Losing someone close to you is very hard, and at times, it can cause bittersweet moments during your wedding planning. There are great ways to honor your lost loved ones at your ceremony and/or your reception to varying degrees according to your preference. While not wanting to cause a mournful veil upon what should be a happy day, you should most definitely do something that feels comfortable and honorable to you, without overshadowing the festive occasion.
Mention in the Program
This is a nice acknowledgement that doesn’t call a lot of attention to your loss but memorializes those that are no longer with you.
These lovely candles can be setup on a table or altar during the ceremony. These are also great to use during other occasions and holidays, too.
Having a beautiful locket or pin that includes the image of your lost loved one is a beautiful way to keep them close to you throughout the wedding.
Give Them A Seat
We’ve done both of these at weddings, and they have proven to be heartfelt gestures and expression of love. We’ve had grooms walk up the aisle with a small flower in their lapel or long stem rose in their hand to sit on an empty chair for their lost mother (even one did a cigar for his dad!). With brides, we’ve had them carry a single bloom along with their bouquet down the aisle and leave it on the chair before they reached the altar. Another great option is to have images of your loved ones in the seats designated for them. We have also left a reserved seat at the table where that person would have sat, with a place card at their setting.
Memory tables wonderful way to showcase your loved ones as you remember them– their wedding photos, portraits, etc. You can incorporate your wedding style in colors and textures with this table to make it a congruent part of your event. An interesting twist on the memory table is to have it dedicated to your loved one. One bride had images of her and her dad at various stages in her life, with a few candles, her dad’s old Navy hat and his favorite drink.
Here are some very subtle ways to honor and include your loved one:
- Wear an item belonging to your loved one (jewelry, cufflinks, ties, shirts, etc.) One bride used her father’s silk tie to cut a heart shape out on to the back of her dress as her “something blue”
- Use your loved one’s favorite flower in your bouquet
- Have their favorite hymn, song, poem or bible verse performed at the ceremony
- Serve one of their recipes or favorite dishes at the reception
- Give their favorite snack/dessert as favors
- Make a donation to their favorite charity or medical research organization on your guests’ behalf in lieu of favors
It’s important for me to let you know, there is no right or wrong way to honor someone. If you felt extremely close to the person you lost, then feel free to express this in a respectful way. If the loss is still fresh, perhaps a more subtle gesture is probably more appropriate and easier to deal with their absence at your event. If you’d like to see this demonstrated and documented in a very loving and open way, please see Scarlett and Stephen’s wedding for some touching inclusions.