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Customs and Traditions

Honoring the Deceased

Hello! I am not entirely sure what is traditionally done when a parent is no longer with us. My fiance's dad died shortly before we met in 2013. He and fiance were really close, and I know he is still very missed. Is there something we should say or do during the ceremony or put something in the program? I want him to still have a presence at our wedding since he was such an important part of fiance's life. Just not sure what is typical or what other people have done. Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Honoring the Deceased

  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited January 2016
    It is not appropriate to draw attention to family losses at weddings.  You may print a brief memorial in your program.  Perhaps your Fi would like to privately carry some memento of his father in his pocket.  Obvious memorial signs, such as an empty chair, can be upsetting to family members who are there to celebrate, not to mourn.

    Bad example:  My cousin was married ten days after Dad's funeral, in the same church where my parents had been married.  My late mother, ever the drama queen, insisted on attending, but threw herself into the arms of nearby men, weeping and wailing about her "poor, dear husband".  Ugh.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • My FI lost his grandfather, whom was like a father to him as his dad was very absent growing up due to work. We are planning on having the seat next to his grandmother saved with a reserved sign. There will be several reserved seats for family that may not be able to make it (waiting on RSVPs) so an empty seat wouldn't draw too much attention.

    collegechicrodigsorange
  • We had a religious ceremony where there is a specific time for prayers for those who have passed away. Even if you're having a secular or non-denomination ceremony you can have a moment of silence or silent reflection for those that could not be there and mention their names. My cousin did this, and it was nice, subtle, and continued quickly on to the happy celebration.
    SP29OurWildKingdom
  • The first thing you need to do is make sure you and FI are on the same page.  You may want to incorporate his father into things, but you need to know what your FI's comfort level is, along with FMIL and other relatives.  If he wants some very apparent gesture, try asking him "will your mom be okay with this?  will you be able to stand up there and see the seat and not fall to pieces?"  I had to do this with FI, when we first talked about how to incorporate his late mom, he wanted to bring her urn and have it seated next to his dad..........we've come a long way...Try for the subtlety.  Is there something of his dad's he could wear? a watch,  cufflinks or something of that nature? He can always put a photo in his pocket.

    We chose to incorporate his mom's favorite flowers into the bouquets, are getting married on what would have been his parents' anniversary, and are dancing with each others' parents during the bridal party dance, which will be his parents' song.  We checked with his dad to see what he would be most comfortable with.

    We also lost my grandma a few months back.  My grandpa always carried handkerchiefs that she monogrammed for him.  Grandpa offered to let me carry one as my something borrowed.  Simple and intimate.

    Best of luck with making your decisions.
    collegechicOurWildKingdomJen4948DrillSergeantCat
  • Thank you so much everyone! This has been very helpful! I will definitely want to keep it subtle but still meaningful to FI and my FMIL. I'll talk to FI tonight about some of these ideas you've shared and see what his preference is.
  • CMGragain said:
    My FI lost his grandfather, whom was like a father to him as his dad was very absent growing up due to work. We are planning on having the seat next to his grandmother saved with a reserved sign. There will be several reserved seats for family that may not be able to make it (waiting on RSVPs) so an empty seat wouldn't draw too much attention.
    Make sure that Grandma is OK with this.  It makes many people uncomfortable.  Yes, the empty seat DOES draw attention to the loss.  If it was me, I wouldn't be happy with those plans.

    This was at the request of the Grandmother when FI brought up suggestions to honor Grandpa. I suggested a photo, or a charm on my bouquet or a charm in FIs pocket, but they felt that wasn't very honorable. This is the one thing FI and his family want, I'm not sure I want to veto it, and have it be an issue for them.

    OurWildKingdom
  • I personally have lost a lot of people in my family and they were all included in the slideshow we had.

    However, there were certain ones we wanted to note for sentimental sake. Our centerpieces were candles, so by the guest book we had a different type of candle {all flameless fyi} but we also put photos of immediate family we wanted to note. {my dad, both my grandfathers and H's grandfather}

    It was subtle and we didn't have a sign or anything, but people knew what it was for.

    For the record years ago I loved the idea of the empty seat for Diana during Kate and William's wedding, but remember whatever you do you have to see it.
    OurWildKingdom
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited January 2016
    I personally have lost a lot of people in my family and they were all included in the slideshow we had.

