Heartfelt ways to remember lost loved ones at your wedding
Weddings are a marketing mecca for words like ‘happy’, ‘perfect’ and ‘celebration’.
Well, durrr. Ain’t no-one interested in fear-based articles promising a day of doom and gloom. (Tabloids and Broadsheets excepted.)
But still, perfection is an unrealistic ideal. It’s rare for a wedding to be 100% fairytale. And there are lots of reasons why it might not be.
One of those reasons? Bereavement.
Yep, that awkward topic. Yet to me, it isn’t awkward at all. And since you’re here, I suspect you’re on the left-hand side of the 0-10 ‘how awkward is talking about death’ scale too. )
And I’m also guessing someone special won’t be there on your wedding day. Whether it be a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or pet… my heart goes out to you. I’ve been there myself and I see it at wedding after wedding.
When you’re celebrating, catching up and making memories with your fam, and someone’s missing? It’s a big hole.
Your day will be jam-packed with joy, of course it will. But sadness will be there too. And that’s okay. There’s room for all your emotions.
So it’s natural to want to show your love for them and include them in your day somehow. To honour them and have them with you in some way. (In case you were wondering, it’s also normal not to.)
But figuring out how to include them can be tricky. After all, some hearts will be strong and others fragile.
My best piece of advice, as always, is do what feels right for you.
And to help you decide, here are some ideas I’ve seen on my travels as a wedding photographer, from subtle sharing to public tributes.
Attach mini photos to your bouquet/jacket
Keep them near with a locket. Katie put bluebell petals from her Grandparents’ garden in her locket
Melt their wedding ring and make a new one
Wrap one of their ties or scarves around the stems of your bouquet
Looking for something old? Seek out cufflinks, a signet ring, pearls…
Include their favourite flower in your bouquet/buttonhole
Did you keep the last birthday card they sent you? Have your name, in their writing, cast into a necklace. Some lovely sources on Etsy.
Wear socks or shoes in their favourite colour
Have a keepsake with you. Roberta attached the black cat her Grandad carried with him during the war to her bouquet
Use their favourite book as your ring cushion
Support others. If you’re missing someone, chances are someone else will be too. Maybe it’s your Gran’s first wedding without your Grandad by her side. Make it easier for them by arranging for someone to escort them to their seat.
Mention them in your order of service. Attach a tag with a dedication or include photos of those you miss on the inside cover.
Reserve a chair in their memory, perhaps with a buttonhole/corsage on it.
Light a candle, before or during the ceremony.
Include a reading, poem or piece of music they loved.
Are they buried at your church? Lay some flowers before or after the ceremony.
Hang their photos as pew ends or display in frames on a table.
Talk about them in the speeches. (Think carefully before doing this as it can trigger tears – and publicly.)
Propose a toast to them.
Hang their photos in a tree with handwritten notes that bring your relationship and their character to life … Would have loved to enjoy a pint with you, Dad, Wish we could play a game of fetch, Buster…
Did they love to dance? Decorate the dancefloor with bunting made from their dresses or shirts
Eat their fave food or snack. Anyone know the After Eight game?
Create a cocktail in their honour for post-dinner drinks
Share their signature recipe
Give a packet of your Nan’s favourite flower seeds and a cigar from Pops as favours
Instead of favours, make a charity donation
Dance their favourite action song
Incorporate a symbol that’s synonymous with them in your stationery