15 Ways to Honor a Deceased Loved One During your Special Day

Congratulations on your big day! Marriage is one of the greatest joys and most exciting adventures of life. Whether you’re running off to elope, planning on throwing a party, or planning something in between, you’ll remember your wedding day for the rest of your life.

Weddings not only celebrate a happy couple but often involve honoring and celebrating both families. If some members of your family have recently passed, it is natural that you’re feeling their absence. Fortunately, there are many ways to remember and honor the memory of your loved ones during the ceremony and celebration. 

1. Incorporate a Special Item

Many couples dream of their marriage ceremony, but planning such an important event without your loved ones can be difficult. One option for remembering their presence is by incorporating a personal memento in your bouquet. 

You can use any special souvenir, such as a piece of lace from your grandmother’s wedding dress, a photo of your mother in a locket, or a special necklace you inherited. You can also use your loved one’s ribbon, lace, or fabric from a project to wrap the stems of the bouquet. 

Another option is to incorporate a piece of their handwriting. Do you have a letter they wrote? Think of embroidering the signature of your loved one or even a few words in their handwriting on the inside of your wedding dress. 

2. Wear Something Special

Is there anything from your mom, grandmother, or mother-in-law that you can wear or take with you on your special day? You can choose to wear jewelry or even their wedding dress if appropriate.

Another option is to take a piece of your loved one’s clothing and sew it into a handkerchief or pocket square. Generally, pocket squares would get tucked into the breast pocket in your suit and be seen. Handkerchiefs, on the other hand, don’t have to get seen but can be carried with you during your special day. 

Handkerchiefs and pocket squares can get made from a piece of clothing, such as a dress, dress shirt, dress tie, or even a special blanket. This is an excellent way to honor a deceased father at your wedding.

Finally, you might consider wearing your loved one’s watch or cufflinks. These items often seamlessly fit in with the outfit you want to wear on your special day. Planning on a full suit? Select a special pair of their cufflinks to wear. Eloping in shorts and a nice shirt on a cliff in Hawaii? Go with the watch.

No matter how you choose to incorporate an item that belonged to your loved one, you’re sure to feel their presence with you during your special day.

3. Do Something Special During Your Ceremony

There are many ways to honor the memory of your loved one during the wedding ceremony. 

One idea is to light a memorial candle. Take a quiet moment during the ceremony to light a candle in remembrance of your loved one. Many couples have a candle lighting ceremony that represents two lives becoming one. A twist on this ceremony is to light candles that represent loved ones or your family members in addition to the candle that represents you as a married couple.

You could also bring their memory into your vows. What did your loved one think about your new bride? Was there something they especially loved about her or him? Consider adding a line or two about how much your loved one loved your bride or groom and how excited they were about your marriage. 

A third idea is to create a piece of sand art. Sand art is often used as a “unity ceremony” to represent the blending of two families. Rather than only using one color each to represent the bride and groom, consider adding in other colors of sand to represent each family or even specific family members who have passed away. 

4. Incorporate Their Memory in Your Floral Decor

One unique way to honor the memory of a loved one who can’t be with you is by representing their life, memory, and presence in your bridal bouquet or floral decor. There are several ways you can go about this.

First, depending on the colors of your bridal bouquet, you might decide to incorporate a single white flower to represent their memory. If you already have white in your bridal bouquet, then choose a different but distinct color not included in your bouquet so the flower subtly stands out as a reminder of your loved one.

You could also create a floral arrangement specifically dedicated to the honor of your loved one. Ideas for this include creating a bouquet with a white rose for each family member or friend who passed away or creating a bouquet of your loved one’s favorite flowers. Place this special bouquet anywhere you’d like to see it such as the card table or the bride and groom table during the reception. 

5. Incorporate their Memory In Your Non-Floral Decor

You can also incorporate a loved one’s memory into your non-floral decor by creating a special tribute for them. 

