How to honor and mention someone at a wedding who is deceased (or very ill) is always a dilemma. It is important to share the person’s life and spirit but not make the day painfully upsetting. Here are ten ways to bring a loved one who is “gone” but never forgotten to the wedding:
- A quiet remembrance would be to wear something that belonged to the loved one. A locket, necklace, bracelet, or even a dress for the bride… for the groom, cuff links, a pocket watch, handkerchief, ring, or other personal items can be worn.
- Something can be attached to the bride’s bouquet or a groom’s jacket. A small picture frame, a locket with a picture, a handkerchief, a piece of fabric from a special piece of clothing, or other item, can be pinned on and then removed later for safekeeping. One bride took her grandfather’s monogrammed shirt cuff and used it to wrap her bouquet. This grandfather happened to love blue shirts, so the bride had something old and something personal at the same time
- A quiet way to let all guests know is to have an empty seat for the missing person(s). A single flower can be placed on it before the guests enter the ceremony site. Another way to do this is to have the seat empty. The bride carries a bouquet, but she also carries a single flower and places it on the seat of each person to be remembered as she walks down the aisle. The groom can carry one flower and place it on the seat. Or, the bride and groom can place the loose flower on the seat as part of the recessional.
- Another public yet quiet way to do this is to have a small vase with a flower (or however many that equals the number of people to be honored) on the altar/table under the chuppah/elsewhere during the ceremony. This may or not be mentioned as part of the ceremony, but its existence is significant in itself.
- There is often a mention in the wedding program. The officiant can make a statement in public as well, if the couple so desires…
- How about getting married or having a reception in the same venue as a loved one? Instead of just focusing on the loss, focus on keeping the tradition alive.
- Music is another vehicle for honoring loved ones. Perhaps there was a traditional family song for walking down the aisle or for a first dance… This can either be announced or just played without mentioning the song. Remember, the couple and those closest to them will know why the song is played, but the band leader/DJ can certainly mention it. Guests can be invited in an upbeat manner, for example, to join in the bride’s grandmother’s favorite song…
- A memory table is another possibility. This is a table with photos of those who are being remembered, and it is typically placed near the escort card table or the gift table. It is helpful if there are captions so the guests can know who the loved ones are.
- If the wedding favor is a contribution to a charity, the reason for the choice(s) of charity can certainly be noted.
- Food choices can reflect loved ones as well. Serving a particular dish can remind the bride and groom of loved ones… or, provide your caterer with a loved one’s cookie recipe, for example, and this can be added to the dessert.
In the joyous wedding day, the loved ones are always, always “there”… even if there are no mentions or actions, the place in one’s heart is forever.
photo courtesy of Laura Eaton Photography