Honor Deceased at a Wedding

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 How to Honor a Deceased Loved One at Your Wedding


Urgent Question: FEB 7, 2013

My wedding is in 2 months. This week, one of my bridesmaids passed away. Should I still list her in the program as a bridesmaid, and still leave her spot empty? I don’t want to replace her, and her whole family lives 8 hours away so I couldn’t get one of them to fill in as was suggested earlier. And is it too much to do a moment of silence or prayer for her during the ceremony? I don’t have the slightest idea how to handle this.

If you can help out this bride, please post your comments, suggestions, thoughts or advice in the comments section at the bottom of this page – scroll down to the bottom…


Question: Five months ago my dad whom I was extremely close to passed away at the young age of 42. I am looking for a very special yet unique idea as to how to honor him at my wedding. Any suggestions would be of great help because I am not sure what to do when one of the most important people that is supposed to be at the wedding is not going to be there. I am 22 years old if that helps with the ideas, and he was my best friend. Oh, and what about the father-daughter dance?  Thanks ~ Erica

SWAnswer:  Its wonderful that you are intending to honor your dad at your wedding in order to make him a part of your day, and to serve as a reminder that his spirit is there with you.

1. For starters, you’ll want to mention his name on your wedding invitation (example: Erica, daughter of Mrs.__________and the late Mr.________ ).

2. You might want to include a framed photo of him at the guest sign-in table at the reception to honor him and keep him remembered on the bid day.

3. Mention him in your after-dinner speech (if you intend to make one).

4. Make an “In Memory of” notation in your wedding ceremony program (towards the end) and include a brief one or two line verse about how athough he is no longer here in physical form, his presence remains with you, or something equally appropriate.

5. If he passed away of a particular cause, you might want to make a donation in each of your guests names to support the cause instead of giving away traditional wedding favors. Give each guest a printed piece of paper that says, “In Memory of ______________, a donation has been made to the American Heart Association in your name”. (There is whole article about this concept here: The Kindness Trend in Weddings)

In regards to the father-daughter dance, keep in mind that not every bride does this at her wedding. Today, there are plenty of brides out there who didn’t grow up with fathers in their lives, for one reason or another, so they simply eliminate the daughter-father dance. But if you prefer, if you have someone (older brother, favorite uncle, godfather, etc) who you feel is worthy of stepping into your dad’s shoes on his behalf for the dance, you could ask them to do the honors, and just have the MC or DJ make mention of this when it is time for the dance. This again will help keep your dad’s memory alive throughout this important day.

Other Couple’s Ideas for Honoring the Deceased at a Wedding:

In honor of…
I have been struggling with this also. My Future Husband’s parents have both passed away… and while I don’t want our wedding to seem like a funeral, I want to honor them in some way. Thanks for any help you can be.

It is a lovely idea to remember and honor those who have passed. I know what you mean about not wanting it to seem like a funeral. I think that if you put the right amount of thought into it, you can walk that fine line that allows you to keep the day joyful while remembering those who are no longer with you. It doesn’t have to be morbid in anyway. Just make subtle references to your departed loved ones here and there, while keeping the mood joyful. If I come up with additional specific ideas, I’ll post them here.

I’m sorry for your loss. My suggestion, which I am doing to honor my grandfather, is where he would be seated during the ceremony place a basket of flowers with a card that says “This seat is reserved in the memory of Mr. ______”

Now THAT’S a nice idea. Thank you for suggesting that – I think I may have to steal that one. That’s probably the best suggestion I have ever heard for honoring a deceased loved one at the wedding. Appreciate it.
No a problem, many people I have talked to love that idea. Its the best way to honor someone in your own little private but public way.

I am having 3 candles placed near our unity candle (my mother passed in June of 2006,  his Grandma and Great Grandma are passed as well) so we can light them before the ceremony. I am also having them personalized with their individual info on each one. Then after the wedding we are having people take them and place them at the cematary.

