fbpx
NEW MINI SESSIONS ARE HERE! CHECK THEM OUT

Your wedding day is one of the most joyous and momentous occasions of your life. It’s the start of a new adventure as you and your partner embark on a new journey together as one. And, of course, it’s only natural to want all of your loved ones to be right there with you to celebrate – even the ones who can only be there with you in spirit.

Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.

Remembering Our Late Loved Ones

For many reasons, a wedding is a day filled with emotions. From beginning to end, it’s a ragtag mix of joy, excitement, fear, and, of course, love. However, weddings can also be a source of grief as they become a significant reminder of our loved ones who have passed on and can’t be there in person to share the day with us. Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or close friend or relative, and regardless of whether they passed days or decades ago, it’s only natural to feel the weight of their absence more keenly on a day when their presence would mean everything. 

However, even though they may not be there physically, their spirit continues in the memories and love within us, and so you may find yourself wanting to do something special to commemorate the ones who have gone before us. Thankfully, there are many ways to honor and remember the people who have made a significant impact on our lives. 

Here are 15 beautiful ways to honor your late family and friends on your wedding day.

Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
1 5

For the Couple

We carry our loved ones with us always, even after they’ve passed. Here are a few ways to keep them close as you get ready to walk down the aisle. 

1. Wear a photo of them. 

Consider wearing a photo of your late relative as part of your wedding day attire. I once had a bride who stitched a photo of her late mother into the inside of her wedding gown along with her mother’s initials. You can also wear a locket with their photo inside or simply slip your favorite photo of them into one of your pockets. 

2. Wear something that belonged to them. 

If there’s an article of clothing or jewelry that was special to the person, include it as part of your outfit. While this could mean wearing your mom or grandmother’s wedding dress, it can also be something more subtle. At one of the weddings I’ve photographed, a groom sewed a piece of his grandfather’s favorite dress shirt onto the back of his tie. This was a beautiful and subtle way to keep his grandfather close to his heart. I’ve also had couples carry handkerchiefs or pocket squares or wear jewelry or cuff links that belonged to their relatives.

3. Add a memento to your bouquet. 

For brides, adding a memento to your bouquet is a sweet and simple way to remember someone special. Think of having your florist wrap your bouquet in a slip of lace or cloth from a favorite piece of clothing or pin a pendant from a beloved necklace to the stems of your bouquet to hold them with you. 

4. Incorporate their favorite flower. 

If you know what your loved one’s favorite flower is, a beautiful way to honor them would be to use that flower in your wedding décor. You can go all out and fill every vase and centerpiece with their favorite blooms or add one distinctive bud to your bouquet. Another idea could be to choose your flowers based on their meaning, such as forget-me-nots for remembrance or lilies for new beginnings and reminders that our passed friends and family will never be forgotten. 

Bride saving a seat for her late father at her wedding ceremony. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bride saving a seat for her late father at her wedding ceremony. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bride saving a seat for her late father at her wedding ceremony. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Bride saving a seat for her late father at her wedding ceremony. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
1 4

During the Ceremony

Your ceremony is the perfect time to plan something to honor and remember family and friends who have passed while encouraging guests to participate in the memorial.

5. Reserve a seat. 

It’s common for immediate family to be seated in the front rows of a wedding ceremony. For those who can’t be present, you can hang their jacket on the back of the chair or leave a flower, photo, or memento in their place. 

6. Hold a moment of silence. 

To include the rest of your guests in your remembrance, hold a moment of silence at the start or during your ceremony. If you would rather have something more private, you and your partner can share a moment of quiet reflection before or after the ceremony instead.

7. Share a favorite memory, saying, or quote. 

Is there something that strongly reminds you of a deceased friend or family member? Whether it’s a favorite memory of yours or a particular saying, prayer, or quote that reminds you of them, you can work with your officiant to include that as part of your ceremony. 

8. Light a memorial candle.

If you’re already planning something like lighting a unity candle, you and your partner can also light a candle or candles for the loved ones you’ve lost. For other unity ceremonies, like sand pouring or tying a knot, you can incorporate special colors in honor of their memory.

9. Include a special note in your program. 

Including your loved ones in your program is a simple way to remember them. It can be as easy as adding an “In Loving Memory” tribute in your program or something more personal like sharing a meaningful poem or message along with the names of those who have passed. 

Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
1 4

During the Reception

Although your reception is the time for fun and celebration, here are a few ways to make sure your late family or friends aren’t forgotten. 

10. Give a toast. 

If you’re planning a speech or toast to your guests during your reception, you can take a moment to also toast to your beloved friend or family member. To make the moment even more memorable, you can toast with their favorite drink in honor of their memory. 

11. Prepare a special dance. 

Especially when a parent has passed, thinking of the traditional father-daughter or mother-son dance can be particularly painful. I’ve worked a few weddings where the bride has danced with her mother, or they’ve prepared a brother-sister dance instead. Whatever you choose, these always end up being tender and cherished moments of the day.

12. Create a memory table. 

A popular way to remember your late family and friends is to create a memory table. Choose a place in your reception to set up photos of favorite portraits, memories, and moments for both you and your guests to enjoy. 

13. Play their favorite song. 

Did your friend or family member have a favorite song that they just absolutely loved? Ask your DJ or band to play it during your reception and announce who it’s in tribute to. Then you can either have a special dance between you and your partner or have all of your guests join you on the dance floor for a joyous memorial. 

Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
Wedding table set ups honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.
1 6

Before or After the Wedding

Weddings are more than just one day of your life. With all of the planning before and tying up all of the loose ends afterward, your wedding is a full season for you to plan something special to remember those who’ve gone before you. 

14. Make a donation to a charity in their honor.

As part of your wedding registry, add a link for guests to donate to a charity that has special meaning to your deceased relative. Another idea would be to put up a sign at your reception indicating that in lieu of favors you’ll be donating to a charity in your relative’s name.

15. Have a custom photo created. 

Once you receive your wedding photos, consider getting your favorite one customized by a professional retoucher to add in your friend or family member. They’ll be able to seamlessly add deceased friends and relatives to wedding photos to create beautiful and natural-looking portraits. 

Bridal wedding bouquet honoring late loved ones. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.

Weddings Featured in this blog

Weddings without your departed loved ones at your side can be difficult. No matter how you choose to honor them, you can trust that I’ll capture your memorial in a beautiful and respectful way.

Hey there! I’m Rachael of OkCrowe Photography. I’m a wedding photographer currently located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but soon moving to New York City. With years of experience in the wedding industry, you can trust me to answer any questions you may have to plan the beautiful wedding you’ve always wanted, including all of the meaningful details, such as honoring your loved ones who are no longer with us. To start planning, just head over to my contact page to get the conversation going!

Pin this blog for later! 

Share this story

COMMENTS Expand -