Walking down the aisle is usually an exciting event for any bride or groom. A whole host of your closest family and friends are there to help you celebrate and all seems right in the world. However, occasionally a bride or groom must get through the day without a loved one that they always dreamed would be there. Many couples face their wedding day after the loss of someone they love. The good news is that there are many amazing ways to honor a lost loved one at your wedding without allowing the entire day to tumble into a slump of melancholy. How do you balance a solemn tribute with a joyful day? This post is dedicated to ways to honor lost loved ones, without bringing your wedding atmosphere from party to pitiful.
1. Wear or Carry an Item that Belonged to Them, During the Wedding
This may be the most private of all the tributes listed but it could be the most meaningful to you. Is there a special piece of jewelry or small trinket that belonged to the love one that you want to honor? This could be a locket that your grandmother always carried or your dad’s favorite cuff links. Consider wearing them as part of your wedding attire. A few ideas are: sewing them inside of your coat, adding it to your veil or pinning it to the inside of the bouquet. The advantage to this type of tribute is that it is mostly private, so the melancholy effect on the wedding guests are minimal to none. However, if you want to make it a more public gesture, feel free to share about your reasons for wearing the item at the reception.
2. Add a Tribute to Them in the Program
A more visible way to honor a loved one who has passed on would be to include a tribute to them in the program. You could include their favorite poem written in the program or even play their favorite song during the ceremony or reception and give a brief explanation. The advantage to this type of tribute is that it is public, and everyone is involved. The disadvantage is that if the loss is still fresh, it may trigger a few emotional responses from attending family members and friends.
3. Save Them a Seat or Build them a Memorial
This is a more common idea used to honor family or friends who have passed on but is still a lovely way to include them. Frame a favorite photograph of your loved one and decorate with ribbon, then place it in the seat that the family member would be sitting in if they were with you at the wedding or create a memorial for them at the reception venue. You can either add a short note about the person you are honoring or place a candle in front of the framed photo. That way when you look back into the audience you will have them with you in a small way. Even though the photo will be in out in public, if the seat is near the front, you and your closest family and friends may be the only ones to see it, so it can still serve as a subtler tribute.
4. In Lieu of Gifts, Accept Donation to an Organization That Was Meaningful to Them
This is probably one of my favorite ideas in this list. If you are going the route of accepting donations for a good cause in lieu of wedding gifts, consider having guests donate to an organization that was special to the member of the family that has passed on. For example, if you have a grandmother who passed away from lung cancer, you can have guests send the donations to the American Cancer Society, or if your uncle was a regular volunteer for Meals on Wheels, have guests donate to that organization in his honor. Donations are an outstanding way for your relatives to leave a legacy and your contributions will keep their memories alive with the organizations they loved or that served them.
Of course, these are just a few ideas to get you started. The grieving of a loved one is personal and choosing to remember them at this important milestone in your life honorable. Celebrate them in the way you feel would be most special to both you and them.