Deceased Mother/ Grandparents
I am a bride going through my 2nd marriage ( 38 years old ). I want to do something UNIQUE but special to remember my mother and Grandparents at our wedding. Does anyone have anything that would be UNIQUE?
Remembering loved ones
Here’s a nice idea… Instead of throwing your bouquet to the single gals at the wedding, have your bouquet placed on grandma’s resting place after the wedding. If you want you can announce at the reception that you will do this in place of the bouquet toss, or you can just do it without making any mention about it.

Honoring a deceased love one
That is a great suggestion. However when my sister got married, her bridal bouquet had all white flowers except for 2 lavender roses, and those were put there because of our mother and grandmother that are deceased. Then after the wedding ceremony she and her new husband went to the cemetery and placed them at the graves of our mother and grandmother. That might be something that I do seeing as I have two grandparents that are deceased along with my mother. But keep the suggestions coming. I am looking for something different and unique.
Honoring loved ones
At my wedding next year we’re having a member of each side of the family walk down the aisle with forget-me-nots to be placed on each side of the alter for my grandpa and my fiance’s dad.
At my wedding I had a item in my bouquet from each person I had lost, a hankie, a pin they wore, a cross, a golf tee, an ink pen, just something small that was theirs and would make me feel like a part of them was with me, that most people did not even notice.

Honoring deceased loved one at wedding
We lost our 1 year old daughter almost two years ago and its been devastating but we have stayed strong to each other and are getting married in a year (destination wedding). I’m trying to think of ways to incorporate her into the ceremony. Most of the other ideas are nice for older family members, any ideas?
Here’s a really sweet idea that I saw somewhere here at SuperWeddings, but now I can’t find the exact page. Anyway, you create a beautiful ‘memory bouquet’. You take a flower pot and dress it up pretty. Place floral foam inside the pot, then insert bamboo skewers into the pot so they shoot up out of the pot in a natural formation. Now tape the backs of photos of your loved one onto the sticks, and then place the arrangement somewhere prominent. For example, you can have it at the altar for the ceremony, so you feel like your loved one is with you and is part of it, and you can also place the arrangement at the guest sign in table at the reception, or place it next to the wedding cake, or where ever you feel it makes sense. This is a beautiful way to make your loved one part of the celebration, and to keep their memory present. Hope you like this idea – check through the pages here at superweddings if you want more details because I saw it here somewhere!

04 May 2007 by Eva
Honoring a loved one
Love the suggestion so far for all the honoring a loved one. Another great suggestion I came across is a small photo frame in which to place a photo of the person you want to remember and attach to your bouquet. This is especially great for father’s – makes you feel as if they are walking down the aisle with you (at least I hope it feels this way). I’m getting married in 4 months and lost my father 3 years ago although it seems like yesterday and plan to do this. And also now I’ll add many of the other great ideas I found on this website. I’m considering putting something in the programs that honors my father but haven’t figure out exactly what to put yet.
Bouquet Photos
I was married 9 months ago and I did not have my father there to give me away so I know exactly what your going through in your thoughts and feelings. However I have also lost a brother, three nephews and a niece. So on my wedding day, because these are the angels I pray to and believe they brought the love of my life to me, I had a love dedication ceremony thanking them for their love and guidance by bringing us together and forming a love match made in heaven. I had photo’s of my loved ones enlarged and mounted on gold cardboard with the words ALWAYS WITH US. I had small photos made, a little larger than the size of a postage stamp and attached them with ivory and gold ribbon to my bouquet. It was very special and precious to, not only myself, but all of my family and especially my mother. Dad did walk with me down the isle, attached to my bouquet for all to see.
Remembering loved ones on your bouquet.
I am getting married in August and my dad has been deceased since April 2005. It seems as if it was yesterday. I am very proud to be his daughter and I would like to add this idea to my special day.
Honoring the deceased
I am in the midst of planning my wedding. It too is very important that I include my late grandparents and dear friend “my other grandma” in our celebration. I have decided to have black and white pictures of them in their younger years and with myself at our reception with a lit candle near by with a little saying. I will also be baking my grandmother’s cookies to have out for our guests along with copies of  her recipe. I get choked up thinking about our big day without their smiling faces and I feel that baking a couple of days prior will help calm my nerves and make me remember happier times with them. We are going to speak with our officiant in regards to saying a few words in their honor during the ceremony as well. I am a softy and figured the cookies are light-hearted and will even out the tears at the ceremony!

