Congratulations on your big day! Getting married is one of life’s biggest joys and adventures. Whether you are eloping, having a giant reception, or something in between, you are sure to remember your wedding day for the rest of your life.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Bride
- Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Groom
- Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Ceremony & Reception
Not only do weddings celebrate the happy couple, but they also often include a celebration of the whole family. If you have family members or other loved ones who have passed, you likely miss them and wish they could be there on your special day. There are many ways that you can choose to include your loved ones in your ceremony, reception, or both.
We’ve put together a list of 25 ways to honor and memorialize those loved ones at a wedding celebration.
Post-loss tip: Creating a memorial at a wedding isn't the only complicated task you may be facing after losing a loved one, no matter how long it's been. Our post-loss checklist can help you figure out what to do next.
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Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Bride
Many brides dream about their wedding day, but you may not have anticipated getting married without your loved ones by your side. Here are five ways you can include them so it feels like they are with you in spirit on your special day.
1. Attach photos to your bouquet
This option is subtle and incredibly beautiful. You can use a pin or an antique necklace to attach a picture or small frame of your loved one to your bouquet.
2. Stitch something handwritten into your dress
If you have a handwritten note or signature from your loved one who has passed, you can have it embroidered into the inside of your wedding dress. Or, if you have a piece of their fabric that you love, shape it into a heart or other symbol, and make it a design element of your dress.
3. Wear something that belonged to them
For example, if your mom, grandma, or mother-in-law has passed, you might choose to wear their wedding dress or a piece of jewelry that belonged to them.
4. Hold a moment of reflection
During either the ceremony or reception, ask your guests to observe a moment of silent reflection to remember those who can’t be with you on your special day.
5. Include off-colored flowers or herbs in your bouquet
Add a white flower (or any color not already included) to your bouquet to honor your loved one, or add some remembrance herbs. Rosemary and sage are lovely options, as they smell fresh and delicious and are known for aiding memory.
Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Groom
Your wedding day is fast approaching, and you’re marrying the love of your life. If you’ve lost a loved one, here are five ways you can include them on your wedding day.
6. Light a candle
At the ceremony or reception, take a moment to light a candle to remember your loved one. This is also a wonderful time for a reading or to say a prayer.
7. Fashion a pocket square from fabric that belonged to them
You can use an actual pocket square or make one out of a dress (or dress shirt), tie, or even a blanket. If you don’t feel crafty enough to do this yourself, enlist a friend or local tailor.
8. Use their favorite drink during your toast
There’s something about taste and smell that elicits strong memories. Propose a toast to your new spouse and all of your guests, while sipping on a drink that reminds you of a loved one you wish could be there to celebrate.
9. Talk about them in your vows
Is there something your loved one absolutely adored about your partner? Honor their memory and love by writing about them in your vows.
10. Wear a watch or another memento that belonged to your loved one
Carry a piece of your loved one with you by wearing something that belonged to them as you walk down the aisle.
Wedding Memorial Ideas for the Ceremony & Reception
If you would like to include a loved one who is no longer with us on your wedding day, there are many options during both the ceremony and reception. Here are ten ideas to honor and memorialize your loved one on your big day.
11. Warm the rings
Traditionally, a ring warming ceremony is when family members and loved ones hold your wedding bands in their hands and imbue love, blessings, and well wishes. To honor a loved one who has passed, store your rings in a box that belonged to them so that they can “warm the rings.”
12. Show a picture slideshow
You can play a picture slideshow of those who can’t be there with you along to some music while guests watch. You can also have the slideshow running quietly in the background during the festivities.
13. Make sand art
Traditionally at a sand ceremony, the bride and groom each pour sand into a vase to symbolize the unity of their lives and families. To honor loved ones who have passed, you can pour different colors for everyone you’d like to include.
14. Have a poetry reading
A poetry reading can be a beautiful tribute during either the ceremony or reception. You can do the reading yourself, have a family member take this on, or ask your officiant to dedicate a poem to your loved one.
15. Play or perform a special song
Is there a beautiful song your loved one enjoyed? Maybe there’s a special song that reminds you of them.
You can play it at the ceremony as you walk down the aisle, during the service, or as a tribute to your loved one during the reception. If you are musical, make it even more special by performing it yourself.
16. Create a memorial sign
Set up a sign in memory of the special people in your life who can’t be there. This can be placed anywhere it feels right to you: the alter, the beginning of the aisle, the entryway to the reception, or even on the place card table.
You can include names, photos, messages, poetry, or even just a symbol.
17. Set up a memorial table
Reserve a special table at either your ceremony or reception. Fill it with pictures of your loved ones and anything else that will help you remember them. This is a beautiful tribute that also allows your guests to honor your loved ones throughout the day.
18. Include a family recipe on the menu
Did your loved one have a famous recipe? Is there a special meal that reminds you of them? Include it on your wedding day menu!
19. Write a note or message in the program
Honor your loved ones who have passed by including a poem or message with their names in your ceremony program.
20. Reserve a seat of honor
You can reserve a seat for your loved one who has passed away at either the ceremony or the reception. You can even reserve a seat in both places. Put a photo of them with a small bouquet to include them in your special day.
21. Display a special flower arrangement
At the ceremony or reception, have a special arrangement of flowers. For example, have a rose for each person you’ve lost.
Ask your officiant to mention the arrangement during the ceremony. Another option is to have the arrangement placed somewhere special during the reception. You can set up a small place card next to the arrangement with their names displayed. Read our guide on flower meanings if you’d like to make the bouquets extra special.
22. Propose a toast
Make a toast in their honor. You can talk about how much you miss them, how you wish they were there, or what they loved about your partner.
23. Use their champagne glasses or other mementos
Use champagne glasses that belonged to your loved one who has passed. Propose a toast to them, your new spouse, your guests, or any combination that suits you.
If you don’t have their champagne glasses, you could use their napkins, plates, or anything else at your wedding to make it feel like they are with you.
24. Light lanterns
There are several locations where you can light and place lanterns. At the beginning or end of the ceremony aisle, at the altar, or at the welcome table are all great spots.
You can have a sign mentioning your loved ones’ names and how they continue to “guide your way” or “light your path.” Check out our guide on eco-friendly lantern release ideas for more.
25. Donate a percentage of your gifts to their favorite charity
If you have a large wedding, you are likely to get cash and checks from your guests. Donate a percentage (10 percent is common) to their favorite charity or a cause that reminds you of them.
Honoring and memorializing loved ones at your wedding can be beautiful and moving, but it might also be painful if your grief feels very fresh. If including loved ones who have passed on your wedding date feels too sad for you, there are many ways you can honor their memory before or after your special day.