Congratulations on your engagement! Getting engaged and then married to the person you wish to spend the rest of your life with is one of life’s happiest experiences.
Planning a wedding is exciting, but the idea of celebrating a joyous occasion may bring up difficult feelings if you’ve lost a loved one who cannot be there on your special day. While you will mourn the absence of your friend or family member, there are ways to honor them at your wedding that can help keep their memory alive.
As you begin to think more about what you want your wedding to look like, consider how you can pay homage to your special person with the meaningful ideas below.
Leave a Seat Open
Reserving a seat for your loved one where they would have sat had they been able to attend is a subtle but significant way to include them in your ceremony. Consider saving the seat with a flower, a sign, a memento or simply leave it open for a more private option—you and your partner will know who the seat is for.
Include a Program Note
Adding a section to your program is a direct and thoughtful way for you and your guests to honor your loved one. Options include adding a poem, a story, a memory or simply listing their name. Including a photo in your program is another detail that can make it special.
Set Up a Memory Table
Setting up a memory table at your reception or near your welcome table can help you keep memories of your loved one alive on your important day. You could arrange your favorite photos of them, leave a book for guests to read and write in, or display any significant items. It may be a good idea to put up a sign with your loved one’s name and their relation to you and/or your partner.
Incorporate an Heirloom
Wearing your loved one’s heirloom on your special day is a way to keep them close to you throughout the ceremony and reception. You’ve probably heard the traditional rhyme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Wearing an article of clothing or jewelry from your loved one can be part of that tradition.
Light a Candle
Candles are a symbolic, beautiful way to honor a loved one who has passed away. You may choose to light it privately between you and your partner or integrate it into your reception more openly.
Play a Favorite Song
Music can be a powerful and emotional way to remember a loved one and keep their memory alive. Dedicating a song to someone who has passed during the reception can help you and your guests feel their presence.
Make Time for Them
Whether it’s delivering a toast or having a moment of silence or reflection, dedicating time to acknowledge your loved one that passed can make your celebration feel more complete.
Celebrating a wedding can be hard when you feel the loss of a family member or friend you thought would be there. You and your partner can decide together how you would like to honor a lost loved one during your special day.
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A wedding is just one occasion when feelings of grief may be stronger. It’s important to remind yourself there is no set timeline for grieving. We encourage you to subscribe to our weekly grief support newsletter, A Journey Towards Healing for grief support tips, helpful facts to navigate symptoms of grief and local grief support group features.
Interested in what makes each one of us unique and special. Amy says she is privileged to have the opportunity to help families and friends honor those qualities in their loved one. She has a passion for music and words, and enjoys using these tools to remember and celebrate a life.