Congratulations on your big day! Marriage is one of the greatest joys and most exciting adventures of life. Whether you’re running off to elope just the two of you, planning on throwing a huge party, or planning something in between, you’ll definitely remember your wedding day for the rest of your life.
Weddings not only celebrate a happy couple, but often involve acknowledging, honoring, and celebrating both families of the bride and groom. If some members of your family have recently passed, it is natural that you’re feeling their absence as you look forward to your special day. Fortunately, there are many ways to remember and honor the memory of your loved ones during the ceremony, celebration, or both. Here are 15 ways you can honor and remember deceased loved ones at your wedding.
1. Incorporate a Special Reminder
Many couples dream of their marriage ceremony, but planning such an important event without your loved ones can be difficult. One option of remembering their presence is by incorporating a personal memento in your bouquet. This provides you with a gentle and beautiful reminder of their love.
You can use any special souvenir, such as a piece of lace from your grandmother’s wedding dress, a photo of your mother in a locket, or a special necklace you inherited. You can also use your loved one’s ribbon, lace, or fabric from a project to wrap the stems of the bouquet. Finally, you might consider incorporating a cufflink with lace or ribbon on the bouquet to secure it.
Another option is to incorporate a piece of their handwriting. Do you have a letter they wrote? Think of embroidering the signature of your loved one or even or a few words in their handwriting on the inside of your wedding dress.
2. Wear Something Special
It may not be practical for everyone, but you can see if there is anything from your mom, grandmother, or mother-in-law that you can wear or take with you on your special day. You can choose to wear jewelry or even a wedding dress if appropriate.
Another option is to take a piece of your loved one’s clothing and sew it into a handkerchief or pocket square. Generally, pocket squares would get tucked into the breast pocket in your suit and be seen. Handkerchiefs, on the other hand, don’t have to get seen but can be carried with you during your special day. They can even be incorporated into your ceremony by placing the handkerchief over your hands similar to a knot tying ceremony.
Handkerchiefs and pocket squares can get made from a piece of clothing, such as a dress, dress shirt, dress tie, or even a special blanket. If you have a seamstress you trust locally, you might consider hiring them to create this beloved heirloom piece for you. This is an excellent way to honor a deceased father at your wedding.
Finally, you might consider wearing your loved one’s watch or cufflinks. These items often seamlessly fit in with the outfit you want to wear on your special day. Planning on a full suit? Select a special pair of their cufflinks to wear. Eloping in shorts and a nice shirt on a cliff in Hawaii? Go with the watch, instead.
No matter how you choose to incorporate an item that belonged to your loved one, you’re sure to feel their presence with you during your special day.
3. Do Something Special During Your Ceremony
There are many ways to honor the memory of your loved one during the wedding ceremony.
One idea is to light a memorial candle. You can easily take a quiet moment during the ceremony to light a candle in remembrance of your loved one. Many couples have a candle lighting ceremony that represents two lives becoming one. A twist on the traditional ceremony would be to light candles to represent loved ones or your family members in addition to lighting the candle that represents you as a married couple and leaving all candles lit instead of blowing the family candles out.
You could also bring their memory into your vows. What did your loved one think about your new bride? Was their something they especially loved about her or him? Consider adding a line or two about how much your loved one loved your bride or groom and how excited they were about your marriage.
A third idea is to create a piece of sand art. Sand art is often used as a “unity ceremony” to depict the blending of two families into one through marriage. Rather than only using one color to represent the bride and groom, consider adding in other colors of sand to represent each family or even specific family members who have passed away.
4. Incorporate Their Memory in Your Floral Decor
One unique way to honor the memory of a loved one who can’t be with you is by representing their life, memory, and presence in your bridal bouquet or floral decor. There are several ways you can go about this.
First, depending on the colors of your bridal bouquet, you might decide to incorporate a single white flower to represent their memory. If you already have white in your bridal bouquet, then you might decide to choose a different but distinct color not included in your bouquet so the flower subtly stands out as a reminder of your loved one.
You can also carry the theme into your bridal party bouquets and other floral decorations you decided upon such as table bouquets and floral arrangements on your card or sign-in tables.
Finally, you might want to create a floral arrangement specifically dedicated to the honor of your loved one. Ideas for this include creating a bouquet with a white lily or rose for each family member or friend who passed away or crafting a bouquet of your loved one’s favorite flowers. You can place this special bouquet anywhere you’d like to see it such as the card table, on or near the altar or pedestal, or on the bride and groom table during the reception. You might also consider incorporating this special bouquet into several of your wedding pictures to represent their presence.