Remembering loved ones on my bouquet
I did the photo in the bouquet idea too. Everyone loved it and I have had two weddings in my family since mine and both have used my photo’s.
Honoring family lost
I lost my dad 5 years ago and to remember him at my wedding I am also having his photo in a frame tied into my bouquet. I am having his brothers and sisters stand in for him to give me away along with my mother. I am playing his favorite song and will invite everyone to get up and dance to it as the second song that they will play in place of the father daughter dance (it is Meatloaf “Paridise by the Dash Board Light” so I know it will be fun!). I am also having an entire table set up covered in pictures of all the people I love that are no longer here. I am including my soon to be husbands family and mine with a “Reserved for those who could not be with us today” sign.
Loved ones
The website for the memory bouquet frame is thefrontdoor.com -m they have a lot of great memory ideas including roes that you can have made up with pictures on them.
In Memory Ideas
I lost my father in December and I’m in the middle of planning my wedding. The thought of not having my father there to give me away and dance with is devastating… but I too am having a Memory Bouquet Frame (so he will be with me while I walk down the aisle) and for the second song I’m asking everyone to join my husband-to-be and I on the dance floor to dance to The Four Tops – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” because my dad used to sing it to me when I was a little girl! It’s a happy song and when the DJ announces it, I think it will lighten the mood while being able to mention my Dad at the same time. July 12, 2007
Suggestion and Request for Help
My father passed away 16 years ago (I was only seven but extremely close with him). For my March wedding ceremony I am having a single rose in the pew where he would sit, and a memory candle placed on the altar with his name on it. My mother remarried 6 years ago (they dated for four years prior to their marriage). I am very close with my stepfather (but do not call him dad out of respect for my father). I am having my mother give me away, but plan on dancing with him for the father daughter dance. Any suggestions for a song. (My mother started dating him when I was a freshman in high school so he really wasn’t there when I was a child ‘growing up’). Any ideas?

Unfortunately I have lost both of my parents as well as grandparents, a child, and my fiance lost his dad as a child. We are 33 and I have 2 boys from my previous marriage who will be walking me down the aisle as well as being part of the family circle ceremony. Because we have lost so many loved ones in our life I found (Rexcraft) a memorial flower bud vase that just simply states “In memory of those who are not with us today, but in our hearts forever”, with a single rose bud to be placed on our guest book table.
Who will give me away?
My father passed January this year, I am due to get married next November. I have no idea who to ask to give me away. I have an older brother (I will be 26, he will be 40). But he is just slightly un-reliable, and I think the after dinner speech will be hard for him. I have my uncle, he has no girls. This would be his only chance to do this at a wedding. Any ideas would be great.
Honoring a loved one
I had a hard time deciding who was going to walk me down the aisle too. My dad had 3 brothers all of which I am very close. In the end I choose to have my mom walk me down and my uncles stand up and answer for my father so there were no hard feelings. I think that you should go with whom ever you are close with and include the others in a special way.
Who will give me away?
My mother proudly walked me down the aisle and gave me away. My 6 brothers all said a combined speech on behalf of my father and mother (job normally done by father of bride). My god father said a speech to my mother from all of her children that we all co-wrote together. We just put on paper a little memory or a special thanks to mum and dad from each of us and also we made her aware of our praise for her strength in dad’s passing. Something that is not often said, but is nice to hear. Mum was so happy because I made the day not just about my husband and I getting married, but also about her and her love that she has so effortlessly shown to us over our lives. Have a beautiful day and don’t stress too much about the material things because it is over so quickly and the memories of actions last so much longer – not just for you, but your guests and loved ones too.
Lost a brother in law in the Iraq war
Back in March of 2005 my brother in law was killed in Iraq. He was my best friend in this world. I am having my wedding in my sister’s back yard, which was his backyard. Does anyone have any unique ideas on how to honor a brave soldier in my wedding. I feel he needs to be there with me. He would have been so proud of me, and who I have chosen.
Honoring Daddy
My father passed away unexpectedly 2 months ago. I’m getting married in 8 months on my parent’s anniversary. I am fortunate enough to have 2 older brothers who are also like dads to me, but no one can ever replace my Daddy. I was going to have my brothers walk me halfway down the aisle to my father, and have my brothers follow my daddy and I and stand behind him as he gave me away. I can’t imagine how I’m going to get through that day now, or how I’m going to be happy without him there at this point, but I’m hoping it gets easier. Anyway, I’m going to have my brothers still walk me halfway down the isle, and then I’m going to have them walk behind me the rest of the way. In the programs I will write that I’M STILL BEING WALKED DOWN THE ISLE BY MY DADDY (in a more eloquent way, of course). I’m going to have his picture in my flowers, and a candle on the alter for him. Whenever I would picture my wedding, the father daughter dance was always a huge part of the dream. I’m going to dance with my husband for our first dance, but when the time comes to have the father daughter dance, I’m going to have them play “I loved her first” by Heartland, in memory of my Dad, and I’ll dance with my husband to that song. Anyone, please let me know what you think about these ideas. Thank you!

