Let’s talk about wedding day memorials

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Photo by Heidi N Photography

It's Memorial Day here in the US, so we thought we'd take this time to talk one difficult reality of many folks' wedding days. Sometimes weddings can be a painful reminder of the absence of loved ones… but they can also be a beautiful opportunity to memorialize those family and friends who have passed away.

One Offbeat Bride added these little photo charms of her Dad and Mamaw to her bouquet. Or how Offbeat Bride reader Breanna Scott commented recently:

I'm cutting apart my bouquet and giving it to all of the vets at my wedding in honor of my dad who was a vet and passed in April of colon cancer.

For those of you who have lost someone you love, you have our sympathies… and our ideas about how you can memorialize your loved ones at your wedding.

Offbeat Bride reader kimberhill says, “We wanted to honour his dad who passed away several years ago without it being too overwhelming for guests. We found an Etsy seller who put a photo onto a charm and we then had a friend make the paper flower boutonniere and combined the 2 elements.”

You could honor your departed loved ones by saving them a seat at your ceremony and/or reception.


Set up an altar to display framed photos of your loved ones.

grandma's buttons
Photo by Becca Riedell

Offbeat Bride reader Lindyshoes' grandma was an avid seamstress, so the buttons looped around the wedding bouquet was Lindy's tribute to her grandma.

Create a secret letter memorial, like Tribesmaid Inthecorridors‘ very sweet little flower memorial for her grandmother.

This two-sided wedding memorial locket works great on a bouquet

Print photos of your lost loved ones for your memorial candles.

Walk down the aisle with a memorial bouquet that includes a photo of the person who would have escorted you.


This necklace from Etsy seller GreenGrassGifts has a piece of lace from a wedding dress embedded inside resin. You could wear a piece of your late mother's or grandmother's wedding dress around your neck. More memorial jewelry ideas over here.


I love this idea from Offbeat Bride Beth:

One of the most meaningful moments to me was the moment I showed my mother my bouquet. My father died when I was 14, but I still wanted to make sure he walked down the aisle with me, so I'd tied his signet ring into the middle of my bouquet. When mum saw it her face just lit up.


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No big deal, just crying over this wedding memorial candle

Light a candle (or several) in honor of those who can't be there. Like Jess B's sweet photo and candle altar she set up for her step dad who passed away five weeks before the wedding.

Photo by Beatrice Katcher and Michelle Awe

The trumpet on the chair memorial is perhaps the most tear-inducing. Ashley explains:

Four and a half years ago we lost our newborn son, a week after he was born… We named him Miles Davis, and about a year after he passed we found this sweet toy trumpet in a vintage shop. At the ceremony, we had a tiny chair with his trumpet on it. There was also a piano in the venue that we set up as a memorial for him, with his pictures, the cast of his feet, a baby blanket I had crocheted, and all the trumpets we have been collecting over the years. Being able to acknowledge him, and the gifts he'd given us, meant so much.


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Not quite seeing something that might work for you wedding? Check out our archive of wedding memorials.

So what ways are you, or have you, memorialized your loved ones on your wedding day?

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Comments on Let’s talk about wedding day memorials

  1. This is wonderful. I love the pictures attached to the bouquet and the secret letter. My fiance lost his brother just a little over 2 years ago, and we have been trying to find a way to honor him at our wedding without it bringing everyone down. These are wonderful ideas and I definitely will be using one of them to memorialize him 🙂

  2. My fiance lost his mother when he was 13 to brain cancer. Ever since we were together I’ve wanted to do something special for her, I feel her presence daily in his soul and very being. On a trip last year (months before we were engaged) to his family cabin where he grew up, he and his brother and father went through his mother’s hope chest to consolidate some items. He came home with what, to some, may have just seemed like junk; their best guess was that she owned this bracelet with the intention of someday fixing it, but what I got was a baggie of random beads and him asking if I would like to use it for any of my crafts. At first, I didn’t know what to do with these ordinary wooden brown and black items, but I knew I wanted them. Now, my plan is to use to them in my bouquet as a custom string-wrap for the stem, attached to a locket with her picture inside. He felt an empty seat would be too upsetting for his father (and stepmother), and he didn’t want to make too many waves of sadness when it’s supposed to be a happy day. I haven’t told him yet, it’s going to be a surprise, but I really want her there with me/us that day, and can only hope I have her blessing. <3

    • That sounds like a lovely idea. My mom also died of brain cancer when I was a teenager. My siblings and I struggle with keeping her memory alive, but it is important to us now that we are married and starting families. At our wedding last fall it was very important for me that she be remembered (there were flowers from her garden in my bouquet, I wore her wedding band as my something old, I had a picture of her and my grandfathers attached to my bouquet, their names were mentioned at the ceremony, and their pictures were on a memory table at the reception). It was also very important to me and my husband that my dad (and step-mum) and other family members be comfortable with how we were remembering my mom and other relatives on both sides. None of our spouses ever met our mother so it is a big job for us to keep her memory alive. We have very supportive spouses (and extended family) so that really helps. Both of my grandmothers passed away before I was born and as an adult I am sad that my parents didn’t talk about them more growing up. I learned a lot about both of them when my mom was sick and after she died but I wish it was a more regular thing. My cousins have done a great job teaching their kids about my mom (they were all born after she died but all of them know her name, can identify her in pictures, they visit her grave, some of them even talk to her), so when I have children I am going to follow their lead.

  3. My fiance’ just lost his grandmother unexpectedly exactly 2 months before our wedding date and she left behind a big box of jewelry that was to be left to my fiance’s mother. I was just asked to go through and pick out items that I may want and I found a beautiful blue topaz ring that I will wear on my right hand on the wedding day so it will be my “something blue and something old” and also up to this point I was waiting on my fiance’ to buy the “official wedding ring” and I also found a very unique gold, diamond and pearl ring in his grandmother’s jewelry box that his mother said I could have, and I will use that was my wedding ring now and when people ask about it, I can proudly say that it was his grandmothers 🙂 I would take something that has sentimental value over something brand new any day.

  4. It’s the start of my wedding week (this Thursday is The Day), and I lost both of my parents to cancer. I made a locket with each of their pictures on each side that I’ve attached to my paper flower bouquet. It’s so bittersweet- never thought both of my parents would miss my wedding; doesn’t seem fair, you know? These are all lovely ideas, and my love to all of you thinking about who isn’t sitting in those seats or walking with you down the aisle. I believe they’re definitely still there though. I hope these bring comfort!

  5. It is so great to see so many other brides also including their loved ones that have past in their weddings. We too are having photos of our past family at our wedding and our bagpiper (who is doing our walk into the reception) will also be playing Amazing Grace as we light candles for our loved ones. I know for some people that is too much of a downer on your big day but its just right for us.

    Love never dies

  6. These are lovely! My fiancé and I lost our infant daughter in December. Her name is Danilynn but we called her our Dandelion. We plan on handing all of our guests a dandelion when they arrive and before the ceremony dedicate a wish to her. I think it’s the best way for us to remember her, then she’ll still be our flower girl.

  7. I lost my grandma in 2000 and we were VERY close. I used to pick the dimes out of her change jar as a kid, and so she would save them for me. It was our thing. I plan on mixing dimes in with the petals from the flower girls.

  8. My daughter is getting married in 3 weeks. Her brother past away 10 years ago when she was 17 and he was 19. We want to remember him but also want this to be a very happy occasion for her and her groom, who we love. She is having a memory table but I think she is torn about what else to do. Any suggestions?

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