Weddings are meant to celebrate not only the couple getting married, but also the people who have impacted their lives in meaningful ways. As a result, many couples find it important to pay tribute to cherished friends and family who are no longer with us. On your wedding day, there are many ways to remember and acknowledge a loved one who has guided and supported you through life.
First, though, consider if you want to have a private tribute or one that all guests can observe. If you’re planning a more public commemoration, consider discussing it with anyone who may be sensitive to the death—like the deceased’s partner, friends, or family members—about what may be appropriate. Though your intentions may be good, it’s the most considerate approach.
If you’re all on the same page, and you’re looking for unique wedding memorial ideas, here are some creative ways to honor loved ones who have passed at your wedding:
One of the best wedding memorial ideas is to include your loved one in the wedding program. Along with details of the ceremony, include an “In Loving Memory” or “In Remembrance” note, complete with a photo, a favorite saying, or a meaningful quote. You may also decide to write a brief description of the person or how much they meant to you or your partner. The program is also where you can note any other ways you’ve chosen to honor them during the wedding.
Place their favorite flower or bouquet on an empty seat at your wedding ceremony. You may also choose to include a photo or a personal item.
Alternatively, you could set a place at a table for them at the wedding reception. Keep in mind this option may possibly trigger sorrow or sad feelings among those who see it, including yourself.
During the ceremony or reception, plan a moment of silence to reflect on the memory of those no longer with us, citing any special loved ones by name.
Raise a glass for a heartfelt toast during the reception. Or, open a bottle of their favorite drink next to a photo of them for guests to share their own toasts.
Cue up a song they liked (or one that reminds you of them) at the ceremony or for a special dance at the reception. Alternatively, recite their favorite poem or a passage from a beloved book.
Place a photo of them in a locket necklace or pin as part of your ensemble, bouquet, or boutonniere. Or, incorporate an item of theirs (like a piece of clothing, handkerchief, jewelry, or cufflinks) into your wedding-day look—perhaps as your “something borrowed” element. You could also have their name or initials embroidered onto a custom handkerchief or tie.
At the ceremony or reception, find a spot for a special arrangement of their favorite blooms or ones that symbolize remembrance (gladiolus, rosemary, or orchids, for example). Or, weave their favorite flowers into your wedding decor.
Arrange a memorial table or area in a quiet place for displaying photos and memorabilia commemorating your loved ones who have passed. Or, create an installation of family photos honoring those both alive and deceased. Even a simple display with flowers and a card saying “In memory of loved ones who are not with us today” can encourage reflection and contemplation on your special day.
A memorial candle on an entry table or near the cake display can make a powerful statement about how the spirits of those meaningful to us live on.
Include a favorite recipe of theirs on the dinner menu, or add one to the dessert or late-night-snack spread. You could also print a recipe on a small card for place settings or reception tables or fold it into the favors or welcome bags.
Bring framed photos of your loved ones who have passed and incorporate them into some photos on your special day.
Their favorite candies or treats make a sweet send-off for guests at the end of the celebration. Although it’s a small gesture, giving a special favor is a great way to remember loved ones at a wedding.
On your registry, offer guests the option of donating to a charity meaningful to the deceased. Or, make your own donation and note it on your wedding website, invitation, or program. You can also make a donation in lieu of favors.