How to Remember Deceased Loved Ones At Your Wedding

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Intimate Halloween wedding by candlelight

By the time a lot of people get married, it is quite likely that they will have lost someone near and dear to them. I’ve had quite a few people email me about this over the past few weeks, so today I wanted to share some simple ways you can include a loved one who has passed away in your wedding day.

While many people might wince at the idea of including a memorial as part of a wedding day (for fear of it being too depressing or overshadowing the celebration), there are many ways that you can honour and include them in a subtle yet special way.

Have a photo of them in a locket, tied on your bouquet

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Halloween and horror wedding

Set up a memory table with photographs of them

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Doctor Who wedding

Wear something that they wore on their wedding day, or something they gave you

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Sunflower and flamingo wedding

Take some fabric from something they owned and sew it into the inside of your dress or one of your accessories (maybe in the shape of a heart)

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Colourful Mexican wedding

Walk down the aisle to their favourite song

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Alternative shabby chic wedding

Have an empty seat for them at the ceremony

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Black and pink Converse wedding

You could leave a photo of them in a nice frame on it, their favourite flower, or simply a ‘reserved’ sign.

Have a moment of reflection for them at the beginning of the ceremony

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Bohemian meets nautical wedding

You can ask your officiant to say a few words about those who aren’t able to be present. Don’t be nervous about this, they’ve probably done it before and can help you with the wording.

Include their signature dish or favourite treat on the menu

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Relaxed foodie festival wedding

Offer a special favour in their memory

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Gothic NZ wedding

Include a sign to explain it, aka “Take a shot for Mike!”

Instead of favours, donate the money you would have spent on them to a charity that helped them, or they supported

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Wedding favours that save lives

Many charities, like Cancer Research, will send you charity pins to give to your guests too. Have a card on the table that states you’ve made a donation to the organisation, in memory of that person.

Toast them at the reception

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Bohemian festival of love wedding

Release (biodegrateable) lanterns or balloons at the end of the night for them

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Colourful punk wedding

“We had helium balloons spelling out RIOT as a tribute to a very dear friend. Our friend Colin, singer of Oi band ‘Runnin’ Riot’ passed away just a few weeks before the wedding. We wanted to create a special tribute for him. I know a lot of people there on the day were missing him a lot. Then the day after the wedding, four of us took them outside and released them out to the North Atlantic wind. It was a special moment – like he just floated away to heaven.”

Has anyone else got any other ideas? Please share them!

21 comments

  1. Louisa

    My Fiance and I have lost most of our grandparents now and plan to remember them by having their posessions as part of the decor. A double bass will lean in the corner with a flower on the top, A sewing machine will be the centrepiece for one table, favourite books for one and a type writer for another. It’s our way at subtley nodding to those who helped bring us up without dwelling on sadness on the day. 🙂

  2. Alex

    I went to my garden on the morning of my wedding & snipped 3 sprigs of rosemary (which signifies remembrance) which I then added to my homemade bouquet (1 each for my brother, grandma and father-in-law). Each time I glanced down or the herbs brushed against me & released their scent I remembered my loved ones. This was symbolic & enough for me, I would have found photographs difficult & upsetting as all their passings were relatively recent, but some of the above ideas are lovely.

  3. vikki yates

    Hi Kat thanks so much for this… I emailed you a while back about help for dress fittings with my ill mother in law.

    She has now sadly passed but we already have some wonderful ways to remember her… Some private, some small personal ways too. We had a blessing in hospital with the wards chaplain where she gave us rings we wear on our right hand that help us remember her. She loved we made the small ceremony for her.

    The things I can say are that we are having a chair saved at the ceremony, with a pink rose called “mum in a million” we also have bought the cancer research favours and will put pictures of her and other loved ones around the cake.

    It is so important we all talk about these things so we can have some comfort in knowing what we are doing is what they would want.

  4. i really like those ideas 🙂

    i sewed a heart-button from my grandma into my wedding dress: she had a huge button collection that has always fascinated me as a kid and when i went through the box that i’d got from her i was so happy to find this little heart shaped one – it was a perfect lovely reminder and a wonderful “something old”.
    i also wore the wedding gloves of my husband’s granny (my something borrowed) …

  5. I like how thoughtful these are. I think I like having a piece of fabric that belonged to them the best because it feels more personal. I like the idea of the lanterns, the favors, and adding a treat that they liked as well.

    -M
    http://www.violetroots.com

  6. chiara

    My husband lost his father two years before the wedding. He used his wedding ring, and I used my mum one.

