Nothing beats having all your loved ones with you on your wedding day. But it’s not easy to pass such milestones in your life without remembering those friends and family that have died and mean so much to you.
It’s natural to want to include that special person or people in your day but couples planning their wedding struggle with how best to honour a lost loved one. The dilemma is whether you choose to acknowledge this person’s absence publicly or privately. You want to strike the right balance by acknowledging that loved one while fostering a joyous mood for your happy occasion.
Find your personal comfort level
If you’re planning a tribute to a loved one, consider these suggestions:
If the person has recently died, the tribute will need to be handled differently than if you’ve had time to properly grieve. This is about finding your personal comfort level. A moment’s silence or a moment of reflection before the ceremony could be a bit tricky, no matter how strong you think you will be. No one wants to see a bawling bride at the altar and you need to consider the effect on your guests.
It also depends how much attention you want to draw to this tribute as dealing with death is very personal. You need to decide whether you want your tribute for your eyes only or if you want a public recognition of your loved one. If you are planning a public tribute, tell people who were close to the decreased in advance so they aren’t caught off guard.
The next question is: what is most appropriate for that person? Think about the personality of whoever you wish to honour. Did he or she love being in the spotlight or where they more private? What were their favourite activities or hobbies? What connected both of you and made the bond special?
Lighting a single candle
Ideas for a tribute range from the subtle to bold:
- One of the most private ways to honour someone is by wearing something that reminds you of them. It could be a piece of jewellery, a favourite photo in a tiny picture-frame charm attached to the bouquet or a handkerchief belonging to them.
- Use something they’ve given you.
- Write a short and sweet tribute in the ceremony programme under the heading: ‘In Loving Memory’.
- Lighting a single candle on an entryway table or near the cake display can make a strong statement.
- Lots of couples put together a table of family photos – both living and deceased – at the reception. A sort of ‘where we are from’ and a trip down memory lane for those interested in family history. It could include a special message.
- Saving a seat is a sweet gesture, although some may find it a bit maudlin. Often people save a seat with a photo on it at the ceremony or lay a flower from the bride’s bouquet. If the person was in the forces, their military hat could be left on the empty seat.
- Have a recipe on the menu: ask your caterer to include a certain dish that the person was known for.
- If it’s a man you are paying tribute to, how about wrapping bouquets in ties he once wore?
- Nowadays it’s easy to print an image or words onto fabric, allowing a bride to sew into her gown a cherished photo of a special person or a handwritten note. For something blue, the bride could cut a piece from a man’s shirt and sew it into the lining of the dress.
- Dedicate a dance or select a favourite song for the ceremony music or reception playlist.
- Make a traditional toast to them.
- Another endearing idea is creating a simple bracelet from a wedding band – maybe belonging to a parent or grandparents.
- The bride could include favourite flowers in her bouquet associated with the deceased person. When a colleague of mine married, she had her late mother’s favourite flowers incorporated in her church display that was then taken to the reception.
- Offer a special favour for guests at the reception in your loved one’s memory and include a sign to explain, or ask people to make a charitable donation in that person’s name in lieu of a wedding favour.
There’s no such thing as an inappropriate way to acknowledge a deceased person at a wedding. It’s entirely personal and, at the end of the day, it’s whatever makes you happy.