Sometimes the hardest part of planning a wedding is doing it without the ones we loved so much. Many couples want to honor the family members or close friends who have passed away. This can be as private as sewing a piece of fabric into your dress or jacket or as public as having a speech about them during your reception toasts. With endless options to incorporate them into your special day, here are 10 wonderful ways to honor those who are longer with us.
Reserve a seat in the front row of the ceremony or at a table during dinner. This can be marked with anything from a sign, a single white rose, or a photograph. Some couples choose to have the photographs walked down the aisle by ushers or the person’s spouse or child. You can even use something personal to mark their honorary spot, like draping their favorite jacket over the back of the chair.
Hang wind chimes at your outdoor ceremony. Every time the breeze blows, you will be reminded that their love still surrounds you. If your grandfather had a deep voice, pick a set of bass wind chimes. Many sets come with a large sail/wind catcher tag where you can write their name or have it engraved.
Put their photograph in small charms that can be worn as lockets or cuff links, attached to shoes, or tied to the bride’s bouquet. This is a subtle way to incorporate photographs of loved ones and keep them close to you. If you have an heirloom locket in your family already, this can be a wonderful “something borrowed.”
Have a floral arrangement in their honor on the altar or at the head table. Traditionally, white flowers represent reverence for the deceased, but consider incorporating their favorite flowers or colors. You can bring this to your guests’ attention with a sign, a note in your ceremony program, or having your officiant mention it at the beginning.
Schedule a moment of silence during the celebration. This can be announced by your officiant, one of the toasters at the reception, or by a surviving family member. If you have a special song that reminds you of that person, you could have your ceremony musicians play a short excerpt during this time.
Light candles before the ceremony or on your memorial table at the reception. Lighting candles for lost loved ones holds significance in many cultures and religions. These range from small tea lights set in front of photographs to a stunning candelabra that stands tall and burns bright. Since many venues no longer allow open flames, Bee Your Guest has electric votive candles and beautiful votive candle holders available to rent.
Serve their favorite dish or dessert during dinner. If you have a special family recipe, some caterers will work with you to make that available. Did your grandma make the best chocolate chip cookies? Put one in a bag with a note and set them out as favors.
Give away packets of forget-me-not seeds. These produce beautiful little blue flowers in the summer. We recently had an eco-friendly couple gave their guests local honey and wildflower seeds as favors to help save the honeybees. Myosotis laxa are the variation native to Maryland.
Set a memorial table with their photographs. While this is a very traditional way to honor those who have passed away, you can still put your own twist on it. One couple had wedding photographs from their grandparents to their older siblings next to their guest book for guests to enjoy. This is also special for the surviving spouses who are attending your wedding without their partner.
Display photographs in an alternative way! Bee Your Guest can take your treasured photographs of your family and friends and create displays in your reception space that truly makes their presence felt. Recently, we used our white ladder to display photographs next to the sweetheart’s table, adding plants and candles to tie into the reception’s decor. We also set up a photo display on top of a piano at a reception with live music being played during dinner.
Note for those who lose a loved one soon after their wedding: When my grandma passed away, my aunt took the dress she wore to my cousin Anna’s wedding and made it into a pillow. It was a bittersweet moment during the first Christmas after her passing, but it was so special for Anna to have that piece of her wedding that they got to share with Grandma.