5. Incorporate their Memory In Your Non-Floral Decor
You can also incorporate a loved one’s memory into your non-floral decor by creating a special tribute for them.
One thing you can do is create commemorative signage. You can be as creative as you want to be with this idea, but general ideas include incorporating their picture and name, dates, a special bit of wisdom they passed down to you, and the words “In remembrance” so guests understand your sign is a tribute to a loved one.
If you don’t want to create signage, consider creating a memorial table, instead. For this, you’ll want to set aside a small table somewhere in the reception hall. Place special framed photos of your loved one, mementos, and other things that will help you them remember them.
Both of these options are excellent for honoring a loved one while giving your guests an opportunity to pay their respects, as well.
6. Hold Space for Remembrance
This may not be the right option for everyone, but you may choose to observe a moment of quiet contemplation and think of those who couldn’t be with you on your special day. You can do this as a couple during your ceremony or do this as a group with guests during your reception. If everyone knew your loved one, holding space to provide a moment of remembrance with your guests might be appropriate.
7. Bring Their Memory into Your Menu
Taste and smell always evoke strong memories. Did your loved one enjoy a favorite drink or create a special dish? You might be able to incorporate those items into your wedding day reception menu.
If they had a favorite drink, consider using that drink to toast with. You might give everyone else champagne but instruct the servers to pour you your loved one’s favorite drink for the toast. Or, you can switch up the traditional champagne by pouring everyone some of your loved one’s favorite.
Another idea is to incorporate a favorite dish they made. Did they have a famous dessert recipe you can serve alongside or instead of the traditional wedding cake? Perhaps they made some of the best appetizers you’ve ever had and you want to serve those to your guests.
8. Do Something Special During the Reception
If you have several members of your family who can’t be with you because they recently passed away, consider putting together a short slideshow of photos. You can play this while everyone watches or you can simply have it play in the background during events.
You could also consider holding a biodegradable balloon release with messages written on the balloons for your loved ones.
9. Create a New Tradition in Their Honor
Here’s a new take on an old tradition. In a “ring warming” ceremony, family members and friends of the bride and groom will hold the wedding rings before they are exchanged during the vows. When family members and loved ones hold your wedding rings, they “warm” them with their love, blessings and wishes for all the best. To honor a loved one who has died, you can place the rings in a special decorative box they owned so they can take part in this tradition.
10. Invite Others to Honor Their Loved Ones
Many brides and grooms have friends and family members who also lost loved ones. Consider inviting others to honor their loved ones by placing battery-operated lanterns on reception tables and encouraging your guests to light a lantern in honor of their loved ones. You can also include signage with the names of your loved ones and messages about how they will “guide” you or “shine on your journey.”
11. Remember Your Loved One After the Ceremony
Whether you have a big wedding or a small wedding, you will probably receive cash and checks from your guests. Consider donating some of the wedding money you receive to your loved one’s favorite charity or cause.
12. Incorporate Their Memory Into the Toast or Cake Cutting
For a unique way to incorporate your loved one’s memory into your reception, use wine or champagne glasses that belong to your deceased loved one during a toast.
As a twist on this, you can also toast to their memory during the reception. When you do, share a special memory, a funny anecdote, or piece of advice that is applicable to marriage or your wedding day.
If you don’t have wine or champagne glasses that belonged to your loved one, consider using their wedding knife set when it’s time to slice the cake.
13. Honor Them Through Your Seating Arrangements
Reserve a seat and keep it empty in honor of your loved one who passed away. You can do this for ceremony seating, reception seating, or both. Make it extra special by placing a picture of them and a single flower in the place of honor.
14. Include Their Memory In Your Wedding Program
If you plan on printing wedding programs, include a poem or message in your marriage program along with the name or names of your deceased family members.
15. Create Something In Their Honor
Are you the creative type? Perhaps you’re a poet and you can create a beautiful verse or two in honor of your loved ones. Maybe you’re a singer or songwriter and you can come up with a song to sing or play in their honor.
Songs can be sung or played while the bride walks down the aisle, if appropriate, and poems can be ready during the reception or as part of the ceremony. When you create something special in your loved one’s honor, the options are limitless for incorporating them into your wedding.
Honor Your Loved Ones
Remembering and honoring loved ones at your wedding can be beautiful and touching. Choose an idea or two that mean the most to you as you seek to bring their memory into your special day. The options for honoring a loved one are nearly limitless and how you choose to honor the memory of someone special to you is entirely up to you.