Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Honoring my dad

My dad passed away 3 years ago, it will be 4 years when I get married. I was planning on honoring him with a picture on my bouquet (like a lot of brides). I had also read about a bride who after walking down the aisle, before reaching her FI, stopped and took a flower from her bouquet and placed it on an empty seat next to her mom. This idea intrigued me. I've already decided that my mom will be walking me down the aisle.

What is your opinion about the flower on an empty seat? I am genuinely curious.

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Re: Honoring my dad

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
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    Around here that tends to get side-eyed as morbid and calling too much attention to the reason why a loved one is not physically present.  We don't advise it.  Also, very few people, if anyone, want to sit next to an empty seat with a flower, photo, or other "memorial," especially if they also mourn that person.

    The bouquet picture is a nice way to honor your dad's memory.  You can also give him a tribute in a program if you are going to use them, provide food, drink, decorations, or entertainment that he would have enjoyed, or say appropriate prayers if your ceremony is religious.

    [Deleted User]InLoveInQueens
  • Hi, I'm sorry to hear about your Dad. My Dad also passed away a few years ago, and it is still tough.

    It was brought up about leaving an empty chair for him at our ceremony. The flower thing wasn't mentioned, but the empty seat was. It honestly made me feel very uncomfortable, and made me feel like I would be sad, cry (not from happiness), or be remembering memories of my Dad instead of focusing on my wedding ceremony. I also think it may make some of my other guests feel sadness (my Mom for example).

    My suggestion is to not do it. I think the picture on your bouquet is a nice memory of your Dad. 

    I chose to have my Dad's wedding ring sewn very securely inside of my wedding dress, in a spot that only I know about. It is a personal thing of his that I have, and am really glad that I get to have that with me on our wedding day. It won't make me sad, or uncomfortable, but instead brings me an overwhelming sense of comfort and peace. I suggest you find something like this for yourself, so you can focus on you and your FI on your wedding day.

    If you can have a picture of your Dad on your bouquet, and it doesn't make you feel sad, then I think going for that option is far better than the empty chair.

    [Deleted User]julieanne912lc07
  • IMO, a flower on an empty seat is too public for a wedding.  You want your wedding to be a happy occasion and I think a super pointed or visible memorial has the potential to take away from that.  With heightened emotions, you (or your mom for that matter) might find such a memorial jarring in the moment. Or, family or friends who are unprepared for the memorial might find it upsetting. 

    OTOH, I find the idea of a picture in your bouquet to be sweet and the right balance between having a representation of your dad that you and your loved ones will know about and private enough to not  to upset others. 

    If you feel like you need to do more to honor and remember your dad, I'd think about other things you could do with little to no fanfare.  You could serve a drink he loved or an appetizer he enjoyed.  You could add his favorite song to your playlist or walk down the aisle to that song.  You could make (a layer of) your wedding cake his favorite flavor (or something like that - favorite pie, cookie, etc.).  Any of these, I think, would be subtle things that you and your family might recognize, but could also pass unnoticed by many.
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    [Deleted User]lc07
  • I just had a conversation about this with my aunt yesterday.  My dad has passed and she asked me what I was planning on doing.  She mentioned the empty chair thing as "kind of morbid".  Which it is.  I think doing anything that screams "Hey this person isn't here anymore!" is kind of depressing, and nobody should be sad/depressed at your wedding.

    For my dad, I don't have a lot of his stuff left as it's been 15 years, but I do have his hat, so I'm putting his hat on a coat stand off to the side.  Most people probably won't even know what it's for, and that's OK, but I know it's there and that's what matters.  
    Just wanted to say that your hat idea is so thoughtful, and I love it!!

    julieanne912kimmiinthemitten
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
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    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
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    I really like your hat idea, Julieanne. It's really sweet. 
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers


    Jen4948 said:

    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.

    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  

    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
  • Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    Eh not really.  Probably less than a dozen people attending even know what it is, and I ran it by all of them and they all thought it was a nice gesture, but agreed that pictures or an empty chair may not be.  
    Married 9.12.15
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    Pupatella
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I disagree. A coat stand isn't a per person sort of thing and I think it's a pretty far stretch to compare a coat stand with a random hat (to most of her guests) to an empty chair in the front row that is designated as empty on purpose with a rose. She's not putting the hat on a chair at a table. She's not putting the coat stand on the dance floor. Most people won't even notice the hat or the stand. Those that do won't automatically know the reason for it. Some people might hang their own coats on the stand - NBD. 
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    julieanne912Pupatellalevioosa
  • emmaaaemmaaa North Carolina mod
    Moderator 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I completely disagree with the bolded. A coat rack off to the side with a hat on it will not draw attention to it for anyone who doesn't know what it is. It is a perfectly acceptable, discreet, and very sweet way for her to honor her late father.

    I think posing with the hat in a photobooth is much more concerning than a hat on a rack.

