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Dearly Departed: Honoring the Deceased at Your Wedding

Weddings are inherently joyous occasions. Two people who love each other have agreed to spend their lives together, and of course this is cause for celebration. The one thing that can make a wedding solemn is realizing who is not in the room as the bride and groom say, "I do." 

Whether it be a grandparent, parent or just a family friend, a wedding can be bittersweet if you can’t stop thinking about the people who didn’t live to see your special day. It is an issue many couples have to deal with when planning a wedding, and finding the right way to honor departed loved ones is far from easy. Honoring the deceased is a touching way to show that they’re not forgotten, and recognizing that their spirit is still there, celebrating your wedding with you.

If a loved one has passed away, there are many ways they can be remembered and honored at a wedding.

Consider the personality of the person you want to remember and think of a way to honor them in a way they would have enjoyed. Did they enjoy being the center of attention or were they happier out of the spotlight? If you think about the relationship you had with that person it will help you decide how to remember them in a fitting way.

One simple but touching way to remember a deceased love one is to wear a piece of their clothing. For a woman, this could be a beloved grandmother’s wedding veil or an aunt’s necklace. You could also carry a memento like a photo charm attached to the bouquet. A man could wear his grandfather’s tie or his father’s wedding suit. It could even be as small as a cufflink for a man or a ring for a woman. Wearing something a loved one once wore will help you feel closer to them as you celebrate the day.


Placing a memorial chair at the ceremony for people who have passed away is a touching way to remember the dead. This could be in the front row, where your family is sitting. There could be a small plaque, or simply just a note, that says ‘Reserved for those we have lost.’ This is a subtle but powerful way to keep in your heart those that you loved and are no longer with you.

You could also make a small announcement about the deceased person to show you are thinking of them. This could be said by the wedding officiant before the ceremony starts. This will give you a moment to think about your loved one before beginning the official wedding ceremony. You’ll be able to mourn quietly for those few moments before the day begins. One possible way to remember them is by having a quiet moment with your guests:

"We wish to pay tribute to family members and friends who are no longer with us, but whose gifts of love and compassion will always be remembered and cherished. We are certain they are here today in spirit. In their memory, let us be silent together for a moment."

During the reception you can pay tribute to lost loved ones. You could get your band or DJ to play the deceased person’s favorite song. It's up to you if you want to draw attention to this by announcing why the song is being played and what it means. But, you also don’t have to tell anyone who the song is for and you can let the moment pass by quietly. Those who knew the person will understand why the song is being played and share in that quiet moment with you.

Finally, you could recite a poem or a passage that reminds you of the person that you love. This could be done either at the wedding ceremony itself or the reception. The poem or passage could be something the deceased person loved, or simply something that embodies their spirit. If you’re really feeling the missing presence of the person, this is a good way to make it feel like they’re there with you.


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