When an important person in your life isn’t able to attend your wedding, it can be hard. Whether it’s because they have died or are unable to travel to your wedding, you may be considering ways to acknowledge them. If so, what is the best way to do so, and how?
To Acknowledge or Not?
This is something that only you can decide, but in my experience, acknowledging a person who is notably absent can address the elephant in the room.
I conducted a wedding where the brother of the groom had passed only recently. The groom wanted his absence acknowledged in the ceremony and so I said ‘Dave, has asked me to acknowledge his little brother, James, who I’m sure is in many of your thoughts today. Although James is not here, it does feel like he’s looking on, and probably having a bit of a laugh seeing Dave all suited and nervous. Although his absence is felt deeply, think of him with a smile, and imagine him taking full advantage of the free bar and throwing a shape or two on the dance floor later on.’
After the ceremony, the groom’s parents came and spoke to me. They explained that they were so grateful that James had been acknowledged, and had been worried that the whole day would go by without him being mentioned.
At another ceremony, the bride’s grandmother was too poorly to travel. The relationship between the two of them was very close, and she explained to me that her grandmother had had a dream where the bride had married in olive green which was her grandmother’s favourite colour. I suggested that I wore one of my frocks which was in this colour, and during the ceremony I explained I was wearing this specifically in honour of her. The bride loved this idea, and sent her grandmother an extract of the ceremony where this was mentioned.
However, acknowledging someone with words may feel too upsetting, and there are other ways of doing so.
Whether you have a photo of your loved one somewhere near the ceremonial area or chose to carry a photo in your bouquet or pinned to your jacket, having a photographic reminder can be a wonderful way of feeling as if they are close by you throughout the day.
Their Favourite Thing(s)
A fun inclusion could be serving your loved ones favourite drink or food, or making something from one of their recipes. Alternatively, you could have one of their favourite songs played or, if the lyrics work, read by a friend or family member during the ceremony.
Whether it’s a fragment of your loved one’s wedding dress, his favourite tie, a hand-written note, their names embroidered into your dress, or a piece of jewelry or cuff-links worn, this can be a subtle, yet memorable way of including them in your day.
I also love this idea of creating a kilt pin with specific items and wearing this somewhere on your dress or suit.
To see how to make these, check out Something Turquoise.
Whether it’s lighting a candle, placing a flower which has significance to the deceased, or using materials from a wedding dress in a handfasting, there are existing rituals that you can tweak or utilise as is to acknowledge absent guests.
You may want to leave a seat for your loved one, either within the ceremony area, or in a more discrete area, such as under a tree with one of their favourite flowers or a bottle of their drink so people can go and have a private moment and remember them.
Sadly my husband’s brother passed away only nine months before our wedding. His absence was on all our minds in the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself. However, we had a very happy day, and it was the first time many people who had been at his funeral were together again. Although there were tears, there was much celebration of him and of us.
Please feel free to chat to me about any of these ideas. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478041227