    ShesSoColdPupatella
  • I also forgot to mention that both of my grandmothers have passed.  One, my mother's mother, was less than a year ago.  I am having lemon bars at my dessert table, those were her favorite dessert.  For my dad's mother, she passed about 20 years ago but was an integral part of my childhood.  I am taking a pair of her blue gem and pearl costume clip on earrings and converting them into hair pins to put in my hair.

    So yes, lots of little ways you can honor somebody who has passed without it being so blatant as using empty chairs or "memorial" tables.
    Married 9.12.15
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    Pupatella
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I disagree. A coat stand isn't a per person sort of thing and I think it's a pretty far stretch to compare a coat stand with a random hat (to most of her guests) to an empty chair in the front row that is designated as empty on purpose with a rose. She's not putting the hat on a chair at a table. She's not putting the coat stand on the dance floor. Most people won't even notice the hat or the stand. Those that do won't automatically know the reason for it. Some people might hang their own coats on the stand - NBD. 

    Whether that's NBD depends on how she feels about a hat stand dedicated for a memorial to her father being used for that purpose because no one knows that it was placed there for that purpose.

    But it might stand out, even off to the side, if no one else needs to hang up a hat or a coat.

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I also forgot to mention that both of my grandmothers have passed.  One, my mother's mother, was less than a year ago.  I am having lemon bars at my dessert table, those were her favorite dessert.  For my dad's mother, she passed about 20 years ago but was an integral part of my childhood.  I am taking a pair of her blue gem and pearl costume clip on earrings and converting them into hair pins to put in my hair.

    So yes, lots of little ways you can honor somebody who has passed without it being so blatant as using empty chairs or "memorial" tables.
    I love lemon bars.  I like the earrings idea too.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    emmaaa said:
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I completely disagree with the bolded. A coat rack off to the side with a hat on it will not draw attention to it for anyone who doesn't know what it is. It is a perfectly acceptable, discreet, and very sweet way for her to honor her late father.

    I think posing with the hat in a photobooth is much more concerning than a hat on a rack.
    Except that if there's a coat rack off to the side that's supposed to be used solely as a holder for a memorial hat, someone might mistake it for a coat rack that's available for others to use.  If she's okay with other people hanging up coats, hats, etc. on it, yeah, NBD, but if not, then I'd find some other way to memorialize her father with the hat.
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I disagree. A coat stand isn't a per person sort of thing and I think it's a pretty far stretch to compare a coat stand with a random hat (to most of her guests) to an empty chair in the front row that is designated as empty on purpose with a rose. She's not putting the hat on a chair at a table. She's not putting the coat stand on the dance floor. Most people won't even notice the hat or the stand. Those that do won't automatically know the reason for it. Some people might hang their own coats on the stand - NBD. 

    Whether that's NBD depends on how she feels about a hat stand dedicated for a memorial to her father being used for that purpose because no one knows that it was placed there for that purpose.

    But it might stand out, even off to the side, if no one else needs to hang up a hat or a coat.




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  • Jen4948 said:
    emmaaa said:
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I completely disagree with the bolded. A coat rack off to the side with a hat on it will not draw attention to it for anyone who doesn't know what it is. It is a perfectly acceptable, discreet, and very sweet way for her to honor her late father.

    I think posing with the hat in a photobooth is much more concerning than a hat on a rack.
    Except that if there's a coat rack off to the side that's supposed to be used solely as a holder for a memorial hat, someone might mistake it for a coat rack that's available for others to use.  If she's okay with other people hanging up coats, hats, etc. on it, yeah, NBD, but if not, then I'd find some other way to memorialize her father with the hat.
    If someone else hung their coat on it, I'd be fine with that.  
    Married 9.12.15
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    emmaaaInLoveInQueens
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Jen4948 said:
    emmaaa said:
    Jen4948 said:
    Jen4948 said:
    I like the hat idea too, although I think I'd have found a different way to incorporate it. For example, I might take a photo booth shot with it if I'm having a photo booth, or I might have my photographer take a special picture with it-if nobody's willing to actually wear it or if that doesn't go with your aesthetic.
    I think taking photo booth pictures with it disrespectful.  It's not a prop, and it's one of the only physical things of my dad I have left.  I don't want to wear it, nor do I want anybody else to wear it.... it was his hat that he wore all the time, so seeing someone else wear it wouldn't be a pleasant experience for me... in fact even the idea of makes me tear up a bit.  
    My apologies. I only mentioned the photo booth because I thought it would give you some private moments with the hat and your father's memory. We do sometimes suggest wearing or carrying items associated with the deceased by way of remembering them. My only concern with your idea of the hat rack is that it's a little like an empty seat with a flower or a photo on it.
    I completely disagree with the bolded. A coat rack off to the side with a hat on it will not draw attention to it for anyone who doesn't know what it is. It is a perfectly acceptable, discreet, and very sweet way for her to honor her late father.

