift to you – feel free to use for your own wedding.
After the rings have passed among guests, have them returned to the Mothers. The Mother of the Groom will hold the bride’s ring; the Mother of the Bride will hold the groom’s ring. For the ring exchange, the mothers stand and present the ring to their child. This is spacial way of welcoming the new bride/groom to the family.
The rings can also be returned to the best man if you prefer to keep this tradition in your ceremony.
Pre-Wedding Ring Warming
If you are creating a intimate ring warming, with just your family members and the bridal party, you can also warm the rings at your rehearsal dinner and have a symbolic, ring warming at your wedding.
At the wedding have the Maid of Honor and Best Man hold the rings and represent your guests as the officiant invites your guests to silently warm the rings with their blessings and wishes. This does not have quite the emotional ties for guests as actually touching the rings, but is a way to include all guests in a shorter time period than passing the rings.
So now, you have a new tradition to include in your wedding. Your guests will feel they participated, not just attended your ceremony.
In Part II, we will provide sample wordings for your Ring Warming.
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