One thing you can do is create commemorative signage. You can be as creative as you want to be, but general ideas include incorporating their picture and name, dates, a special bit of wisdom they passed down to you, and the words “In remembrance” so guests understand your sign is a tribute to a loved one. 

If you don’t want to create signage, consider creating a memorial table, instead. For this, you’ll want to set aside a small table somewhere in the reception hall. Place special framed photos of your loved ones, mementos, and other things that will help you remember them. 

Both of these options are excellent for honoring a loved one while giving your guests an opportunity to pay their respects, as well. 

6. Have Time for Remembrance

This may not be the right option for everyone, but you may choose to observe a moment of quiet contemplation and think of those who couldn’t be with you on your special day. You can do this as a couple during your ceremony or do this as a group with guests during your reception. If everyone knew your loved one, holding space to provide a moment of remembrance with your guests might be appropriate.

7. Bring Their Memory into Your Menu

Taste and smell always evoke strong memories. Did your loved one enjoy a favorite drink or create a special dish? You might be able to incorporate those items into your wedding day reception menu.

If they had a favorite drink, consider using that drink to toast with. You might give everyone else champagne but instruct the servers to pour you your loved one’s favorite drink for the toast. Or, you can switch up the traditional champagne by pouring everyone some of your loved one’s favorite.

Another idea is to incorporate a favorite dish they made. Did they have a famous dessert recipe you can serve alongside or instead of the traditional wedding cake? Perhaps they made some of the best appetizers you’ve ever had and you want to serve those to your guests. 

8. Do Something Special During the Reception

If you have several members of your family who can’t be with you because they recently passed away, consider putting together a short slideshow of photos. You can play this while everyone watches or you can simply have it play in the background during events.

9. Create a New Tradition in Their Honor

Here’s a new take on an old tradition. In a “ring warming” ceremony, family members and friends of the bride and groom will hold the wedding rings before they are exchanged during the vows. When family members and loved ones hold your wedding rings, they “warm” them with their love and wishes. To honor a loved one who has died, you can place the rings in a special decorative box they owned so they can take part in this tradition.

10. Invite Others to Honor Their Loved Ones

Many brides and grooms have friends and family members who also lost loved ones. Consider inviting others to honor their loved ones by placing tealight candles around reception tables and encouraging your guests to light them in honor of their loved ones. 

11. Remember Your Loved One After the Ceremony

Whether you have a big wedding or a small wedding, you will probably receive cash and checks from your guests. Consider donating some of the money you receive to your loved one’s favorite charity or cause. 

12. Incorporate Their Memory Into the Toast or Cake Cutting

For a unique way to incorporate your loved one’s memory into your reception, use your loved one’s cake cutting knife to cut your own cake. You can also use wine or champagne glasses that belong to your deceased loved one during a toast. 

As a twist on this, you can also toast to their memory during the reception. When you do, share a special memory, a funny anecdote, or a piece of advice that is applicable to marriage or your wedding day.

13. Honor Them in the Seating Arrangements

Reserve a seat and keep it empty in honor of your loved one. You can do this for ceremony seating, reception seating, or both. Make it extra special by placing a picture of them and a single flower in the place of honor. 

14. Include Their Memory In Your Wedding Program

If you plan on printing wedding programs, include a poem or message in your marriage program along with the name or names of your deceased family members.

15. Create Something In Their Honor

Are you the creative type? Perhaps you’re a poet and you can create a beautiful verse or two in honor of your loved ones. Maybe you’re a singer or songwriter and you can come up with a song to sing or play in their honor. 

Songs can be sung or played while the bride walks down the aisle, if appropriate, and poems can be ready during the reception or as part of the ceremony. When you create something special in your loved one’s honor, the options are limitless for incorporating them into your wedding.

Honor Your Loved Ones

Remembering and honoring loved ones at your wedding can be beautiful and touching. Choose an idea or two that mean the most to you as you seek to bring their memory into your special day. The options for honoring a loved one are nearly limitless and how you choose to honor the memory of someone special to you is entirely up to you.

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