While Covid era weddings bring their own set of challenges, one of the harder things couples navigate at any wedding is how to include friends and family who are no longer with us. We’ve seen some beautiful ways to honour these absent and much-missed lost loved ones in meaningful ways and we’d like to share some suggestions here.
While a public remembrance like an empty symbolic chair or a favourite reading can be exactly what one couple wants, for others, they prefer something that’s just for them. We’re going to offer some ideas for both preferences, and we hope they give you some ideas if you need them.
Physical and visual remembrances
There are some beautiful visual ways to show that a loved one’s presence hasn’t been forgotten. Saving a seat at the ceremony, with a note explaining who the seat is for, has become commonplace and is a lovely way to include someone who is no longer with us.
If an empty seat doesn’t feel right, a photo table might be more your wedding style. We’ve seen couples include their grandparents and parents in photo form, particularly with pictures from their weddings if they have them. Of course, this table isn’t limited to immediate family, couples may want to include much-missed friends and extended family too. Remember that it’s your wedding and you can decide who you want to include.
If you’d like to take a more low-key approach, there’s a variety of ways to do this. Try adding a charm with a photograph to your bouquet, incorporating a photograph into a groom’s tie, or sewing a wedding charm with a picture into the lining of your dress. They may seem like small tokens on the day but they can help to keep your loved one close.
Words of love
While a photograph may be an ideal way for some couples to include loved ones, other couples may prefer to remember them with words. When you’re selecting your ceremony readings, think about the ones that remind you of them. Do you know which readings they had at their weddings and would they make a good option for you? Did they write their own vows and are there any you can incorporate into your own? Starting a new family tradition can be a sweet way to honour a loved one whose marriage you’d like to pay tribute to.
If readings and vows don’t feel right, you could include them in your wedding speeches instead. Is there a favourite memory you’d like to share? A poem that reminds you of them, or a favourite story you both loved? Depending on the relationship there could even be a treasured bedtime story with a grandparent or parent to reference, a story you and your sibling grew up with, or a sentimental story you shared with a friend.
Personal and private
While some couples want to publicly include their missed loved ones, others prefer to remember them in a more individual way. There is no right or wrong way to miss people and how you choose to include someone is 100% your decision. If you prefer to remember someone in a more private way, these are some of our favourite ways to do that.
If your loved one had a favourite flower you could incorporate it into your wedding bouquet. If you’d like to extend this to all of your floral arrangements, it can be a lovely reminder of that person throughout the day.
Music can set off powerful memories so you might want to include a piece that reminds you of the person or people that you are missing. Choosing a piece of music that has sentimental associations with them to play as part of the ceremony can be a heart-warming way to include them and bring back good memories. If your ceremony doesn’t feel like the right point to add a song, there are lots of opportunities over the course of the reception to play a musical piece that reminds you of them.
Writing a letter can be a cathartic way to include a loved one on your special day. Taking a few minutes the night before your wedding to put pen to paper allows you to have some time to focus just on them. You don’t need to read this letter to anyone, it can be just for you, and your partner if you’d like. You might want to write about how much you miss them and wish they were there for your big day. Keep the letter and set it aside with your wedding memorabilia so that when you look back over the day in future you can remember that they were part of the celebrations too.
Whether you choose to remember people publicly or privately, there’s no doubt that missing loved ones can be a bittersweet part of your day. From a seat at the celebrations to a quiet moment of letter writing and reflection, we hope that some of the suggestions we’ve shared have shown that there are lots of special ways to include your loved ones in your wedding celebrations.