REMEMBERING AND HONOURING ABSENT FRIENDS AT YOUR WEDDING
When I am planning a ceremony with a couple I always ask whether they want us to acknowledge any absent friends or family members. The people remembered in this way have included a sister who was unable to travel from Australia to the UK because of pregnancy. A grandmother not well enough to travel from Ireland. A niece and family whose Graduation was taking place that very day in the United State. And a Grandfather whose Alzheimers meant that he was no longer able to recognise members of his family.
Of course, there have also been people who have died. Some painfully close to the wedding. This is particularly hard when it was someone who would have had a key part to play, such as the father of the bride. I have heard brides say that having their father walk them down the aisle was so ingrained in their thinking that they could not see how they could get married without him there. It is tough. So, if you are facing absence at your wedding and want to acknowledge it without letting it overpower the joy of the day, here are a few suggestions:
REMEMBERING ABSENT FRIENDS IN THE CEREMONY OR RECEPTION
Take a moment to reflect early in the ceremony or in the speeches about those who are missing. Consider the role they have played in getting you to this place. It may be enough for your Celebrant or Master of Ceremonies to mention their name and take a few seconds to acknowledge them in silence.
If you are suffering a close and recent loss you may want a piece of their favourite music to be played. Or to have a reading that makes you think particularly of them. It is important to weigh up how well you think you can cope with that and then go forward with the ceremony which should be one of the happiest days of your life.
One couple drank a toast to the Bride’s father in his favourite tipple right at the start of the ceremony. Others have done that at the reception.
If you are reserving seats for special guests in the ceremony you may want to have one with the name or photograph of your absent friend or relative. (This can also be done at the reception).
If you are having an order of ceremony you may want to acknowledge them on that with a few words. “We know that A’s grandfather Jim would have loved to be with us today. He will be thinking of us in Ireland as we are thinking of him today”.
You may want to have on the menu your relative’s favourite dish e.g. Grandma Annie’s Apple Pie. Or you could name your tables with a link to your absent friend’s interests or hobbies. Such as every table named as a steam train because of the bride’s father’s enthusiasm for them.
For the first dance it might be appropriate to dance to your loved one’s favourite song.
HONOURING ABSENT FRIENDS THROUGH SOMETHING CARRIED WITH YOU
Photo charms of your loved one can be a beautiful way to feel their presence with you. A bride I know whose mother was a gifted flower arranger, carried a charm in her wedding bouquet. A locket with their picture is another lovely way of holding them near. Or wear a piece of their jewellery.
One bride had a garter made from her grandmother’s wedding dress. Another had Mehndi (Henna) put on her hands to honour her Indian grandfather who had recently died.
You could have a piece of material from your loved one’s clothing sewn into your wedding outfit.
Cuff links with photos or other symbols linked to your loved one are a good way for a groom to hold someone close. A handkerchief in a favourite colour of your absent friend or relative Can be subtly carried. Or you could carry a favourite cap or a badge from a beloved football team.
REMEMBERING ABSENT FRIENDS THROUGH ITEMS ON DISPLAY
If you would like to have something which is around all day for all to see then consider a photo wall or a memorial table. If you are having an outdoors wedding you can find a memorial spot for adisplay. It can be done in a way that is particularly special to you. Memorial tables will often hold photos but they could hold items that remind you of the person. A set of knitting needles and wool, a cigar, a favourite flower, a prize winning vegetable….
Some people have signs with quotes. Or you may want to have a candle alongside the names or pictures of the people you want to remember. It can be enough just to have the candle with a little sign. Or a card saying “Remembering those who can’t be with us today and are sorely missed.”
FAVOURS TO HONOUR ABSENT FRIENDS
These days it is possible to get all sorts of bespoke items for favours. Packets of seeds or small plants such as Rosemary for remembrance can be a way of remembering.
Donations to a relevant charity such as Cancer Research can be made. Related buttons or wristbands or forget me not seeds can be provided for the guests. (Click on the picture for the link). Auntie’s favourite fudge recipe could be used to make favours for guests or her favourite tipple in miniature bottles.
Every couple is unique and every situation will be different. But there are a whole range of things for you to consider and find something which is right for you. An early acknowledgement is important to some because they need it to be said out loud to relax. For others knowing that a candle is lit or that they carry a photo with them is enough. Find your own special way of remembering your loved ones as you celebrate and enjoy the happy occasion as they would want you to.
This sign is just one of those from Krafty Kingfisher to remember and honour absent friends.
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