These are the saddest wedding items on Etsy: 12 wedding memorial ideas to make you sniffly

You can totally have a candlestick made out of the silhouette of a loved one... then light the candle at your wedding.
You can totally have a candlestick made out of the silhouette of a loved one… then light the candle at your wedding.

While we all want weddings to be all about joy and love, many of us know that wedding days can be colored by a tinge of sadness and grief for family, friends, and loved ones who have passed away and are unable to be with you on a day of celebration.

We've talked a lot about wedding memorial ideas over the years (including whether you're a jerk for not doing memorials at all — spoiler alert: no), but today I want to chop some onions at work and take a look at some of the saddest and most touching wedding memorial ideas I found on Etsy… including the custom silhouette candlestick shown above, which you could then light at your wedding. This entire post is maybe a little macabre, but grief is weird that way. Have your hankies at the ready.

Photo charm wedding memorials

Let's start the water-works gently here. Photo charms might be the most straightforward way to honor a loved one, and they can be worn all sorts of ways — on bouquets, as pendants, or shoe charms.

This set of 5 photo charms can be a great way to have bridesmaids honor a shared loved one who has passed.
This set of 5 photo charms can be a great way to have bridesmaids honor a beloved woman who you would have been standing up there with them.
These photo charms are a  bit next-level because they're printed on ceramic for a bit more permanence and heft.
These bouquet photo charms are a bit next-level because they're printed on ceramic for a bit more permanence and heft.
These memorial shoe charms are a set -- one photo, and one handwriting charm. Sniffle.
These memorial shoe charms are a set — one photo, and one handwriting charm. Sniffle. And in fact speaking of handwriting…

Handwriting memorials

While photos are a great way to honor a loved one, if you have an old letter or card, you can print their handwriting on something to carry with you on your wedding day. Stuff like..

If you're considering a unity candle in your ceremony, you could light the candle with a lighter engraved with your loved one's handwriting or signature. STOPPIT I'M GETTING WEEPY.
If you're considering a unity candle in your ceremony, you could light the candle with a lighter engraved with your loved one's handwriting or signature. STOPPIT I'M GETTING WEEPY.
Or what about wearing a bracelet with the signature of the person you've lost? Mom could be there holding your hand through the entire day. (UG HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET THROUGH WRITING THIS POST?!)
Or what about wearing a bracelet with the signature of the person you've lost? Mom could be right there holding your hand through the entire day. (UG HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET THROUGH WRITING THIS POST?!)
Or keep your loved one's signature close to your heart with a signature pendant.
Or keep your loved one's signature close to your heart with a signature pendant.

Other sniffle-worthy wedding memorial ideas

Look, I don't even call my father "daddy" and still this "Daddy is with you" stamped pendant is basically sticking a knife of the sads in my gut and twisting.
Look, I don't even call my father "daddy" and still this "Daddy is with you" stamped pendant is basically sticking a knife of the sads in my gut and twisting.

These wooden charms could be just right for a rustic wedding. One reads "Dad, You guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever" -- I AM CRYING NOW -- and the other has your wedding date.
These wooden charms could be just right for a rustic wedding. One reads "Dad, You guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever" — I AM CRYING NOW — and the other has your wedding date.
These handmade silver earrings can house cremated remains, fur, or hair. Ashes! Fur! MY TEARS!
These handmade silver earrings can house cremated remains, hair, or fur. Are you getting this? Ashes! Fur! MY TEARS!
Wait, speaking of fur, how about a tie bar pet memorial so your dead pooch can be with you on your wedding day? UG. The feels.
Wait, speaking of fur, how about a tie bar pet memorial so your dead pooch can be with you on your wedding day? The feels.

This tear-drop pendant is hand blown glass that includes the preserved ashes of your loved one. The ashes are encased in hot molten glass and sealed inside a memorial pendant, forever capturing their energy in a beautiful piece of cremation jewelry.
This tear-drop cremation pendant is hand blown glass that includes the preserved ashes of your loved one. The ashes are encased in hot molten glass and sealed inside the pendant.

…Great, and now I'm drowning in sad-snot. Joy and grief can make such a bittersweet sandwich. While I upholster my face in kleenex, will y'all tell me what you're thinking of doing for YOUR wedding day memorials?

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  1. Beautiful ideas. We had a little nook in the castle where we had a tree photo frame and a nautical memory candle (poppa loved the ocean).
    Our parents and grandmas loved it. I guess particularly because in the UK it's a relatively new wedding trend.

  2. Oy, I'm sitting at my desk trying not to cry at these!

    My gramma passed away in May. We are getting married in June and are debating about whether and if or what we should do.