My fiance and I will be honoring the memory of our grandparents via a statement on our programs. Both of his were married when they died and my paternal grandparents were as well, so we are listing them as Mr. and Mrs. ____ ____. However, my grandmother on my Mom’s side died when I was a baby and my grandfather remarried. He has since passed and I don’t know how to word it for the both of them. So I list them separately…i.e. Mrs. _________ ________ and Mr. _____ _____ or do I list them as Mr. and Mrs. since he only remarried due to her death? As a side note, the woman that he remarried is still living but is no longer a part of my life and will not be attending the wedding (nor was she invited).
Honoring Loved Ones
There are some wonderful suggestions in here, ladies. I intend to incorporate some into my own wedding in 7 months. My beloved father died at the age of 42 when I was twelve. I am now 49 years-old and marrying my best friend’s older brother! I’ve known him for 35 years and never even knew he was interested in me until my husband (of twenty-five years) kicked-me-to-the-curb for another woman. You know the story… as if that wasn’t enough, my wonderful 19 year-old son was killed a few months later. My heart was (is) broken. But God is good and sent Gregg to rescue me! Now, I want to honor my beloved dad and my cherished son! All ideas are appreciated. My other dilemma is this… I have seven brothers… all of whom not only participated in my upbringing, but who were by my side within an hour of my son’s death. I wouldn’t have made it without them! How can all seven brothers give me away? The church is very small.

