How much of an asshole am I if I don’t do a memorial at my wedding?

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Zombie Bride Flowers
Thanks to Jennifer for uploading this image to our Flickr pool.
My momthulhu has been pressuring me to do a lot of things when it comes to my wedding. I'm usually able to agree or compromise, but she's telling me that I absolutely have to incorporate a memorial space at the wedding to honor the relatives who have passed away.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love and miss those guys, but I love and miss them so much that I reeeeally don't want to be constantly reminded that they're not here because they're dead.

Am I a total asshole if I don't do a memorial at my wedding? -Cathy

Offbeat Bride has an entire section devoted to wedding memorials — we're totally down with honoring departed loved ones at weddings. If that's what you feel like doing, then good for you! Rock those memorials and share the very-much-missed with everyone. But what if you don't want to include a wedding memorial?

Do you remember the post about planning a wedding as a father-less bride? The writer of that post, Kelsey, said something that really made me think differently about memorials…

I also knew my dad would have wanted the wedding day focus to be on the fact I was getting married to a man I was madly in love with, and not the fact that he wasn't able to be there. Dad wouldn't have wanted to steal the show. So I felt like keeping the focus on Ian and myself was actually my way of honoring and remembering my dad.

What if a reminder of all the people you love NOT being at your wedding would make you feel depressed instead of touched? Are you suffering from wedding memorial shame? Should you be?

In case you're looking for some more ideas for compromise action, let's talk about options…

Here are a lot of ways to place your wedding memorial front and center:

Here are ways to do memorials on the down-low:

Okay, now that those are out of the way…

Here are ways to not do a memorial at your wedding, but not feel like an asshole:

Just remember: Memorials are not a “must” at weddings. Besides oxygen, NOTHING is a must at weddings. (Yes, you'll totally be an asshole if you don't have oxygen at your wedding.)

Still feeling bad? Here's another readder who chose NOT to have a memorial at her wedding:

Here’s why we’re not doing a memorial at our wedding:

It will make us really sad.

My grandfather died about 25 years ago, and my uncle brought up his absence at my cousin’s wedding a few months ago. I was in tears and had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom.

This is the first wedding in my fiancé’s family that his grandmother won’t be at. I know we’re both already feeling her absence, and I know that his parents and his grandfather will be acutely aware that she’s not there, since his grandparents’ wedding anniversary is the day after our wedding.

No one has asked us about any memorial, which helps, but we still wouldn’t do one. But in your shoes, I’d challenge that person to put into words WHY they want you to have one. I’m guessing that your mom probably feels like leaving out the memorial means that you’re pretending those people aren’t absent. I would gently tell her, “Mom, I know that you’d like us to have a memorial. However, I already miss Grandpa very much, and the reminder of his absence on our wedding day will make me really sad. We will not be having a memorial corner, and this discussion is closed.”

And if she brings it up again: “Mom, my answer isn’t changing. Anyway, do you like these centerpieces? And what did you think of this week’s episode of Scandal?”

Comments on How much of an asshole am I if I don’t do a memorial at my wedding?

  1. I saw a couple include a little memorial note on their programs, so guests saw the memorial, but the couple didn’t really have to relive that. A lot of other couples put photos of their missing relatives on the guestbook table–I think it might be nice to do both living family members and those who have passed, so it’s a more positive note.

    But lemmie second the nothing but oxygen is a must advice. You don’t have to do it. Just tell your mom “they’re here with us in spirit, now should these pinwheels be green or blue?”

  2. Maybe water too? 😉 But I love the ‘only oxygen’ approach. I think it’s a good approach to life in general.

  3. I went with a brooch bouquet which had things in it for different people, so I carried them with me but it was something only some people knew about, to everyone else they were just part of the bouquet.

  4. I did two things at my wedding to honor my father. I had a locket tucked into my bouquet with pictures of both my parents (Mom was there but very ill; it was a way for them to walk me down the aisle). The other thing I did was for the “father/daughter” dance. I danced with my father’s brothers to Somewhere Out There, which Dad and I often sang. Most of the guests had no idea that it was a memorial song as we didn’t announce that it was in honor of anyone. The guests who knew got teary though.

  5. Our officiant is making a brief (like 1.5 sentences) reference to “those that could not be with us today” and we’re including the same sentence in our programs, but that’s it. And even then, it’s more of reference to family who is still very much alive but couldn’t make it for I’ve reason our another.