    However, there were certain ones we wanted to note for sentimental sake. Our centerpieces were candles, so by the guest book we had a different type of candle {all flameless fyi} but we also put photos of immediate family we wanted to note. {my dad, both my grandfathers and H's grandfather}

    It was subtle and we didn't have a sign or anything, but people knew what it was for.

    For the record years ago I loved the idea of the empty seat for Diana during Kate and William's wedding, but remember whatever you do you have to see it.
    Empty seats and candles call too much attention to the reason someone isn't there.  Even without them there, weddings are supposed to be happy occasions-not grief-provoking or macabre ones.  Like you said, someone has to see it, and you don't want them to break down in tears of grief or otherwise make them unhappy or uncomfortable.  

    And the British royal family isn't always the best example to follow when it comes to etiquette.

    About that slideshow-was it on a loop, or did you turn out the lights and show it as a scheduled event during your wedding?
    Knottie1452098987
  • I found a very pretty candle with a memorial poem that I am going to have set up at the reception with pictures surrounding it.  May not be subtle enough for some but my FI and I discussed the idea with our families and they are fine with it. 
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    katsandtatts
  • I was in a friend's wedding recently where her step-father, who she was really attached to, had passed that year. She had a photograph of him with his favorite flowers on a seat at the front (with her Mom's agreement). She also used his favorite flowers for her bouquet.

    Definitely check in with family! I wanted to honor my grandparents, but my Mom is uncomfortable with the idea of her father having a seat there with his photograph so we're not doing it.
  • justsie said:



    I was in a friend's wedding recently where her step-father, who she was really attached to, had passed that year. She had a photograph of him with his favorite flowers on a seat at the front (with her Mom's agreement). She also used his favorite flowers for her bouquet.

    Definitely check in with family! I wanted to honor my grandparents, but my Mom is uncomfortable with the idea of her father having a seat there with his photograph so we're not doing it.

    Flowers in her bouquet sound like a wonderful way to honor him, a picture in a chair makes it a memorial service. I've posted here before about a wedding I went to where I knew someone that died, seeing an empty chair reserved for them made me start crying right where I was. I left the event early because I wasn't ready for that to be shoved in my face. Don't do that to your guests. 

    Agreed. In her case it worked but I like just leaving it at the flowers. Reading the previous posts here made me realize in my attempt to remember the departed I risked being insensitive. They were lilies for her too, so it looked beautiful to boot.
    Knottie1452098987
  • I found mini picture frames with ribbon, I'm tieing them on my bouquet. My grandfather recently passed so its my way of having him still there with me. I think it is discreet enough.
    nerdwifeOurWildKingdomAnnaGetsMarried
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I personally have lost a lot of people in my family and they were all included in the slideshow we had.

    However, there were certain ones we wanted to note for sentimental sake. Our centerpieces were candles, so by the guest book we had a different type of candle {all flameless fyi} but we also put photos of immediate family we wanted to note. {my dad, both my grandfathers and H's grandfather}

    It was subtle and we didn't have a sign or anything, but people knew what it was for.

    For the record years ago I loved the idea of the empty seat for Diana during Kate and William's wedding, but remember whatever you do you have to see it.
    Empty seats and candles call too much attention to the reason someone isn't there.  Even without them there, weddings are supposed to be happy occasions-not grief-provoking or macabre ones.  Like you said, someone has to see it, and you don't want them to break down in tears of grief or otherwise make them unhappy or uncomfortable.  

    And the British royal family isn't always the best example to follow when it comes to etiquette.

    About that slideshow-was it on a loop, or did you turn out the lights and show it as a scheduled event during your wedding?
    There absolutely was not an empty seat saved for Princess Diana at Will and Kate's wedding!! The empty chair you may have noticed was for Harry to sit in when he wasn't standing at the alter for his best man duties.
    Sounds like different people heard different things about the empty chair.

    But nobody wants to burst into tears at a wedding-at least, not unless they're joyous tears.
    justsieCMGragain
  • I just ordered charms to make for myself and my cousins.  I'm going to put a postage stamp in them, the same stamp for all 5 of us, one with a chickadee on it.  This will be a reminder of our grandfather.  The others can do with it what they will, but I will be putting it on a bracelet to wear on my wedding.  I'm also getting my grandmother's earrings cleaned and will wear them on my wedding as well.  Done and done.
    SP29OurWildKingdom
  • Jen4948 said:
    I personally have lost a lot of people in my family and they were all included in the slideshow we had.