We placed two roses at the altar in memory of my husband’s father and also my brother. During the ceremony we both took a rose and handed it to our parents and told them this is in honor of Jerry (my brother) and Richard said to his mom this is in memory of Dad.
We also printed it in the wedding programs what the flowers were for. So everyone even those in the back pews knew what we were doing up front.
Program wording for deceased relatives
I am trying to word my ceremony programs. My father passed away 10 years ago, to whom I was very close. Both my grandfathers and one grandmother as well as both of my future husband’s grandfathers are no longer with us. I want to include all of these loved ones in my program, but obviously want to signify/symbolize how important my dad was especially. Any suggestions?
Honoring deceased loved ones at my wedding
I have read all of your suggestions, and they are all really great. My fiance lost his father about 10 years ago due to cancer, we lost a mutual friend 6 months ago due to a heart attack, I lost my grandmother a little over a year ago, and my mother fie months ago to lung cancer. I think I am going to frame a photo of each one of them, either a 5×7 or 8×10 size, I am going to inscript our names and wedding date on the frame and also put something like “You will always be with Us.” And maybe put it at a table close to the door of the reception, or maybe the church as well, not sure.
Wedding Favor honoring deceased parent
I have found a great site that allows you to donate to The American Cancer Society and in return they give you a wedding favor with a beautiful tribute to the deceased.
Sorry for your loss
I am 48 and heading into my second marriage this December. I have found memorial candles, and poem cards for those that were close to me and are now gone. I will put the candles with their names on it on heart shaped candle holders. I am going to place these on a separate table. I was wanting something to remember them at my wedding, and was so pleased to find these.
Honoring our son at our daughter’s wedding
My 31 year old daughter just announced her engagement. She will be married on the beach here on Vieques where my husband (her father) and I now live. We lost our son in a car accident 8 years ago. We’re so very happy for our daughter but I can’t help feeling so sad that our son won’t be here. Since his death, I’ve left his initials on every beach that we’ve visited, on mountain tops and everywhere else we’ve traveled. (Lighting a candle on a beach is difficult). I want to remember our son on the day of the ceremony. The wedding will be very small with only parents and a few friends in attendance. Would his initials on the sand be inappropriate? Maybe with a basket or spray of flowers? Any other suggestions? Thanks so much for your help.
I lost my dad 3 years ago. I am getting married in a few months. I got the picture in the bouquet idea and I love it. I am going to have my friend sing a song in his honor, and then maybe have everyone wear a ribbon in his honor. I am not sure though… what do you think?Does anyone know where I can get “in memory of” ribbons? Kind of like the ones they have for the cancer society, etc. What song does anyone suggest for the father/daughter dance? I liked the idea of dancing to something with my future husband. I’ve always like the song by Luther Vandross… “Dance with my father”, but I don’t want it to seem like too much. So I don’t know. My brother, the next best thing, will be walking me down the aisle.
Speech on behalf of a mother
My brother is getting married next month in Melbourne, (we are from NZ) and me being the only girl of the family (and youngest) I feel it would be nice to say a few words on behalf of our mother who passed away 18years ago. I’m stuck on what to say, even how to start it.Ii don’t want to be crying before I say my first word either. There won’t be that many of our family there, but a lot of the bride’s family, which we haven’t even met. Please, any suggestions I would appreciate.
Honoring deceased loved ones
I was in a beautiful wedding last year in which the bride had lost her father only a few years before, and the groom lost his brother less than a year before. She was walked down the aisle by her brothers, and given away by her mother. During the father daughter dance, she danced with her mother, and then with each of her 2 brothers. The groom’s sister, other brother, niece, nephew, and brother in law where all in the wedding party. To include the departed family members, a chair was placed near the alter, with a vase with two roses in it. The vase was etched with the names of her father and his brother. Later, during the reception, this vase was placed at the head table with the rest of the wedding party. The pastor said a brief word to honor the two. It was touching, not at all morbid, and there was not a dry eye in the chapel!
During a wedding that I planned (I’m a wedding planner), the grandmother walked a candle up the aisle and placed the candle on the altar, lit the candle and allowed it to remain lit for the whole ceremony, then removed the candle at the end of the ceremony and placed it on a special table at the reception hall alongside a picture of the individual. The candle had “In memory of ___”.  The candle represented the groom’s grandfather. It was a nice way to include that family member’s memory in the festivities. I am truly sorry for your loss. I hope this helps.
What should I do?
My best friend was supposed to be in my wedding next year. She was killed recently in a car accident and I can’t seem to get over it. I miss her so much and I want to do something for her at my wedding. I know she’ll be there with me in heart and spirit. I’m searching for something to do but all I read about is honoring a family member at a wedding. Any suggestions?
When your friend can’t be there
Sorry to hear about your best friend – you will miss her a great deal during the preparation for your wedding. I know that many of the suggestions here are about finding a way to remind the guests at your wedding of how special someone was to you. I wonder if you can do this by thinking about what would make your friend pleased if she was here to witness it. I am especially wondering if there is someone special in her life who is grieving and who might find it healing to take her place in your wedding in some way – for example it might make a difference to her mother to make a special contribution to your wedding, or does she have a sister who could stand in for her on the day? Not only would this honor your friend and provide a chance for you and others to heal together, it would be a powerful reminder to everyone involved in your wedding that she is missing. Given the stress of planning a wedding you will need to be wise in how you approach this, but you may find it is a helpful idea.
 I feel for you. It is hard to lose a parent and the pain is particularly felt at special occasions such as a wedding. Here are some ways I can think of about honoring your dear dad:- Walking along the aisle with your dad’s favorite relative/ friend
– Dancing to his favorite music or incorporating his favorite song in the ceremony or reception
– Acknowledging his part in your life during your thank you speech at the reception
Do you have an idea for honoring the deceased at a wedding? Please share it by leaving a comment. All comments are welcome.

