05 Jan Empty Seats, Full Hearts – Honoring Loved Ones
When you hear the word ‘wedding day’, which words, phrases or emotions do you find most synonymous? For many, you’ll often hear ‘happiest day of your life’ or ‘the perfect day’.
Words and emotions associated with love, hope, commitment, and family no doubt ring loud and true. In parallel – and not as often discussed but figures prominently across many different families and cultures – is bereavement. While one doesn’t automatically associate bereavement with the thought of a ‘wedding day’, there are many families and cultures where this is top of mind, ensuring that loved ones who have passed remain an integral part of the day.
One of the most popular ways to honor a loved one is to have a special remembrance tied to the bridal wedding bouquet or boutonniere – or a favorite fresh flower incorporated. Over the years, we’ve adorned countless personal wedding flowers with memorable and heartfelt relics from loved ones – everything from a grandmother’s rosary beads, small photographs, military dog tags, treasured jewelry pieces, wedding bands, and hair ribbons to incorporating lace from a mother’s wedding gown or fabric from a favorite tie. We’ve also had heirlooms carefully attached to boutonnieres or sewn into either a wedding dress or suit. Wearing a piece of jewelry or cufflinks is another beautiful way to honor the memory of a loved one who has passed.
Other ways that loved ones can be honored can take place during the ceremony. Depending on the religious denomination, some ceremonies will incorporate a prayer or candlelight vigil, a moment of silence or a speech/reading. Some couples elect to share a favorite pastime, memory or simply have a seat saved in their honor.
There are also ways to include loved ones during the reception – whether it’s a place card to a saved seat or a special table memorandum with candles and photographs of deceased family members, as a way for them to be acknowledged and present. A song can be dedicated, a toast can be made with their drink of choice or a favorite food can be served. Families are able to recognize that they’re being included and although they’ve moved on to a better place, they’re still present in their hearts and memories.