Honouring those that have passed away on your wedding day can be very tricky. It can be a real balancing act. You want to make sure you acknowledge people, but you don’t want to go into so much detail that you are upsetting yourself and important guests. A lot of it can depends on who you are honouring. It is understandable that these people are all missed greatly and it is a day that you would have loved to share with them. Do you need to say something in the ceremony or is it something that you wish to do another way without words?
1. Mentioning your loved one in the ceremony.
This is the most obvious one, and is probably the one that most people think of. You can put as little or as much in to the ceremony as you want about your loved one. It is much easier to mention elderly relatives that have passed away, especially if they passed away some time ago and they had a full and happy life. It is harder with someone taken too soon, and more recently. You need to think about how you will react when they are mentioned and if you will be glad that they have been acknowledged or if being reminded that they can’t be there with you will hurt too much.
2. Carry them close to your heart.
One way that you can honour the people special to you is to have photos of them in a locket that you wear on the day, or pin into your dress. A photo can be placed inside a pocket watch that is on your suit. A lovely idea I have seen is to have small frames pinned to your bouquet. I think this is a great way to have them with you all day and present in your day.
3. A photo table or photo wall.
I have seen this done at a number of weddings and it is a lovely way to remember all of the people that cannot be with you. You can also have photos of people who are unable to attend for other reasons not just because they have passed away. I have seen this done at quite a few weddings. It is something that is not “too in your face” for guests that are still feeling the hurt of the loss of their loved ones too.
4. Leaving an empty seat at the ceremony.
I have yet to attend a wedding where this is done. When I first heard about it, I thought that it was a beautiful idea. But then I thought a little more about it and realised that someone has to sit next to that seat. Maybe your dad had passed away, but your mum would have to sit next to an empty chair and be reminded on an already difficult day that the man she loved is not there with her.
5. Choose a song that was special to the person.
This could be a wonderful way to honour someone special to you. You could have it when you are signing the marriage register or when you are walking out of the ceremony after it has finished. Especially if it isn’t a song that everyone knew was their favourite, only a select few would know. Maybe not a great idea if it was played at their funeral. And perhaps if it is known that it was their favourite song, give some of your family a heads up so that they don’t get a shock on the day.
6. Making a note in your order of service booklets.
This is another way that you can mention special people that are missed on your special day and another way that isn’t too in your face. Although people will read it, it is usually before you have arrived for the ceremony. It isn’t going to be a surprise moment to anyone and those who are missing people are not going to be taken aback by this as much as they might if you were to choose to keep an empty seat or play a song that was special to the person that has passed away.
7. Light a candle for them during your ceremony, or have one burning near their photo.
This is a lovely idea for inside in a chapel or any wedding that is indoors. If you are having an outdoor wedding maybe use a battery operated one burning for them, it would be upsetting to have a candle blow out when it is representing someone special to you. Something so small could have a big impact on select guests.
8. Use something special to them as part of your favours or bonbonnerie.
This is a great way to represent your loved ones. You could have some family famous biscuits, made from your Nan’s recipe. Or have some special after dinner mints that were a favourite of your uncle. You could choose a candle scented with someones signature scent. Again you can decide if you mention this fact to your other guests. I attended a wedding where they used the names of people that they wished were at their wedding instead of table numbers.
9. Release balloons or butterflies.
This can be done at the ceremony or you could just choose to do this for your photos and at a time when you could take a moment or two to think of the person that you have lost. It doesn’t have to be something that is shared with everyone else.
10. Sew something of theirs into your dress or wear it as a pocket square.
It could be some fabric from something that was everyday for them. A handkerchief, or an item of clothing. You can have this visible, maybe in the shape of a heart or you could have it sewn into the dress close to your heart. You could choose one of your Grandpa’s blue ties and have it sewn into the hem of your dress as your something blue. It could be a small piece of someones favourite old t-shirt that they wore all the time. Maybe they had a lucky coin or charm that you could have in your inner pocket or have little spot sewn into your dress just for it. The options on this one are endless.
At the end of the day, the person you are honouring was probably loved by so many people so be aware of those people too. I know it is your day, but you also need to think of those that might still be hurting and grieving. No matter how many years have passed. I’m a firm believer in that time doesn’t heal. It is just you are more used to the pain.
My Gran tells me all the time that before my grandfather died, he said to her that he would never see my younger sister turn 21. I know that every time one of her grandchildren turned 21, she would think of him and be sad that he couldn’t share the time or celebration with her. She is now seeing some of her great grandchildren turn 21 and I know that it is still a little bit upsetting for her every time she is invited to a party, although she is happy for the person who’s birthday it is.
Have you attended a wedding where they had a great way of honouring someone who had passed away?