    I think posing with the hat in a photobooth is much more concerning than a hat on a rack.
    Except that if there's a coat rack off to the side that's supposed to be used solely as a holder for a memorial hat, someone might mistake it for a coat rack that's available for others to use.  If she's okay with other people hanging up coats, hats, etc. on it, yeah, NBD, but if not, then I'd find some other way to memorialize her father with the hat.
    If someone else hung their coat on it, I'd be fine with that.  
    Ok.
  • Also wanted to add, I'm not looking to "memorialize" him.  Just remember him.  
    Married 9.12.15
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    Pupatellakimmiinthemittenhellohkb
  • The empty chair is hard. I couldn't. What I did was take a piece of his shirt and sew it into my dress. The guy doing alterations made it into a heart because he loved the idea. I also had a small thing by our guest book of family members who had passed away. They were good really pictures of them. It acknowledged them but kept at a sideline.

    The piece in my dress very few knew about. It was more for me.
  • I also forgot to mention that both of my grandmothers have passed.  One, my mother's mother, was less than a year ago.  I am having lemon bars at my dessert table, those were her favorite dessert.  For my dad's mother, she passed about 20 years ago but was an integral part of my childhood.  I am taking a pair of her blue gem and pearl costume clip on earrings and converting them into hair pins to put in my hair.

    So yes, lots of little ways you can honor somebody who has passed without it being so blatant as using empty chairs or "memorial" tables.
    I think the hat idea ( my Dad had a hat he always wore) and these ideas are lovely. Best wishes on your day.
    Pupatella
  • Also wanted to add, I'm not looking to "memorialize" him.  Just remember him.  
    You will remember your late father every day for the rest of your life.  Mine died unexpectedly, 49 years ago, when I was 15.
    I think it is best to keep your memorials private..  I had my grandmother place a flower from
    my bouquet on Dad's grave, privately, after the wedding.  No one else knew.
    I do not think that public memorials are appropriate at a wedding.
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    Pupatellajulieanne912Heffalump
  • CMGragain said:
    Also wanted to add, I'm not looking to "memorialize" him.  Just remember him.  
    You will remember your late father every day for the rest of your life.  Mine died unexpectedly, 49 years ago, when I was 15.
    I think it is best to keep your memorials private..  I had my grandmother place a flower from
    my bouquet on Dad's grave, privately, after the wedding.  No one else knew.
    I do not think that public memorials are appropriate at a wedding.
    Wow. I love the idea of placing a flower from your bouquet on your Dad's grave after your wedding. 

    I am Jewish, so we don't leave flowers on graves, but we do leave rocks...my Mom said she would carry my makeup touchup bag in her purse for the wedding day. I'm now thinking of putting a small rock in there, and then placing that on his headstone a month or two after the wedding. My Mom is aware that I'm using his wedding ring for the day, and so I don't think she'd be bothered by the rock idea, and may find it nice. And it's also private where no one else will know. Thank you for sharing what you did - this is amazing.

    CMGragain
  • I like the small personal touches. They mean a lot to the people involved. The problem with making a very public display like empty chairs, empty place settings, etc. is that it then becomes a "show" for lack of better word. People at the wedding then focus a lot more on those type of things. A wedding is a happy time full of emotion and for some yes sadness because the person who passed is not there to share in the joy.  My mother would be beyond uncomfortable to have an empty chair next to her. I don't know about others.  I like the picture in the bouquet thing too and some of the other things people have mentioned. I would stick to them.
  • Sorry to hear about your Dad.  Do whatever makes you feel like you are recognizing him on such a momentous day in your life.  Love the idea of a picture of him incorporated with your bouquet.  I don't think those sitting next to the flower would be weirded out because I'm assuming that the flower will be placed in the front row or reserved row with the rest of your close family who knew him and were close to him as well.
  • I absolutely love the idea of the hat on the coat rack.  One of the best I have ever heard!

    I think it could be tough for the person who has to sit next to that empty chair.  If I am a widow and I am sitting next to a chair representing my dead husband, that just slams it home even harder that he is not here on such a special occasion. 

    Another idea I have seen is to remember a dad (or grandfather) by using one of their ties as the ribbon on the bouquet.  Another private way to have a little bit of him with you.

    ChelleJaynePupatellaILoveBeachMusicCaitFins
  • @kmmssg

    I never thought about using one of his ties. His favorite tie (when we could get him to wear one) was a flamed one that my mom still has. I will think on this idea. Thank you so much.

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  • My father passed away when I was nine so I am planning on carrying one of his pocket watches with me at my wedding. I think it is really touching when the bride is able to incorporate something of their loved ones at the ceremony. I also don't like the idea of empty chairs though I don't find it morbid but I think it would be hard on the people sitting near the empty chair. However, I think the hat stand idea, or anything similar, is a particularly great idea because guests who know the significance can share in that memory but other guests will most likely not even notice. To me the difference is something like an empty chair highlights their absence while carrying something of theirs, to me at least, is an acknowledgement that they are still there with you.
    kmmssgPupatella
  • @kmmssg

    I never thought about using one of his ties. His favorite tie (when we could get him to wear one) was a flamed one that my mom still has. I will think on this idea. Thank you so much.



    You are most welcome!
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