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Honouring loved ones during your wedding ceremony

November 27, 2019

Weddings are all about family. When families gather together, the absence of those who are missing can be keenly felt – especially if a family member has recently passed away. You can take some action that honours a missing family member privately, or recognize them in a more public fashion.

How can you incorporate a loved one who has passed away into your ceremony?

With words

Wedding ceremony text is very flexible. There are certain requirements (a question of intent to each partner, signing the legal paperwork, and an official pronouncement), but also a lot of room for making the language reflect what is important to you. Your officiant can add a few lines, a poem, or a prayer about remembering the person or persons who are being missed. There can be a moment of silence if you like. Discuss your thoughts with your wedding officiant. They can help you determine which words will work best and where they should go.

With a candle lighting

Someone can light a candle at the beginning of the service in memory of the person or persons who have passed. With the light shining throughout the ceremony, the loved one will be present in everyone’s mind. This works best for indoor ceremonies as you don’t want to risk the wind blowing out the flame.


With a reserved seat

Keep a seat near the front reserved and lay a flower there at the beginning of the ceremony. You can also place a photo of the person on the chair or use some other memento, such as hanging their jacket or hat on the back of the seat.

With music

If there is a song that reminds you of the person, you could play it during the signing of the licence, or even as you walk down the aisle. Music is associated strongly with memories.

With photos

A bride can carry a small photo of the deceased with her as she walks down the aisle. A photo and/or some words of tribute can be added to the wedding program. A photo display can also be set up at the entrance to the ceremony location. One great option is to use old wedding photos of parents and grandparents — it recognizes your heritage, whether all those family members are still with you or not.

With some other action

Couples are encouraged to think of other ways to remember their loved one. If the person was of Scottish heritage, there could be some touches of tartan (ties, pocket handkerchiefs, ribbon on a bouquet/boutonniere) as a visual cue. A grandmother’s favourite flower could make up the bouquet. A groom could wear his departed father’s cufflinks or ring.

Honouring loved ones who can’t be with you on your wedding day is respectful and can be done with a delightful and light touch. It needn’t bring the mood down. A wedding is a major memory-making occasion and it’s a wonderful gesture to pay homage to people and memories from the past.