You want to remember your deceased loved ones on your wedding day — you just don't want to make your wedding feel like a funeral. And you can with these seven expert ideas on how to incorporate the memory of your loved one without dampening the joy of your big day.
Make a note in your ceremony program.
Inside your program is "a fitting spot to write a sincere message that everyone will read, while still keeping the ceremony itself very joyful," says Amy Kaneko, owner of Los Angeles-based Amy Kaneko Special Events.
Add an heirloom to your bouquet or dress.
Adorn your bouquet or its ribbons with a locket, photo pin, handkerchief or other small but sentimental trinket that once belonged to your loved one. "I myself pinned my grandmother's initialed handkerchief to the lining of my gown," says Erica Taylor, partner at Tinsel & Twine Event Design Studio in New York City.
Share a favorite pastime or memory.
"Seeing some of their favorite things will bring a smile to your face, but also gives your guests the opportunity to learn more about your loved one," says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Philadelphia-based Two Little Birds Planning. Incorporate loved ones' favorite candies into your favors, or go the extra mile with an activity that brings them to mind. "Feature a special toasting station with Grandpa's favorite bourbon and cigars," she suggests.
Display family photos.
"On our guestbook table, we created an installation of framed photos of all of our grandparents and both sets of parents pictured on their wedding days," says Taylor. "This is a great, joyous way to honor family members — both living and deceased."
Incorporate a special flower.
"Add a rosemary sprig to the boutonnieres or place setting because they remind you of summer days spend in Granny's greenhouse — rosemary also symbolizes remembrance — or include your grandmother's favorite flower in your bouquet," suggests Fisher.
Play a song.
Pick a tune that meant something to your loved one, or reminds you of him or her. One former groom honored his late mother by walking the processional to a Beatles song, says Kaneko.
Bake a loved one's favorite dessert.
Chuck a traditional cake in favor of serving your grandmother's famous chocolate chip cookies or peach cobbler. "We chose to serve guests my husband's Nana's 'famous' apple pie," says Taylor.
No matter what you choose to do, take this advice to heart: "Focus on the happy, special details they loved and would get a kick out of — not the fact that they're gone," says Taylor. "Instead, make sure they are actually very present in the day."