I’ve met four couples in the last month that would like to honour a deceased family member in their wedding ceremony and as any of my brides and grooms would know, you can do whatever you like at your ceremony, the key is making it work well and to try and stay as far away from awkward as possible.

You are the result of the love of thousands

Here’s 12 ways you could honour a father, mother or grandparent that has passed away.

  1. An honorary seat: The seat where they would have traditionally sat could be left empty in their honour, with a flower or other symbolic object in their place. Obviously if they passed away well before the ceremony and their widow has remarried this might be too much.
  2. An honorary mention in writing: If you are preparing a program a memorial could be prepared and printed inside with a photo.
  3. A moment of observation: Inside the ceremony a moment of silence, a piece of music, the reading of a personal passage or the ringing of a bell would serve as a respectable and memorable observation of their passing.
  4. A candle or lamp: candles are generally to be avoided at outdoor wedding ceremonies because the slightest breeze just blows them out, but a flame burning in their honour is a constant, bright and touching memory of the pace they held in your life.
  5. Spoken memorial at the reception: a person familiar with the deceased that will be speaking at the reception could present a piece, spoken, visual or musical, at the reception.
  6. Items, symbols, passages or poems that are of special meaning to the deceased may serve as a tribute on a table at the ceremony.
  7. Personal touch: acknowledge to your widowed father or mother on the day that you also miss the deceased parent, give them a hug and spend a personal moment with them acknowledging that your wedding day is missing someone very special to both of you. A written note in this theme might also be right.
  8. Wear a piece of clothing, or cloth, or jewellery, that was theirs. My wife, Britt, had a handkerchief of her Nanna’s sewn into her wedding dress. It was a very special, personal, and secret way of Britt acknowledging that she wished that her Nanna could have been there.
  9. Culturally remembering: your family’s culture or traditions may come with a beautiful and special way of remembering loved ones that have passed away. Native American writer, Linda Hogan, wrote this short but beautiful passage that could be read at your ceremony, acknowledging not only their life but the ancestral love that has brought all of us to this moment “Walking. Walking. Today I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be Still. They Say. Watch and Listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
  10. In song: one of the musical interludes of your ceremony could include or feature a song, musical performance or piece that reminds you of them, or that they loved.
  11. A simple line in the ceremony might suffice. Something like “Today we honour those who could not be with us, especially the bride’s stepmother Alison Janet Brooks.”
  12. Walking down the aisle: If the deceased was your father, or uncle perhaps, that was going to walk you down the aisle you could walk without anyone as a silent but loving way of showing that you miss them and their place in your life cannot be replaced. Or on the same note, your mother, or another family member walking you down the aisle can also comfort you in that time when they would have been there.

Join the conversation below with any of your ideas on how a deceased loved one could be remembered and honoured at a wedding ceremony.