How to Honor Passed Loved Ones at Your Wedding

I am writing this for me as much as I’m writing to you, future brides. My father should have been at my wedding to help me organize our beautiful day. Now, I have to find ways to make him present with us throughout the day without him being physically here.

Through the years, many couples have shown me ways to incorporate their loved ones on their wedding day. From traditional to personalized ideas, here are a few tips to honor them at your wedding.

Honor them with your wedding attire

If you want to feel close to your late grandma or your mother, why not use their wedding dress? You can change it a bit, but reusing a dress they picked for their big day could mean a lot to your relatives and to you. The same can be done for the groom: you could wear your father’s tie or cufflinks to remember him on the day.

Another way you can think about them is to do like one of my past brides, Amanda: she added photo lockets of her grandparents on her bouquet. I thought that was a great idea and very touching. I know her parents were really moved by this and I was happy to immortalize this lovely gesture.

You can also choose your mother’s favorite flower and incorporate it in your bouquet or your boutonniere. Actually, Meghan Markle did something like that. On her wedding day, she carried a bouquet of forget-me-nots and white roses that had been planted in Diana’s memory in the gardens of Kensington Palace the year before. How touching!

Honor them during the wedding ceremony

This is a tough one and depends on how you want to handle your day. There are different ways to tell your guests that you are missing your parents or grandparents. Maybe check in with close relatives who may be sensitive to death, and note your comfort levels.

This is one I’m debating on doing myself. You could add photos of loved ones to your ceremony aisle or reserve a seat for them at the front of the ceremony with a photo, flowers, or a candle. Is it the best way to honor them, I’m not 100% sure that I can look at an empty chair… but if it feels right to you, you should go for it.

On a lighter note, you can also light a candle during the service in memory of all those who are there in spirit. During the ceremony, between two speeches, you can ask everyone to take a moment to share what they mean to you and how much they’re missed. One way to honor a deceased loved one at a wedding is to include them in the program by adding an “In Loving Memory Of” tribute on your program with the rest of your ceremony details.

Honor them at the Reception

For their wedding, Ben and Michela created a beautiful photo display celebrating those who have passed. This is a great way to include the many people that your family has lost, and show everyone that you are not forgetting them. With a simple message “Looking down from Heaven”, the bride and the groom definitely added a nice touch to their reception venue. They also added old wedding photos, a lovely touch! Both their grandmother had lost their husband so what a great way to remind them of their own beautiful big day with a sign saying “Dedicated to all the love that came before us”.

There are 4 other ways to make space for their memory:

  • Acknowledge them during the reception speeches.

  • Toast with their favorite wine or include their favorite after five drinks on your bar menu.

  • Incorporate a favorite food or activity of theirs into your day.

  • Dance to their favorite song.

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