Remembering absent friends

Remembering absent friends


Nottingham Wedding Celebrant

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.

Memory spotOf 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:


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. 

East Midlands Celebrant

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.

East Midlands Celebrant, Newark on Trent Celebrant, Nottingham CelebrantIf 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.


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.


Lincolnshire CelebrantIf 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.”


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.

UK CelebrantDonations 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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Wedding Celebrant

Unplugged Wedding Ceremonies

Unplugged Wedding Ceremonies


As a Celebrant, this is one of the things which I discuss with each couple in the run up to the Wedding Ceremony. There is no one way of thinking about this and it is totally up to the couple what they decide to do. Feelings range from “its fine, just ask them to turn off the ringer on their phone” to “please ask them not to take any photos before the first dance and not to post anything on social media until the following lunch time”.

If having other people’s phones, tablets and cameras in your photos doesn’t matter to you then that’s not so bad. But I do know some couples who have felt really irritated by how some friends or family have blocked the professional photographer and wish they had laid down some ground rules. However, it is best to have thought in advance about what you want and how to let people know!

Here are some tips on ways to let people know what you want them to do.

Tip 1
Ask the person conducting your ceremony to let people know what you want them to do. Something like “Andi and Billy have asked me to request that everyone puts their phones and cameras away so you can really enjoy the ceremony. Please turn off your phones or turn them to silent. Thank you for your understanding.”

You may also want them to add something about social media such as – “They also want to remind you that they don’t want any pictures to go on social media today as they don’t want to spoil anything for their evening guests. They would also like the opportunity to be the first to post a photo of themselves on Facebook as a married couple.”

Alternatively if you do want people to take photos and upload them to social media you may want the officiant to remind them of any hashtag you want them to use so you get to see them all. Even if you use some of the other ways to communicate your wishes, it is worth asking your officiant to do this. People are so used to using their phones to take pictures on the spur of the moment and sending it straight to Instagram or wherever, that they just forget!


Tip 2
If you really feel strongly about being “unplugged” let people know from the start and include it on your wedding invitation or on your wedding website. It doesn’t have to be in big font alongside your names! But somewhere at the end of the invite or on a page with information is good. Just pop a sentence or two in to let people know that your Ceremony (or even up until the first dance or all day, if that’s what you want) is “unplugged” and what that means for you.

Unplugged Wedding Ceremony


Tip 3
Put up a couple of signs at your venue to say how “unplugged” you want to be. These can be funny or formal – depending on what works best for you and your tribe. Put them at the door to the ceremony or scattered around the venue.  Signs can also include any hashtag you want people to use for any photos that they do take.

You can find some great examples of signs here.

Tip 4
Don’t start asking people to put their phones away yourself. Use your bridal party and ushers. Ask your bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, parents etc if they could just remind people if they notice people taking photos where and when you have asked them not to. Particularly if they are getting in the way of the professional photographer. They should be gentle. ???? People often just forget you want the time to be “unplugged”.

Whatever you decide, relax and enjoy your day. And if you want to see some examples of where people just didn’t get that they were in the way, have a look at this Photographer’s Blog on how people have spoiled professional shots here.



Thinking about whether or not to have a rehearsal?