How can I acknowledge a passed loved one in my ceremony?

Recently I was preparing a ceremony for a couple who were marrying in a month’s time when I received a call from the bride to tell me the groom’s mother had died unexpectedly. After much discussion with family members, they agreed that she would have wanted their wedding to go ahead and, on that basis, they decided to continue with their plans. But, obviously, they wanted her acknowledged and wondered how we could incorporate something into the ceremony. Unfortunately, this situation isn’t that unusual.

I normally suggest including a paragraph towards the end of the Welcome and sometimes that is sufficient. This is just one of many examples:

“And today, Katrina and Paul wish to honour Paul’s Mum, Ann. They are heart-broken that she cannot be with them today as she was so thrilled that they were finally tying the knot, and it’s safe to say that she would have been the proudest Mum in Australia today!”

Source: my photo

Source: my photo

And, in addition to honouring that person in the ceremony, there are more symbolic ways such as a locket carried by the bride with her bouquet. In the example referred to above, the locket had a photo of the groom’s Mum, which kept her close throughout the ceremony.

A special chair for that special someone.   Photography by    The Garage Studio

A special chair for that special someone.

Photography by The Garage Studio

Or, a vacant chair where the loved one would have sat, was chosen by another one of my couples. It may seem strange to some, but the photos above and below can’t demonstrate how much comfort that vacant chair conveyed to the couple, particularly in this instance, the groom. He felt her presence and her love and was totally at peace with it. Others have lit candles at the beginning of the ceremony and extinguished them at the end.

Photography by    The Garage Studio

Photography by The Garage Studio

There are several options and good old Google and Pinterest will give you more ideas - and one will feel right for you. It’s a fine line a celebrant treads when trying to honour a passed family member or close friend of the couple and, at the same time, not bring down the celebratory nature of the wedding. Sometimes it works well to include something fun about them to lift the vibe. Obviously this needs to be handled very carefully and, fortunately, my couples have always come to me afterwards and thanked me for my compassion.

Source Pinterest.

Source Pinterest.

Photography by    Shardey Olynyk    My bride, Ashleigh, incorporated a photo of her Dad in her bouquet.

Photography by Shardey Olynyk

My bride, Ashleigh, incorporated a photo of her Dad in her bouquet.

Source:    Carrie Ekosky Photography    via Pinterest

Source: Carrie Ekosky Photography via Pinterest

Please contact me to discuss how I can work with you to honour your loved ones. And I’d love to read about any of your experiences you may like to share in the Comments section below.

Thanks for reading and I hope it has given you a few ideas.