Honouring Loved Ones in Wedding Ceremonies
Your wedding day will be one of the happiest moments in your life, but you may be struggling to deal with the fact that a recently passed loved one won’t be there. Whether it’s a parent, relative or close friend, planning your wedding day without them can make the whole thing seem sad. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to dedicate a part of your wedding ceremony to honouring their life – if they can’t be there in person, at least allow them to be there in spirit.
The difficulty comes with thinking of a way to honour the deceased, without your day turning morbid. After all, you want people to celebrate with you, not dwell on the loss of loved ones. When I work with couples who want to remember loved ones, I suggest simple, unobtrusive ways to honour their memory without detracting from the spirit of the day.
If the deceased person would have played a prominent role in the wedding, such as a parent or close friend, you might like to designate a chair for them at the front of the room. After you’ve walked down the aisle, you could place your flowers on the chair as an offering.
You could place a picture of the deceased on the wall in the ceremony venue, or on the table or altar. Choose a lively photo that captures their personality – show them the way you like to remember them. If you find the idea of prominently displaying pictures of dead relatives or friends too overt, you may like to use small photo charms – picture frames about the size of postage stamps, tucked discreetly into your bouquet – allowing you to enjoy the presence of your loved ones throughout the whole day.
If you’re printing order-of-service programs for the ceremony, you could include a dedication to your loved one – perhaps a poem, or simply a note expressing your love for them and how much you’d have liked them to be there. You could list them as an honorary groomsman or a “guest from heaven.” After the wedding, this program becomes a beautiful reminder of your memorial.
During the ceremony itself, you might light a candle or include a prayer, memorial poem or moment of silence for the departed. Your celebrant could say a few words about the deceased and the role they had in your life. When dealing with such a sensitive topic, it’s important to choose a celebrant you trust and feel comfortable with. A memorial should be special and reflect your feelings and experience, not just a few words from a “script”.
Alternatively, you could save your tribute for the reception, perhaps acknowledging the deceased in your speech, or placing photographs or albums alongside the guestbook. Some couples like to set up a projector to show photographs from their relationship at the reception – you could incorporate pictures with special meaning to you.
There are many ways to remember the dead without bringing down the mood of your wedding day. It’s up to you to decide if you want a memorial and the best way to do it. Whatever you decide, it has to resonate with you and speak to your own ideals and beliefs. Remember, your loved ones are looking down on you and smiling! Happy Planning! Steff Steff Moore is an Auckland-based marriage celebrant specialising in alternative wedding ceremonies. Visit her blog at http://gothicweddingplanner.com for a feast of weird and wonderful wedding inspiration. Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org.