Your wedding is a celebration of love and the joining together of your families. It is only natural that you would wish to find ways to honor and remember deceased loved ones who have passed away before your wedding day.
I have witnessed the numerous ways couples have chosen to memorialize deceased loved ones, whether the family member or friend passed long ago or fairly recently before the wedding.
This is a very heartfelt decision for you and you want to do the right thing. I know it can be difficult to come up with ideas, especially if there are a lot of emotions tied up in the decision. That’s why I put together this list of ways to honor deceased loved ones at your wedding.
But first, a few things to consider when planning to memorialize someone at your wedding.
How Recently Did They Pass?
If your loved one passed fairly recently, you want to recognize them, but you don’t want to cast a sad and melancholy air over the celebration.
How Much Attention Should Your Tribute Draw?
Death and mourning are very personal and everyone handles them in different ways. Do you want your tribute to be for your eyes only, visible but not ‘front and center’, or do you want to make sure that everyone notices it?
Choose a Tribute Appropriate to the Person Being Honored
Consider the person you are remembering and what they might have wanted. Did they like to avoid attention or were they the life of the party? Keep this in mind when choosing how to memorialize them.
1. Carry Their Photo With You
Whether you put a photo in a locket and pin it to your bouquet or simply print it out and put it in your pocket. Having their photo close to you is a great way to literally carry their memory with you.
2. Create a Memory Table
This has become a common sight at weddings over the last several years, with tables showing wedding photos from previous generations (parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents).
You can also create a stand alone table for a particular departed loved one to honor their memory.
3. Carry a Family Heirloom
Much like carrying a photo, this is a wonderful way to keep a deceased loved one’s memory close to you. You might wear their wedding ring. I have also seen rings and handkerchiefs and other items sewn into wedding dresses.
4. Reserve a Seat For Them
Keep a seat empty at your ceremony, symbolizing that you know they are with you in spirit.
5. Provide Favors in Their Honor
Offer a special favor to your guests, and be sure to include a sign that explains the significance.
Example: “These were grandma’s favorites, now they are our favors!”
6. Donate to a Charity in Their Honor
Perhaps instead of favors, donate the money you would have spent to a charity your loved one supported or felt strongly about. Make sure to put up signage explaining the decision.
7. Play Their Song
Maybe you can recess out of your ceremony to their favorite song. Or you may choose to dedicate a dance at the reception in their honor.
8. Wear Something that Belonged to Them
Ties, cufflinks, wedding dresses…there are lots of options here to keep your loved one in your thoughts.
9. Give a Toast in Their Honor
Propose a toast to their memory with your guests at your reception.
10. Dedicate a Portion of Your Ceremony to Them
You may choose to have a reading that they loved, or you could simply choose to have a moment of silence in their memory.
11. Dedicate Part of Your Reception to Them
Did they love taking selfies? Maybe you should name the photo booth after them. Did they have a favorite dessert? Consider having a dessert table with their favorite sweets and a sign denoting the significance of your choice.
12. Think Outside the Box
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, consider what is appropriate for your loved.
Below is a tattoo one of the bride’s I worked with got of a saying that her father always used to say to her.
What makes this extra special? She actually typed it out on his old typewriter and used that as the stencil for her tattoo!