Losing a parent is one of the hardest things you can experience. We usually think of our parents as being a part of our biggest occasions, holidays, birthdays, and even weddings.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Ways to Honor a Deceased Father During a Wedding Speech
- Ways to Honor a Deceased Father at a Wedding During the Ceremony
- Ways to Honor a Deceased Father at a Wedding During the Reception
If your wedding day is approaching, it’s normal to feel the pain of this loss no matter how long ago you lost your parent or parents. This is especially true for the loss of a father since this is someone who plays a big role on the wedding day.
Luckily, many wedding memorial ideas can help you keep his memory close. No matter whether you’re having an extravagant, huge party or a small, intimate celebration, here are the best ways to honor a deceased father at your wedding. By including him in your traditions and service, it’s like he’s there with you in spirit.
Tip: Losing a father leads to numerous unfamiliar tasks and responsibilities. If you'd like some help sorting it all out, check out our post-loss checklist.
Ways to Honor a Deceased Father During a Wedding Speech
One of the most common ways to honor a deceased father at a wedding is to include his memory in the wedding speech. Whether you or another loved one gives a speech at the wedding, here are some ideas.
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1. Memorial poem
Poetry helps put into words the feelings and experiences that define us. If you’re struggling to find the right words to capture the loss and legacy of your father, reading a wedding memorial poem is a perfect idea.
You can read a poem you wrote yourself, a modern poem, or something tried and true. To make sure you get it right, print the poem, write it down, or include it somewhere easy to find on your smartphone. Reading this is sure to help you feel a sense of peace and togetherness.
2. Toast to him
Another option is to offer a toast in your dad’s name. By toasting to him, you encourage all of your family, friends, and guests to honor him on this special day. Better yet, enjoy his favorite drink in his memory.
3. Read a letter
For something more personal, read a letter from your father or write one yourself. Many parents write letters to their children to be read on their wedding day. Even if your father never wrote such a letter, they might have written something else that would make a good substitute.
Hearing your dad’s own words on this meaningful day can be a powerful tribute. If you don’t have anything he’s written, consider writing your own letter. Explain what he means to you and why you wanted him to be a part of your wedding. Reading this out loud to your new partner and guests is a healing act.
4. Moment of silence
A simple way to include your deceased father’s memory at your wedding is to hold a moment of silence. Taking a few moments to quiet the festivities, remember, and honor your dad might sound simple, but it can mean everything at that moment.
5. Prayer or quote
Last but not least, you can include the memory of your deceased father in your wedding speech with a prayer or a quote. Whether you find comfort in classic prayers, literature, or movie/TV quotes, sharing this with your guests in a way that honors your father is a great way to feel closer to them.
Consider quotes that were meaningful to them. A favorite TV show, movie, book, or religious work are all great places to start.
Ways to Honor a Deceased Father at a Wedding During the Ceremony
The ceremony itself is also the perfect place to honor a deceased father during the wedding. This will take a bit of prior planning, but it helps you feel closer to their memory when the time comes to say “I do.”
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6. Leave an open seat
Your father likely would have sat at the front of the ceremony, so why not reserve him a seat? Even if he’s not there in person, he is always there in spirit. Leaving a chair for him is a way to remember that he’s always there watching over you.
7. Light a memorial candle
In many cultures, candle lighting is a symbolic process during the wedding ceremony. These are usually lit to symbolize the union of two flames into one.
However, you can also light a memorial candle in honor of your father or any other deceased relatives. There are many memorial candles for weddings to choose from.
8. Write a tribute in the program
It’s common to create a program for the ceremony. This is a printed document for guests that shares the order of service, helping them follow along with the ceremony from start to finish.
To honor your deceased dad, write a short tribute for the program. This can be as simple as mentioning his name or including a prayer. For example, you might write, “The [Name] family would like to dedicate this marriage ceremony in honor of the late [Father’s Name].”
9. Walk with another trusted loved one
According to wedding tradition, the bride is typically escorted down the aisle by her father. If the bride’s dad is deceased, asking someone else to escort the bride is a powerful tribute. This could be an uncle, family friend, step-parent, sibling, the mother of the bride, or friend.
It’s also appropriate for the bride to walk herself down the aisle. This is a highly personal decision, and whomever she chooses—or doesn’t choose—to walk with her will honor her father.
10. Wear a memento
As the saying goes, you should wear something old, something borrowed, and something blue. Wearing a memento in honor of your father is a great tribute. This could be anything he’s given you, his handkerchief, etc.
11. Mention him in the ceremony
Last but not least, mention your father’s name in the ceremony. To do this, speak to your officiate before the ceremony. Let them know you’d like to honor your father’s memory.
They likely have quotes, passages, and other tributes they read in cases like this. Your celebrant is usually versed in how to remember a family member.
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Ways to Honor a Deceased Father at a Wedding During the Reception
When it comes to the wedding reception, this is typically the less formal part of the celebration. It’s a time to join together with friends and family and honor the couple in their first hours in matrimony.
12. Favorite song
Playing your father’s favorite song at the reception is a great way to start the celebration. Playing his song as your first dance or just to keep him in your thoughts is sure to keep his memory closer than ever.
13. Father-daughter dance
It’s traditional to hold a father-daughter dance at the wedding reception. Just like the escort down the aisle at the ceremony, you can ask someone else to stand in for this part of the reception.
Inviting a trusted loved one like an uncle, family friend, sibling, or mom to dance in his place helps you keep with tradition. During the dance, have your loved one share favorite memories of your dad, reminding you that he’s always near.
14. Memorial slideshow
It’s common to share a slideshow of photos, videos, and mementos at the wedding ceremony. If you’re creating a slideshow like this, include memorial elements with photos of your deceased father, family pictures, and so on. He’s a part of your story even if his time has come to an end.
15. Visit his grave
Last but not least, you might also wish to visit his grave after the ceremony or reception. You might do this the following day or immediately after celebrating. By visiting his grave, you can talk to your father directly, leave your bouquet, and share your happiness at this union.
Celebrate With Your Father’s Memory
Your father’s memory is something you’ll hold close for the rest of your life. Though losing a parent is always hard, you can still keep his memory in your thoughts during life’s biggest milestones. Including these memorial elements in your speech, ceremony, and reception with the tips above is a powerful way to feel close to your deceased father.
From including an “in memoriam” section to your wedding program to sharing a toast in honor of your father, these small things add up. Not only will it feel like he is a part of your big day, but you’ll feel his love watching over you.
Weddings are a time for joy, celebration, and togetherness. They’re also a reminder that life is short, and we have to live each moment to the fullest. Taking a few moments to honor those you’ve lost on these big days is quite the tribute.