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ways to honor a loved one at your wedding


Ways to Honor a Loved One at Your Wedding

February 24, 2024

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It can be really tough to hold both things at once: you’re planning what should be (and will be!) the best day of your life, but perhaps you’ve recently lost someone close to you and your fiancé. How can you hold all that joy and grief at the same time? How can you honor this loved one at your wedding? 

Will your wedding be the same without them? Of course not. And I won’t try and claim it will be. But, having been a wedding photographer for several years now, I’ve seen some really thoughtful and creative displays and rituals that couples have come up with for their big day that really invites their passed-on loved ones into the celebration. 

Just as I can’t sit here and say your wedding will be the same as if they could attend physically, I also can’t tell you exactly what will work for your way of honoring these loved ones! Your relationships with them were personal and unique to you, and it only makes sense that your way to honor them would be personal and unique also.

ways to honor a deceased loved one at wedding

Considerations and Things to Remember

Do what feels right, even if it’s a bit unorthodox

I know you know this already, but it bears repeating — this is YOUR wedding, and if you have a creative idea to include your late loved ones in your celebration, you should go for it! This isn’t about impressing others or being Pinterest-ready. Try to remember that it’s about how you feel, not what is traditional or what you have to do.

You don’t have to do everything!

If there’s a tradition or ritual in your culture’s standard wedding ceremony/reception that includes a specific family member/role, and it hurts too much to try and fill that hole when your loved one should be the person doing it, it’s totally okay to skip it all together. For example, if your father is no longer with us, and it’s normally typical to have a “father-daughter” dance at the reception, you don’t have to have it at all! If it makes you feel good to ask someone else to do that part, that is awesome. But please try to avoid feeling pressure to do something that could just make you feel sad. It’s no trouble at all to ease the party to the dance floor without that transition!

You have options: how private do you want this gesture to be?

For some couples, honoring their loved one may be really public, like having a tribute on your signage or wedding’s website may feel right. But you can also try more private rituals, like keeping a photo of them in your pocket during the ceremony, or wearing jewelry your late loved one gave you on your birthday several years ago. It’s totally legit too if having a combination of more public and private feels best.

Examples of Ways to Honor Loved Ones

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some ways some of my clients have honored loved ones:

way to honor loved one at wedding memorial table
  • Memorial table either with their wedding photos or other photos of them that you love
way to honor loved one at wedding photo medallion
  • Photo medallion on the bouquet
  • Initials or meaningful symbol on cufflinks/tie clip
  • Reserved chair with a photo at your ceremony
  • Initials or quote on handkerchief or pocket square
  • Mention/acknowledge them in ceremony/speeches
  • Party and celebrate like they would want you to 😀

Have you seen a really thoughtful gesture you or another couple have done to honor their loved ones at their wedding? Tell us in the comments! 🙂 

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It's Jess!

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