Weddings are a time of celebration, but amongst all that joy can be some sadness that some important people aren't there to celebrate. This can be particularly difficult if the loss was recent or unexpected.
While the recognition of loved ones who have passed shouldn't distract from the focus of the newlywed couple, it may be important to the couple that this person or people are honoured in some way. This is both as a sign of respect for the memory of the deceased, and as a comfort to the guests who may be grieving.
Everyone grieves in different ways. Some people may not want to publicly acknowledge the loss while others may wish to include multiple references to the loved ones in the ceremony and reception. There is no right or wrong way to feel or act, below are just some suggestions should you wish to include something in your celebration.
1. A Remembrance Candle
A candle can be a lovely symbol of the presence of a loved one, regardless of your beliefs. The candle can be lit during the ceremony or simply remain burning in the background as a silent tribute to those no longer with us. You may choose to get the candle inscribed with a name, verse or quotation that means something to those closest to the deceased. You may ask several family members to light the candle together. On a practical note, if you choose to light the candle outside, ensure you put it into a tall hurricane vase and use a long lighter or matches to light it. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try the wind just won't play the game. If this happens try not to be disheartened, make a plan to light it at the reception instead.
2. A Trinket Tied to your Bouquet
If you do not want a public acknowledgement of your loved one but would still like a personal reference, you could include a special trinket on tour bouquet, tied with a ribbon. This could be a miniature photo, a piece of jewellery or a strip of clothing that remind you of the person. This way if you feel like talking about the person, you can show your family members the item which may trigger nostalgia and the exchange of happy anecdotes about the person which may provide some comfort.
3. A Photo Collection
Some couples like to display photos of family, sometimes parents wedding photos and other emotional family photos. It might be nice to display photos of lost loved ones here, close to the gift table and guest book where your guests will see them. It can be a lovely talking point to remember or muse over old photos.
4. A Sign
Sometimes a sign with a poem on is a nice way to acknowledge the deceased. This one is very touching and popular:
Those we love don't go away,
They walk beside us every day,
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.
If religion is important to the couple, maybe a verse. Otherwise, there might be a line from a favourite song of the loved one that is befitting. It doesn't have to be sad either, if there was a cheesy joke the person used to tell or a catchphrase, why not honour them with a little humour?
5. A "Nod"
You can honour those who have passed by including something in the celebrations that is inspired by the person... a "nod" to them. Maybe you could arrive in their favourite car? Wear a piece of jewellery that they left you? Choose a venue that brings back memories of them? Play a song that you listened to together? Have a dish on the menu that they used to make? A toast with their favourite drink? Include an item of theirs in the decor?
There are countless ways you can reference lost loved ones. The most important thing is that you do what feels right for you and your close family. Don't feel pressure to do anything that you don't want to; weddings are an emotional time as it is and having grief thrown into the mix can be unbearable.
Be sure to take the time to talk with those who are experiencing the loss with you and take time out during the day to reflect and compose yourself so that you can enjoy and celebrate marrying the love of your life!