Honoring Loved Ones at Weddings
Yesterday, my dad reminded me that it was the 18th anniversary of his mother’s, my grandmother’s, passing. I was reminded not only of my wonderful Grandma Nancy, but also all the other important people in my life that have left us all too soon.
My mind eventually shifted to how to remember all of the grandparents we have lost at our wedding. I have always known that I would want to do something special and meaningful to commemorate our loved ones who will not be with us on our wedding day, but I have been unable to decide the best way to go about honoring loved ones.
Remembering loved ones at a wedding seems to be a difficult thing to maneuver. Balancing the desire to remember loved ones while celebrating such a joyous occasion without becoming macabre is difficult. But it is very important to us to remember these people, as they held a special place in our lives and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Some ideas I have considered for honoring loved ones include:
Acknowledgment in the program or ceremony. This is a common approach at most weddings I have attended, and I think it is a nice way of honoring loved ones who have passed on without bringing an inordinate amount of attention to the fact that they are not present.
Image via Mrs. Dachshund
Incorporating heirlooms. At MOH E’s wedding, she had her great great grandmother’s prayer book included in her bouquet, and her husband wore his late grandfather’s wedding band during the ceremony. Sadly, I don’t have many things from my grandparents. I have a very small ring from my maternal grandmother and a large silver cross that belonged to my paternal grandmother. Mr. Pony has a pocketknife from his Papa, but it might not be the most appropriate item to carry down the aisle.
Photo by Pam Cooley
Bouquet charms. These lovely bouquet charms are a great way to honor loved ones with you as you walk down the aisle. They are a physical reminder of their presence throughout the ceremony and can be a really beautiful addition to your bouquet. I doubt I will include these in my bouquet, but I love how they look with the flowers below.
Photo by HyStudio via Offbeat Bride
Picture display. Another popular option is to include pictures from family members’ weddings, both young and old. Unfortunately, my maternal grandparents were divorced long ago, and I think my grandma destroyed any evidence she could of their nuptials before she passed away. I think a good alternative would be a table full of pictures of us with our grandparents, just as we remember them.
Memorial candles. This is a pretty common idea, but I really like the thought of having candles present as a touching reminder that those who cannot be present are still at the wedding in spirit. Plus, it can be very beautiful addition to your decor.
Photo by Meg Baisden Photography via Mrs. Pencils
Visiting the graveside. So, this might be a little morbid for some people, but I like the idea of visiting my grandparents’ graves before our wedding. But I don’t want to be a sobbing, blubbery mess the day of our wedding, so I am considering doing this either the week before the wedding or the day after so I can leave some of our wedding flowers on their gravestones. (I read that Prince William and Duchess Catherine visited Diana’s grave a few days before their wedding, which proves this isn’t a completely crazy idea.)
Photo by Hazel Thompson for the New York Times
Dessert buffet. I am already planning on having a dessert buffet (more on that later), and I thought it would be a great idea for honoring loved ones to incorporate our favorite sweets from our family members.
My maternal grandmother was an amazing cook. Her white gravy was the stuff dreams are made of, her fried chicken was legendary, but my sweet tooth and I most loved the array of desserts she made for family gatherings. I would love to include her sour cream cookies that she would make especially for me whenever I went on vacations or long trips.
The only problem I have is coming up with an appropriate dessert from each family member. For instance, my paternal grandmother died when I was six, and my memories of her are unfortunately limited. I have no recollection of a dessert specialty that she made. I do remember my grandma sneaking me Kudos bars when I was at her house as we watched our Cubs play on the TV, so I might have a big bowl of Kudos instead because they always remind me of her.
Photo by The Cohens via Mrs. Dumpling
My problem (one of many) is that I want to incorporate a lot of these ideas for honoring loved ones, but I don’t want to go overboard either. I love the idea of having pictures displayed with candles at the reception and having a note in the programs, and I really want to do the dessert-table idea, but I’m worried it might be considered too much focus on deceased relatives for some of our guests.
Here are some pictures I found for our memorial table.
Helping Grandma Erma roller blade circa 1994
With my paternal grandparents circa 1990
How did are you honoring loved ones at your wedding? How much is too much for memorials at a wedding, in your opinion?