Sign regarding lost loved ones on wedding day

Lost loved ones: 5 heartfelt ways to honour them

As we make our way through life, we lose loved ones – to illness, old age or tragedies beyond our control. Not having them physically with us on a daily basis is hard in itself. But it gets even harder when it comes to special occasions, like your wedding day. So how can you honour lost loved ones without bringing down the mood of your big day? Here are 5 powerful and heartfelt suggestions.

1. Wear an item they gave you or something that reminds you of them

If you’ve recently lost a loved one and you’re still grieving, it might be too soon to honour them publicly at your wedding. But one way to keep them close to your heart and honour them privately is to wear an item they gave you or something that reminds you of them.

Popup Weddings co-founder Kerry wore a locket on her wedding day containing a picture of her grandparents. You could do the same, or you might want to incorporate a special photo, handkerchief, or another memento into your wedding outfit or bouquet.

Bride locket with loved ones photos

2. Display photos of lost loved ones

A great way to honour lost loved ones is to incorporate photos into your big day. You might have a table dedicated to family photos, a picture album that you pass around at the reception, or a montage of old video footage. However you choose to display your photos, it’s a very special way to take family and friends on a trip down memory lane.

Image courtesy of Marcela Garcia Pulido

Image courtesy of Marcela Garcia Pulido

3. Honour them via a toast, the program, the gift list or during the ceremony

If you’ve had time to grieve, you might feel ready to publicly honour someone you’ve lost. If so, you could toast them using their favourite drink or include an ‘in loving memory’ message at the start of the ceremony program.

If you lost someone to a disease or illness, you could include an option on your gift list for people to donate to a relevant charity. Or you could dedicate a part of the ceremony to a loved one by reading their favourite poem, or walking down the aisle to a special song. That’s what Kerry did.

‘I walked down the aisle to a song my Grandad sang to me when I told him I got engaged. He was supposed to walk me down the aisle, but he passed away eight months before the wedding. Instead, two of my male cousins (who helped look after him in his last year of life) walked down the aisle in front of me. And because we’d already purchased the ties for the wedding party, I buried Grandad with his.’

Bride and groom toast with champagne

© TaniaLerro – Fotolia.com

4. Save them a seat

You could always save a seat for a lost loved one during the ceremony, decorating it with a photo and flowers in their honour. It might sound silly, but saving a physical spot for them might be what you need to feel close to them. Just be aware that catching a glimpse of an empty chair as you say your vows might set your tears off and bring up emotions you might not want to feel on your wedding day.

Image courtesy of Brady Puryear

Image courtesy of Brady Puryear

5. Have photos taken at a loved one’s grave

It might be a gesture that turns the usual wedding-day-photo traditions on its head, but one way to make sure lost loved ones are part of your big day is to have your wedding photos taken with their gravestone.

This was something Kerry chose to do to honour her dad’s parents: ‘I went to the cemetery beforehand in my wedding dress with my Dad and had pictures taken by the grave of my grandparents. I also had an extra bouquet made up with the same flowers to place on their grave.’

Bride at grave side

If you honoured your lost loved ones at your wedding, we’d love to hear how you did it. Let us know in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.

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