5 Ways to Honor a Deceased Loved One at Your Wedding

A young couple looking at a photo album together.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, so it makes sense that you will want your closest family and friends present to celebrate with you. If you’ve lost someone close to you, the pain of missing them on your wedding day may be hard to handle.

Just because these people are gone doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your wedding. There are a number of special ways to include lost loved ones into your wedding day. Recent deaths especially may carry powerful emotions of sadness and loss, so it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing how you will honor them. For some, this means a simple, intimate reminder no one else is privy to, while others prefer incorporating a larger display of love. While planning your wedding day, consider these five tributes to deceased loved ones.

1. Let the Officiant Say Some Words

This is one of the more traditional ways of honoring loved ones who have passed. Your wedding officiant will have the attention of everyone gathered for your ceremony, so they are the perfect vessel for a few kind words or a poignant moment of silence. If you have a list of family members you wish to remember, make sure to provide your officiant with all their names and correct pronunciations. Alternatively, you may choose to find a poem or religious text that conveys your feelings and have your officiant or another loved one read it aloud.

2. Wear or Use Something of Theirs

A rosary tied around a wedding bouquet.

Our loved ones often leave behind a variety of items that remind us of their influence on our lives. Don’t be afraid to get creative with how you utilize them on the day of your wedding. In some cases, you may have inherited a piece of jewelry or a small trinket that you can include with your wedding attire. Apart from their normal use, rings can be worn on a bracelet or necklace. It’s also extremely easy to attach other jewelry items to bouquets or boutonnieres. If you have a special article of clothing that reminds you of your lost loved one, consider keeping it close by. You may also want to sew a piece of that article into the inside of your dress or shirt. This allows you to keep their memory near and dear all day long.

3. Incorporate a Photo Collage at Your Guestbook Table

The guestbook is designed to be a collection of signatures and well wishes from all your family and friends in attendance. What better place to keep tokens of remembrance for those who can’t be there in person? Create one or more photo collages to display on the table alongside the guestbook; everyone who signs your book can take a moment to remember the deceased in their own way. If you’re looking for a way to honor your missing loved ones without drawing a lot of attention, this is certainly an ideal option. It’s especially touching if you have several loved ones from both sides of the family you wish to remember. If you’re technically savvy, you can create a slideshow or memorial video to play on loop nearby. Consider including some family videos, pictures, and touching music. It doesn’t take much to create a touching display of affection for those you miss the most on your special day.

4. Play a Special Song

A close-up of a violinist playing.

If there is a song that reminds you of the deceased, then include them in your wedding ceremony or reception. Music is everywhere during a wedding, so there are plenty of opportunities. When choosing songs for the various first dances during the reception, consider including a dance dedicated specifically to the deceased. You can then invite all of the family and friends of your missing loved one onto the dance floor for a celebration of their life.

5. Save Them a Seat

You typically pay by the plate for your guests, not by the seat. Consult with your venue first, but it’s likely you will be able to secure one or more extra chairs specifically for the purpose of honoring loved ones who have passed. Save them a seat at a table, or even give a group of missing family and friends one of their own. You may also want to place a meaningful item nearby; a favorite clothing item, hat, or even a flower can serve as a touching reminder that, even though your loved one isn’t physically there, their presence is felt.

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