10 thoughts on “Honor Deceased at a Wedding

  1. I lost my Mom 16 years ago today and my Dad died last April, just 4 months before my wedding. My husbands parents have also both passed on. So at our wedding here is what we did: we were married outside and the altar was under a canopy. Under that canopy with us we had two chairs behind me, two behind him left empty. After I walked down the aisle and before we started the ceremony, i put a white rose on each chair for my parents and my husband did the same for his. To acknowledge their presence and how much we loved them. It was very well received.

  2. My wedding is in 2 months. This week, one of my bridesmaids passed away. Should I still list her in the program as a bridesmaid, and still leave her spot empty? I don’t want to replace her, and her whole family lives 8 hours away so I couldn’t get one of them to fill in as was suggested earlier. And is it too much to do a moment of silence or prayer for her during the ceremony? I don’t have the slightest idea how to handle this.

    1. Sara Willie says:

      Hello. One of my bridesmaids passed away recently too, matter-of-fact, we laid her to rest last week. I’ve discussed this with my wedding planner, and even though my wedding isn’t for another 7 months I do not want to replace her. I have been told it is best not to fill the spot and although it seems “empty” really it isn’t. Yes we are going to still have her name in the program just as if she were there.
      I’ve asked her family to come to the wedding.

      This isn’t my first marriage but at the funeral I visited with her mom and she told me that no matter what, my friend had stood by me when I married the wrong man and was looking forward to standing by me when I married the right one!!! I don’t know if this helps you.

      1. Rev Robert Joy says:

        By all means mention your Bridesmaid at your wedding. I’ve always believed that just because the person has left this world and we actually are unable to see the person, that they are still there with us.

  3. Jon M Photography says:

    I am sorry to hear about your loss. As difficult as it may be to lose your friend, the answer to your question is very easy. Just follow your heart on this, stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, what is right and wrong as far as a wedding goes, and just do what you know is right. If you really want to honor her then do it, no one elses opinion should matter, if you want to do the moment of silence you should do it. No one here knows how important or close she was to you, only you do. Ive worked at countless weddings and they are all different, some are traditional and stick to script, some seem to make it up as it goes. Theres no real right or wrong answer on whether its ok to do any of it, so you just need to do what your heart tells you, what ever that decision is will be the right one and no one will say anything negative about it.

  4. Teresa Dyer says:

    You could * next to her name in the program, write In Memorium at the bottom,and leave her in the program and have one of the other bridesmaids place a single rose in the spot where your friend would have been standing.

  5. sarah koski says:

    personally i would do a moment of silence for her and put a beautiful picture of her were she would have been at the ceremony as well as the reception!

  6. sandie george says:

    On the bridesmaid that passed away, I would honor her by lighting a candle in her memory and and have a special bouquet with her name and any other remarks you would like to make beside the bouquet. I would then see that her family received this bouquet. I am a wedding planner for 26 years and yes I had a similar thing that happened just before the brides wedding. The bride had a special candle made up in her memory.

  7. maria ruth moreno says:

    If she is and was a dear friend to you, leave her name on the list on the chair assigned to her. I’d rather not replace her during the wedding to pay respect and to keep the memory. Just let it be that she’s there, part of the entourage.

  8. my soon to be husband and I lost my father and his mother within the past 4 years. Both where great leaders in
    our family, and dear to our hearts! In memory of them we will ask all wedding guest to light a candle and two
    chairs will be placed on dance floor with their photos and a candle each will be placed! we found and incredible
    song to play for 2 minutes that I feel will honor both! Yea it will be a sad moment for everyone, but it will also
    reflect the love and memories no other person could make. I could not just delete both dances from wedding, or
    replace parent with another!!

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