    However, there were certain ones we wanted to note for sentimental sake. Our centerpieces were candles, so by the guest book we had a different type of candle {all flameless fyi} but we also put photos of immediate family we wanted to note. {my dad, both my grandfathers and H's grandfather}

    It was subtle and we didn't have a sign or anything, but people knew what it was for.

    For the record years ago I loved the idea of the empty seat for Diana during Kate and William's wedding, but remember whatever you do you have to see it.
    Empty seats and candles call too much attention to the reason someone isn't there.  Even without them there, weddings are supposed to be happy occasions-not grief-provoking or macabre ones.  Like you said, someone has to see it, and you don't want them to break down in tears of grief or otherwise make them unhappy or uncomfortable.  

    And the British royal family isn't always the best example to follow when it comes to etiquette.

    About that slideshow-was it on a loop, or did you turn out the lights and show it as a scheduled event during your wedding?
    It was on loop. So if people wanted to watch, they could but it wasn't an event. People would make reference to photos in the slideshow - ex: my uncle made a speech and said something like "idk how you've gone from the little girl in the slideshow to a bride" - but it wasn't a focal point.

    Neither was the candles. It was very subtle actually, people only saw when they signed guest book.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Jen4948 said:
    I personally have lost a lot of people in my family and they were all included in the slideshow we had.

    However, there were certain ones we wanted to note for sentimental sake. Our centerpieces were candles, so by the guest book we had a different type of candle {all flameless fyi} but we also put photos of immediate family we wanted to note. {my dad, both my grandfathers and H's grandfather}

    It was subtle and we didn't have a sign or anything, but people knew what it was for.

    For the record years ago I loved the idea of the empty seat for Diana during Kate and William's wedding, but remember whatever you do you have to see it.
    Empty seats and candles call too much attention to the reason someone isn't there.  Even without them there, weddings are supposed to be happy occasions-not grief-provoking or macabre ones.  Like you said, someone has to see it, and you don't want them to break down in tears of grief or otherwise make them unhappy or uncomfortable.  

    And the British royal family isn't always the best example to follow when it comes to etiquette.

    About that slideshow-was it on a loop, or did you turn out the lights and show it as a scheduled event during your wedding?
    It was on loop. So if people wanted to watch, they could but it wasn't an event. People would make reference to photos in the slideshow - ex: my uncle made a speech and said something like "idk how you've gone from the little girl in the slideshow to a bride" - but it wasn't a focal point.

    Neither was the candles. It was very subtle actually, people only saw when they signed guest book.
    Good on the slideshow, but I wouldn't have put memorial candles near a guestbook that everyone would see when they signed the book.
    justsie
  • justkatnowjustkatnow member
    10 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited March 2016
    I lost my mom 3 years ago last month. I am planning on a memorial table separately, aside from all the other tables for her and my grandparents. I have some great photos of her, and poem that would be from her perspective. I am also planning leaving the first seat open at the ceremony for her with a in loving memory frame on her seat. 

    She was my best friend and meant the world to me. I can't imagine not honoring her.
    Daisypath Wedding tickers
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I lost my mom 3 years ago last month. I am planning on a memorial table separately, aside from all the other tables for her and my grandparents. I have some great photos of her, and poem that would be from her perspective. I am also planning leaving the first seat open at the ceremony for her with a in loving memory frame on her seat. 

    She was my best friend and meant the world to me. I can't imagine not honoring her.
    Wanting to honor your mother's memory is totally understandable, but this is overdoing it big-time.

    The poem idea sounds good, but I would not do the separate memorial table or "reserved seat."  Since your wedding is supposed to be a happy occasion, keep the focus on the living persons whom you are honoring by asking for their attendance.  All these "memorial" gestures are likely to evoke grief and loss - including your own.
    [Deleted User]
  • I have lost a number of family members over the years and I definitely want to honour them in some way. The people I have lost weren't my parents, but my grandfather on my dad's side passed of an illness before I was born and then my "step" grandfather from my dad's side passed a few years ago, also my grandmother from my mom's side passed of an illness when I was a young teen and my uncle from my mom's side passed unexpectedly a few months ago.

    Because these people are from both sides of my family its not as easy to do something like wearing a piece of jewellery, however we don't want to remind everyone about their passing with something like pictures (especially my uncle as it will be very upsetting to my mom and his sons).

    My plan is likely to find a nice flameless candle that we can leave on for the evening with a nice poem that is not too direct but certainly honours them sitting alongside it, likely on our guestbook table.
    Daisypath Wedding tickers
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