  6. 0% asshole if you don’t have a memorial!
    And, even if you have one, it doesn’t have to be all gloom and cheesy, like that “We know you would be here today if heaven wasn’t so far away” shit you see on Pintrest. We played BigBand Era music. My (dead for over five years…lived into their mid 80’s) grandparents both loved that era of music and I have very fond memories of them listening to it. My Hubby LOVES world history from the 1930’s-1940’s and was excited to play the iPad playlist too. We didn’t make a big deal of the WHY and it allowed our guests to enjoy the music without dreading the same wedding cheesiness that the WIC is so proud to shove down our throats.
    I can’t stress this enough: the more YOU the wedding day is, (not what you THINK it SHOULD be!!) the more you will enjoy it. And your guests will have a better time too! If YOU don’t want something that day, leave it out 🙂

  7. I feel this article might have slightly missed the point by telling Cathy how to do memorials, clearly she would rather have none, so the first answer should be ‘no you are not an asshole for not having a memorial, of any sort, at you wedding’ then advice on compromises. Anywho, its probably just semantics.

    I wonder why the person pressuring you wants a memorial, maybe by making *you* have a memorial, they are really saying *I* need a memoral, do they need some form of closure to be able to celebrate your day? Maybe they are just projecting their needs onto you, and actually a visit to the cemetary, or to your deceased loved ones favourite place, or just a cup of tea and a chat about old times before the wedding will help?

    • I think OBB was just trying to encompass all options, not try to convince the person to do a memorial. That’s pretty common here, I’ve noticed – that the “advice” questions are more for a jumping off point, not necessarily completely directed towards the OP. It’s more in case anyone else reading is wavering about how to approach a memorial (and for not a memorial, the answer would just be, “You don’t gotta!” and that would be a very short post.)

    • Absolutely what Kirsty said. Maybe it’s the other person needing a memorial. Maybe that person should carry a photo or locket or letter/poem made into a paper flower they wear. Maybe they need a visit to the cemetery. Maybe what they need is a discussion (or a good cry) with you. If you find you need a compromise because it is just that important to this family member, the suggestions of playing a song or style of song at the reception (or if it’s a church wedding, maybe their favorite hymn) are good.

  8. Here’s why we’re not doing a memorial at our wedding:

    It will make us really sad.

    My grandfather died about 25 years ago, and my uncle brought up his absence at my cousin’s wedding a few months ago. I was in tears and had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom.

    This is the first wedding in my fiancé’s family that his grandmother won’t be at. I know we’re both already feeling her absence, and I know that his parents and his grandfather will be acutely aware that she’s not there, since his grandparents’ wedding anniversary is the day after our wedding.

    No one has asked us about any memorial, which helps, but we still wouldn’t do one. But in your shoes, I’d challenge that person to put into words WHY they want you to have one. I’m guessing that your mom probably feels like leaving out the memorial means that you’re pretending those people aren’t absent. I would gently tell her, “Mom, I know that you’d like us to have a memorial. However, I already miss Grandpa very much, and the reminder of his absence on our wedding day will make me really sad. We will not be having a memorial corner, and this discussion is closed.”

    And if she brings it up again: “Mom, my answer isn’t changing. Anyway, do you like these centerpieces? And what did you think of this week’s episode of Scandal?”

  9. We did a very simple moment of silence. Everybody really seemed to appreciate the moment actually. Some of our guests used it as a time to breathe or just take a moment to stop. It was more of a moment where anybody could use the time to their liking. For me, it was a time to reflect on our day and just breath.

    But, I strongly believe it is your wedding and you should be able to have the final say. And no, that doesn’t make you an asshole

  10. At my parents wedding, during the signing of their marriage license, my two sisters and I sang a song written by our other sister before she passed. It was beautiful, but so so sad. Everyone cried, even people who didn’t know her, or who weren’t around when it all happened.
    For my wedding, I don’t want that. I don’t want a reminder that I’m missing someone so important. I’m having only two bridesmaids, because I wouldn’t feel right putting a friend in my sister’s ‘spot’, but I’m not going to make mention of the fact that she isn’t there. It’s still too raw, and I don’t feel guilty for that.
    Plus, my FH never met her, and neither did my friends in the city we live in, so it would only serve to upset my family, and they’ve been through enough already.

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