People are getting married later in life than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Because of this, there are often dear relatives the couple would have loved to have been present at their wedding, but who are no longer alive. Sometimes the couple would like to remember them at the ceremony but not in a way that saddens the others present.
Here are a few ideas of how you can remember your loved ones at your wedding:
At the beginning of the ceremony, you can light candles to represent those who are missing. You leave the candles burning throughout the ceremony to witness the ceremony in their stead. Either you or the officiant can say a few words like “Sam and Julia are so happy to have you here with them today. They wish that their grandparents could have been here, too. These candles represent them at this ceremony.”
If you are including an acknowledgement of your parent(s), you can mention relatives who have died in what you say to the parent(s). If you present flowers to your parent(s), you can also lay a flower on a small table and just say a word about who it is for. If you are speaking directly to your parents (or your new spouse’s parents), you can mention those relatives then. Here’s what one couple said, “Mom, Dad, thank you for being such a great example to me of what a loving couple should be, and thank you for making sure I got to spend time with Grandma Ruth and feel the love she had for me.”
If you have chosen to include seven blessings, you can write one that mentions your relatives who have died. Here’s one that you might use: We rejoice in our heritage and honor our ancestors, our parents and grandparents, at this joyous occasion. We thank them for their example and their love.” You can name the parents and grandparents, if you like.
If you would prefer not to mention those who have died in the actual ceremony, but would still like to include them in your wedding, you could set up a small table or an easel with their pictures at the entrance to your wedding site or near when you might display your ketubah (if you’re using one). The picture is a lovely example from Gabe and Lauren’s recent wedding.
However you decide to include your loved ones who have died, the remembrance can be sweet and touching, and can help you feel closer to them at a special time.