  7. Cendall

    We used old-school cardboard photo albums/single photo cards as our table numbers. Numbers were on the outside while on the inside the photos of our parents and grandparents (both deceased and alive) on their wedding days, along with a short note about their special day.

  8. Charlene

    My dad was recently given a terminal diagnosis for his cancer, we booked our wedding on the 2nd April for the 2nd May, I told him of it the day we booked & asked him to walk me down the aisle he was so excited & honoured to be asked & was looking forward to it, unfortunately he suddenly passed away in his sleep on the 7th April only a few days later, his death is very raw and in being deeply from it but we’re keeping the date for him, he has his invite to walk me down the aisle from above with him, I’m having photo charms tied to my shoes for him to walk with me down the aisle & there will be his seat left free & a photo of him placed on it, after the reception I’m planning my bouquet on his grave x

  9. Katy

    My dear Nan passed 2 years before my big day, she didn’t even see us get engaged… But she was about on the day!
    I did the something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue in her honour.
    Something old was a hanky of hers tucked in my bag.
    Something new was a necklace I had commissioned with the money she left me, it has birds, flowers and “we are so lucky” engraved on it, a phrase she’d often say.
    Something borrowed was her purl bracelet that my sister had worn at her wedding.
    And something blue was the blue sapphire ring she left me.

    I also took some flowers from my bouquet and table decorations to leave with her, my MIL did the same for the loved ones on her side.

    It was hard not having her there in person, but boy was she in everyone’s

  10. Nikki Nichols

    My daughter had her Grandpa’s old beat up straw yard work hat on a chair with a picture of him stuck in the cloth band around the hat. We have a pic of her setting goals in the next chair over looking down at the hat and pic. It’s priceless to us 🙂

  11. I love this. I struggled with it at my own wedding eventually deciding on a table with a candle and a frame with the words, “This candle burns in memory of Jonelle’s Father”. It was really important to me… I also wore a pair of heels that my dad had once bought me saying “I don’t know why I’m wasting my money, you never wear heels” and it felt like in a way, he was walking me down the aisle.

  12. Charli

    Thank you for this article! I’m getting married in 2018 and want to make sure I have my grandparents with me, as they are no longer with us. So my bouquet is going to be my grandmothers favourite flowers and I’m going to have a locket on my bouquet with pictures of them in it.

  13. Laura

    Both me and my fiancé lost our granddads last year. So we’ve decided to add a old black and white photo of them in their army uniforms on our seating plan as they were both very proud military men x

  14. At our doctor who themed wedding, we framed 8×10 photos of our deceased loved ones. We framed them in blue and posted them on the trees in the ceremony area (in the woods). The idea was that the blue frames were like the Windows of the Tardis and our grandparents, dads and my aunt were gazing upon us from their own places in space and time. My dad’s framed photo came down the aisle with me. Not a dry eye. 🙂

  15. Rosie

    My fiancé and I have both lost grandparents since we got engaged. As both suffered with Alzheimer’s in different stages before they passed we will be having charity badges from the Alzheimer’s society in place of favours at our wedding. We feel this is a positive and personal way to include our lost loved ones in our day without being morbid.

  16. Jennie Carter

    When I married in 2005, I wore the gold cross my Dad bought my Mum for Christmas the month before she died. She wore it in her coffin until just before her funeral. Dad died two years after her, in 2003. I also carried sprigs of rosemary in my bouquet. At the end of the day, I gave my bouquet to my Godmother, and she told me that she placed it on my Godfather’s grave for two days, before taking it home.

  17. Annaliese Budimir

    My Grandma passed away when I was little and don’t really remember her so much but I get sad when I think about her so subconsciously I remember her and wish I could have spent more time with her growing up. I’m going to have Peonies for my bouquet as they were her, my Mum’s and (one of) my favourite flower. My Grandad is currently terminally ill and they aren’t sure if he will make it till May but we will vross that bridge when we come to it.

  18. Maya

    We named each of our tables after a family member that had passed away so we felt they were all in the room with us and their names were included in the table plans in a special way…Xx

  19. Christina

    A lovely article, but I honestly don’t know anyway of getting through the day without upsetting myself or my mum about the fact that my dad won’t be with us. Obviously hoping the happiness on the day will overwhelm the sadness, but the idea of not having my dad at my wedding to give me away is heartbreaking. It’s been a few years since he died but I don’t want to spend all morning crying. But not mentioning him at all isn’t going to work either. I’m still in a bit up in the air about what to do.

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