    We are paying tribute to her in different ways: I'm actually finishing up a tribute tattoo for her next weekend, so that will be all good to go by wedding day. It's subtle in that probably only my mom will recognize it for what it is, not-so-subtle in that it's my entire shoulder. I sorta want to keep it a secret until wedding day, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. We're also planning on playing an Elvis medley during the anniversary dance. It will start with our favorite Elvis song and end with her favorite song, which she and my fiance were supposed to dance to. This one is also a little of both, as everybody knows she loved Elvis, but most people don't know that they were going to have a special dance. The winners of the dance should be my gramma's brother and his wife, so it's a little extra special and bittersweet.

    We kind of want to do something else, but not sure what. I've been thinking about getting one of those bouquet charms and putting a photo of my grandparents, but I'm REALLY digging the bracelet.

    Hmmm.

  3. For our memorial I did a board of all of our deceased loved ones photos. I covered the board in inspirational quotes about death from Harry Potter, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shakespeare. Then I labeled each photo with the persons name and how they're related to us and attached the photos to the board. We're going to place it on a large shelf in the foyer of our ceremony venue so that it's one of the first things people will see.

  4. I like a lot of these ideas and I'm definetly using something or the other to commemorate my late father, quite possibly a charm in my bouquet. Now there's only one thing that disappoints me every time I see inspiration posts for memorials: everything is so stereotypically feminine … my husband-elect is an orphan too and he would love to have some memorial token on his wedding day, but he's not wearing jewellery or a bouquet and we don't want a public display (like the empty chair or pictures) so if anyone happens to have some more gender-neutral ideas I'd love to know!

    • Great feedback! By my count, a third of these are gender neutral: candlestick, lighter, wooden charms (which would look great hanging from a boutonniere), and another one is specifically masculine (tie bar). That said, I'd love to hear reader ideas for even more non-bridal memorial ideas… Readers?

      • Ha! Working a charm into a boutonnière is a fabulous idea, I hadn't thought of that! So is the tie bar, which I totally mistook for a bracelet when I first saw the picture (sorry). Candlesticks and lighters won't work for us, but you're right, that's gender-neutral and a neat idea.

        Husband-elect might wear heirloom cufflinks that belonged to his late grandfather, that was the only idea we could come up with so far.

        • Yeah, lots of folks use charms on lapels, as you can see here:

          That said, you're totally NOT wrong that in general, lots of wedding memorials skew towards brides who've lost fathers. When I was trawling Etsy, I'd say half the stuff I saw was bride/father focused.

          • I suppose that's because so many wedding traditions are centred around patriarchal daddy/daughter stuff so the memorial tokens are meant to be a replacement of sorts (like the shoe charms so that "daddy can walk his little girl down the aisle"). Furthermore, men aren't supposed to have feelings let alone show them … 😉

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      • Oh, thanks a lot! I really like the coin, especially because it's so unobtrusive and can be hidden from plain sight while still being there. That's a big issue for us, because one family member is still very much grieving and we fear that they might have a breakdown should we choose a more overt memorial (this is why empty chairs, picture-frame displays, playing the deceased's favourite song, etc. are out of the question for us, but YMMV).

  5. As kind of a macabre person in generally I actually large period of time earlier this week looking at antique mourning jewelry (gosh do I love some Georgian mourning rings!) and I'd love to see it make more of a comeback- though maybe with less woven hair. It just so often feels like after the funeral you're made to keep your grief quiet. I don't necessarily want to go back to prescribed mourning periods and dress regulations but I wish there was something more public about it, wish that we shared in each others grief as a way to help build them back up.

    I lost some very important loved ones not too long ago (these deaths actually took wedding planning from "getting off the ground" to "dead halt"). I don't know if or how they'll be memorialized during the wedding but I thought this was an excellent list regardless. So far my favorite wedding memorial idea wasn't actually on this list, but still offbeat bride: The idea of leaving your bouquet at the grave of a loved one.

    1 agrees
  6. Love all of these! The picture and handwriting charms on the shoes got my eyes going. We did the subtle route at our wedding, since having anything in the ceremony would have made me a huge cry-fest (I was close to my late grandmother, and I had many times during the planning where I felt very sad she was not there). We had a foyer to the wedding, and I printed and framed our parents, grandparents, and one great grandparent wedding photos, and put them in vintage looking frames. The people in the photos who were at the wedding loved being included, and it was a quiet memorial for the ones who weren't.

  7. My husband had pictures of his two aunts that couldn't be at our wedding (one deceased and one in the hospital) in his breast pocket. Only one of two times I've seen him cry (the other when we put our dog down) was talking about how he wishes his aunt Kate could be alive to see the wedding.

  8. I just got the most beautiful photo charms for my bouquet (My Nana & Gran), and one for Fusbands button hole. (His Grandad who was like a Dad to him)
    He doesn't know I've got them though, so it will be a surprise for him on the day ?

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