It’s the joyous occasion you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl: your wedding day. But, as the special approaches, perhaps you’re also feeling a tinge of sadness as you think of loved ones who will not be in attendance — those who have passed. Many brides have found meaningful ways to remember loved ones who have held a special place in their lives and hearts. Be it a parent, sibling, or grandparent, there are lots of ways to honor the deceased in your wedding ceremony or reception to make it something everyone will appreciate and remember.
Memorial Candles One of the easiest ways to remember a loved one is to light a memorial candle near the front of the church. You can also ask the officiant to speak a few words about your loved one or recite a favorite scripture or poem. If you choose to have a wedding program, you can include verbiage about the memorial candle and the person it honors.
Keepsake Charms Charms are the perfect choice if you want to keep your tribute low key. You can either carry or wear a special charm that reminds you of your loved one or, my personal favorite, fasten a small picture of them to your bouquet. You can find vintage-looking charms that allow you to insert a small picture at craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Not only will you have carried your loved one throughout the ceremony, but you will also have created a beautiful family keepsake to be cherished for generations.
The Empty Seat If your missing loved one is your mother or father, consider leaving his or her seat empty in the front row along the aisle. As you walk by, you can place a flower from your bouquet on the seat. Because this can make for an emotionally charged moment, it is not for every bride. Remember, above all else, your wedding day should be happy. If the empty seat evokes too much sadness, opt for something else.
The Wedding Program Guests love a wedding program. Through it, they get to know your family and friends, so it makes sense to include the deceased here as well. In fact, even if you are doing any of the above remembrances, it’s still a good idea to include mention of them in the program. It allows your guests to fully experience the occasion with you and they will appreciate the sweet token of remembrance.
Photo Display Create a display of treasured photos of your loved one. Arrange them prominently on a table near the guest book or wherever guests enter the church or reception hall. You won’t be able to display all of your photos, so pick a few favorites. If they are small, scan and enlarge them to 5×7 and 8×10 sizes. Shop discount stores for unique frames. Mix and match them for added interest. Guests are guaranteed to stop, look, linger, and remember with you.
Post Wedding Tribute A private graveside tribute can be a special moment for you and your new husband. Take your bouquet, or a specially designated bouquet or corsage, and place it on your loved one’s grave after the wedding. Alternatively, if you have a church wedding, you can donate your altar flowers for Sunday services in memory of your loved ones.
However you decide to remember your loved ones is up to you. Don’t let well-meaning family members pressure you into doing something you aren’t comfortable with. Most importantly, relax and know that your loved ones will be with you in spirit, smiling down on you on your joyous day.