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Wedding Traditions to Honor Loved Ones Who Have Passed

Love transcends time and space. The memories that we create with our loved ones live on long after they are gone. But how do we keep them present and a part of one of the most important moments in our lives? When remembering loved ones who have passed, consider the following ways to make their presence felt.

closeup of bride and grandmother holding hands in traditional Indian dress - remembering passed loved ones

Pooja holds her grandmother’s hand at her traditional indian wedding at The Brick House at Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

  1. Incorporate their wardrobe into yours. One beautiful way to honor a loved one is to incorporate a piece of their clothing or accessories into your wedding outfit. For example, you could wear a piece of your mother’s wedding dress. Try including a pocket square made from your grandfather’s shirt. Similarly, include their favorite flower in your own hair or bouquet. Perhaps you can even wear a piece of their favorite jewelry as a way to keep them close.
  2. Recreate a photograph. Another touching way to remember a loved one is to recreate a favorite photograph of them. This could be a photo of them on their wedding day, or simply a favorite family snapshot. You could recreate the photo with your partner, or gather your family members together to recreate the photo as a group. This is a lovely way to remember your loved one while creating a new memory with your family.
  3. Keep their photo in a breast pocket. Carrying a photo of your loved one in your breast pocket is a classic way to keep them close to your heart on your wedding day. This is a subtle but meaningful way to honor them. You can opt to have the photo framed or laminated to protect it from any unexpected tears or spills. For the pocketless, pinning a photo to your garment or bouquet is also an option.
  4. A reading in their honor. Another way to honor a loved one is to include a reading or poem in their honor during the ceremony. This could be a piece of writing that your loved one was particularly fond of, or a poem that reminds you of them. This is a beautiful way to include your loved one in the ceremony itself and share their wisdom and insights.
  5. Moment of silence. Taking a moment of silence during the ceremony is a simple but powerful way to remember your loved one. Choose a specific point in the ceremony that holds special significance for you. Silence brings about mindfulness while acknowledging the role those individuals played in your life.

  6. Table of remembrance. Setting up a table of remembrance at the reception is a beautiful way to honor your loved one. Arrange the table with photos of your loved one, along with any items that remind you of them. Be sure to decorate it nicely with flowers, candles, and other accents. This table will serve as a tribute to your loved one and a place for you and your guests to reflect on their life and celebrate their memory.
  7. Donate to a charity in their name. Making a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one is a wonderful way to carry on their memory. Select a cause that was important to them, or a charity that has a special connection to your family. Moreover, your contribution on their behalf furthers their legacy and the positive impact they have on the world.
  8. Reserve them a seat. Reserving a seat for your loved one at the ceremony is a touching way to acknowledge their presence. Place a photo of your loved one or a name card on the seat to make their presence felt. Additionally, according to some cultural traditions, you might extend this by setting aside a small meal for them at the reception.
  9. Include a written tribute in the program. Include a written tribute to your loved one in the wedding program as a thoughtful way to share their memory with your guests. This could be a short message, a poem, or a story that captures their spirit. Here is an opportunity to communicate the impact they had on your life, especially to those who may not have known your loved one. 
  10. Say a toast. Finally, a heartfelt toast in memory of your loved one can be a moving tribute that brings everyone together. You might share a personal story or anecdote about the deceased, or simply express your gratitude for the time you had together. Invite others to join you in raising a glass, and encourage them to share their own memories and stories.

In conclusion, there are many ways to honor and remember a loved one on your wedding day. By incorporating their memory in meaningful ways, you can ensure that they are always present in your hearts and minds. Whether it’s a small gesture or a grand display, the important thing is to do what feels right for you. Your wedding day is a celebration of love, and a chance to celebrate the loved ones who have helped shape the person you are today.

For more guidance on planning your wedding, read up on 10 Unique Ideas for your Ceremony and How to Mindfully View Your Wedding Photographs.

Contact Julia to inquire about your wedding.

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