Remember and Honour Deceased Loved Ones in your
Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Rituals |
Whether they are present at your wedding
or not, it is natural that your thoughts will be with
loved ones on the day because they are woven into
your lives in countless ways. Including them can help
you feel close to them on your big day.
For this reason, the question of whether to invoke
memories of loved ones is a very important issue for
engaged couples, as is how to do so in the ceremony and
the celebration that follows. While it is considered
inappropriate to include deceased parents’ names on the
invitations, there are many ways to remember and
honour loved ones without impairing the joyous tone of
It is, however, essential that you consider the
emotional needs of everyone present because some people
still feel uncomfortable with the idea and may try to
talk you out of it.
Two ways to approach honouring
loved ones who have passed
There are two broad approaches you can take.
- You can include a public acknowledgement during
the ceremony or at the reception afterwards, or
- You can include your loved one in the ceremony in
a private way that does not alert the guests.
A public acknowledgement can be a loving tribute – words
spoken by your celebrant or a written acknowledgement in
your order of service (wedding program). It can be a
memorial ritual – acknowledgement of one or more loved
ones as part of your unity candle, sand ceremony, or
other ritual. It can be incorporated in the release of
balloons, butterflies, or doves, or it can be a private
symbolic remembrance. If you wish, a symbolic
remembrance may be shared with guests by a mention in
the ceremony or a few explanatory words included in your
program (order of service).
Which approach you choose, and the specific way you
choose to acknowledge those who have passed will depend
on a number of things:
- What you, individually and as a couple, feel is
appropriate to include in your wedding ceremony.
- What you, individually and as a couple, feel is
appropriate to the personality and character of the
loved one you wish to memorialise.
- How comfortable your guests will be with the type
of memorial inclusion you are considering.
- How recently your loved one passed.
- How untimely, unexpected, or tragic the
circumstances of your loved one’s passing were.
The more recent the loss, the more private any allusion
to your loved one should be. When sufficient time has
passed so that everyone concerned has come to terms with
it reference your loved ones is more likely to evoke
memories of them during their lifetime than focus on the
circumstances of their passing.
You should consult others who will be present before you
decide how to acknowledge a loved one who was also
important in their lives. You should also make your
celebrant (officiant) aware of your intention. Remember
that your celebrant (officiant) can be a valuable
If you have any doubt about how you or your guests will
react on the day err on the side of the caution, and
choose a symbolic way to remember your loved one without
overt or explicit acknowledgement. At heart, you are
doing this for yourselves, so how you decide to include
them your wedding ceremony and celebration is a personal
decision. There is no right or wrong way.
Four types of acknowledgement
There are four broad ways to
acknowledge and honour your loved ones.
- Loving Tributes
- Memorial Rituals
- Memorial Releases
- Symbolic Remembrances
A tribute involves words - spoken or
written. You can ask your celebrant to say a few words
early in the ceremony, you can include a tribute in your
wedding program (order of service) if you have one, you
can use a sign, perhaps next to a memorial candle or
photograph, or you can use something they wrote as a
A memorial ritual is a visual
representation of the act of remembering. It can be
accompanied by a narrative. Lighting a remembrance
candle, designating a chair or chairs of honour (with
sign, photo, and/or flowers), or planting a tree are all
common ways of memorialising a loved one. You could add
a memorial element to wedding ceremony rituals such as
the unity candle or sand ceremony either with words or
by using something that belonged to your loved one.
Balloon, butterfly, and dove releases
are common reflective and uplifting rituals in both
weddings and funerals. Though the intention and the
words that accompany the release differ considerably
between these two types of ceremony, a release can serve
the dual purpose of celebrating your union and honouring
loved ones who have passed. The memorial aspect needs to
be handled delicately to ensure the release remains
primarily a celebration of your happiness. You need a
skilled celebrant for this!
Where you wish to honour loved ones in
a private way that does not alert guests, the
possibilities are almost infinite. Youra can replicate
elements of their wedding, use or wear something that
belonged to them, incorporate their favourite flowers,
colours or music, attach a photograph to your bouquet or
boutonniere (small frames made especially for this
purpose are widely available), or attach a brooch or
cufflink (I had a groom who wore his mother's lovely
frog brooch instead of a boutonniere), wrap the stems of
your bouquet in one of their handkerchiefs.
Thanks for reading!