If you’ve been around here a while, you already know that I treasure sentimental details and items that spark joy and invoke memories. As a joyful, sentimental wedding photographer in North Carolina, I admire the ways my couples have found to honor loved ones in their wedding.
When all your family is gathering for your wedding day, it can be a bittersweet reminder that there are friends and family who are no longer with you to celebrate this momentous event in your life. There are so many sweet ways you can honor their memory at your wedding. These are a few of my favorites. But, I love seeing my couples’ creativity in coming up with new ways to represent their significant family members. Each wedding season, I see something new!
1. Wear something of theirs.
If you have had the privilege of receiving any of their jewelry, brooches, or even their own wedding accessories, include them in your own wedding attire! If you are worried about it matching with your other accessories, you can pin it somewhere subtle such as inside a layer of your dress or the base of your bouquet. For the men, try the inside your jacket or just under the lapel.
2. Save them a seat with your family.
Traditionally, the first couple of seats at your ceremony are reserved for family. You can honor your loved ones by reserving them a seat among your family. Place a flower with a ribbon there to show the seat is taken in a simple but meaningful way. If you’d like, add a frame and write “in memory of” to allow your guests to remember this person also. Or, you can even add a framed portrait. This is so special because it places them among your family members.
3. Sew a memento into your wedding attire.
Looking for a more subtle detail? Have your seamstress stitch a heart into the inside of your dress, jacket, or underside of your tie to keep their memory close during your wedding. If you have any fabric of theirs that you don’t mind cutting (like blankets, clothing, a tie, or a handkerchief), use that for an extra sentimental touch! Carry this memory with you, even if others don’t see.
4. Pin an image to your bouquet.
You can add a brooch, small frame charm, or a locket made to display their image as an accessory to your bouquet. For the guys, you can add a brooch to the base of your boutonniere. Be careful that the brooch can pin tightly against the boutonniere and isn’t going to be too heavy and loose. It might be a good idea this on before your wedding day. I would hate for you to lose such a precious keepsake! Or, consider pinning a charm inside your jacket. This is such a special way to honor loved ones in your wedding, that you can keep forever.
5. Have them mentioned in your ceremony.
Talk to your officiant about ways they can pay homage to loved ones within the ceremony script. This can be done by sharing a loved one’s favorite scripture or poem, or lyrics from a favorite hymn or song. You can also have a brief moment of silence together in their honor.
6. Write a tribute to a family member in your wedding program.
If you are printing wedding programs and there’s someone in particular you’d like to honor, consider choosing a poem, excerpt, or verse to print as a tribute to them. If you aren’t sure what to choose, keep it short and sweet. A little note in memory of those who couldn’t join us today is perfect. For example, “in loving memory of my Aunt Lisa.”
7. Put your loved ones’ portraits on display.
This is a popular and classic option. You can create a simple display table at your reception with portraits in memory of both of your family members. Be sure that there’s space to do this tastefully and separate the display from other functions that table might be serving, though. Grabbing a cupcake from great-grandma’s memorial is a little awkward!
8. Light a candle in honor of someone special.
If you would like to take a moment of your ceremony to remember someone special with your guests, consider lighting a candle in their honor. You can do this to open your ceremony, as part of another ritual like lighting the unity candle, or towards the end of the ceremony. You can choose to say something about this person and have a moment of silence, or just light the candle with your new spouse and together know who the candle is for.
9. Honor your loved ones by including some of their favorite things.
Did Great Grandma love dahlias? Consider including dahlias in your bouquet. Did Great Aunt Lucille always cook chicken parmesan for family get togethers? Find a caterer whom you can trust with her treasured recipe. Did they have a favorite perfume? Include a bottle with your details. These nods to your loved ones can be private, or you can find ways to share with your guests the reasoning behind your inclusion of such details.
What I love about these ideas is that they’re all very simple, accomplishable, and customizable. Think about the things that made these people so special to you, and you’ll find a unique way to make them part of your wedding day. If you’re stuck, I would be happy to think through some ideas with you! Your loved ones played such a pivotal role in making you who you are. Furthermore, I know how important it is to honor and treasure them on the most special day of your life so far. I’m sure we can find the most perfect way to honor your loved ones in your wedding that will stick with you forever. Sentimental details are my favorite. I am always happy to help!
For more on wedding details, read making your wedding uniquely your own on my blog.