There is no right and no wrong when it comes to honouring and including a deceased loved one on your wedding day. There’s no specific way to acknowledge a much-loved friend or relative who is no longer with you and it may prove too painful to do so.
Whether you include a tribute as part of your ceremony or reception, or you choose to have a moment of reflection alone during your wedding day, chose the tribute that brings you the most comfort the one that feels right for you.
Here are some ideas.
1) Sew Their Memory into a Dress or Suit
It could be a simple monogram, a note they once wrote or a cutting of an item of their clothing they wore often but carrying a loved one with you on one of the most special days of your life is a beautiful way to involve them. Work with your seamstress or tailor to sew in a ‘memory’ – it can be outward facing so that guests can see it or hidden.
2) Wear a Piece of their Jewellery or Cufflinks
A parent’s wedding ring can be strung onto a necklace or worn alongside your own, a locket could hold a picture of them, or you could wear a family heirloom in commemoration. Many jewellers also specialise in creating bespoke pieces using diamonds, gems or metal passed onto clients from loved ones or down the generations. That way you will always wear a loved one with you.
3) Add a Photo or Trinket to Your Bouquet
Attach a small, framed photo, ring or trinket belonging to them to the ribbon of your bouquet to carry them with you in a subtle but personal way.
4) Handfasting or hand tying
If you are planning a handfasting or hand tying ceremony you could also attach mementos to the ends of the cords or ribbons. You could use a scarf or tie belonging to a deceased loved one as one your handfasting cords or use material from their clothing or handkerchiefs and make your own very personal and meaningful cord.
5) Include Their Favourite Flower in Your Bouquet
Weaving in a favourite flower of a deceased friend or relative makes for a touching expression of your love for them. You could add ‘their’ flower to your overall floral design for the day or dot forget-me-nots in vases or in your bouquet for a traditional gesture of remembrance. You could then lay your bouquet on a loved one’s grave or dry your flowers after the wedding for a private homage.
6) Incorporate their favourite colour into your day
Whether this is with flowers, ribbons or table decorations you have many options to showcase your loved one’s favourite colour.
7) Wear a Perfume That Reminds You of Them
If they had a signature scent that you happen to like too, give it a spray while you are getting ready.
8) Reserve Them a Seat at Your Ceremony
Reserving a seat pride of place in front of where you are getting married is a symbolic way to show your love for a relative who can’t be there. You could place a flower or photo on an empty seat or alternatively an item that makes you think of them, perhaps a hat they used to wear all the time or an ornament they treasured. Some couples find this a great comfort other couples find that such a strong symbol of their loved one’s absence to distressing.
9) Dedicate a Reading to Them
Your celebrant or one of your guests could share a dedicated reading. Whether it’s a religious reading, a poem, song lyrics or simply a passage or excerpt that reminds you of them.
10) Play ‘their’ Song
You could play their favourite track as you walk down the aisle, or sign the marriage register, or even for your first dance.
11) Use their Handkerchief
If a loved one had a handkerchief that has been passed down, tuck it in your pocket or ask a member of the wedding party to keep it handy during the ceremony and speeches. It will serve a practical purpose while also reminding you of them.
12) Light a Candle
Lighting a candle in the memory of a deceased friend or family member is a reflective, spiritual act that can simply involve you and your partner or your celebrant to mark the opening or closing of your wedding ceremony with all of your guests looking on.
A candle could be lit during the speeches and not extinguished until the last guest leaves on the evening.
13) Make a Memory Table
Decorating a memory table with photos, flowers and keepsakes allows both you and your guests to appreciate a dearly departed friend or relative at quiet moments throughout the day. You can spend time here with a glass of their favourite tipple and remember happy times while celebrating a seriously momentous occasion.
14) Incorporate Them into Your Wedding Menu
Personalising your wedding menu, dessert table, wedding cake or late-night snack in remembrance of someone you miss is a tribute that no-one will forget. Perhaps creating a cocktail named after them.
15) Have a Remembrance tree
Where you can add photographs of the deceased, this can then be placed in a prominent position for the Ceremony or on the table with the Wedding Guest Book. This gives everyone the opportunity to take a moment to remember their absent loved ones who are missed on such a special occasion.
16) Raise a Toast
Whether you opt for champagne or your loved one’s usual order, raising a toast to relatives and friends who are no longer with you is a wedding tradition that allows everyone to pay their respects.
17) Devote Your Favours to Them
A wedding favour in memory of a loved one proudly displayed at every place setting will encourage guests to discuss a departed loved one. You could explain the meaning behind the favour in your toast or speech.