Undepressing wedding memorial: bouquet charms!

Updated Mar 15 2021
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Photo by hystudio.com
My future mother-in-law wants me to do something at our wedding to honor the people who recently died in our family, one of them being her husband. And then she went on to mention that she would like us to honor her mother (who died over 20 years ago). AND THEN she said that I should also mention my two grandmothers, my uncle, and my cousin who all passed away. Um, is it me, or would that make for an INCREDIBLY depressing moment at a wedding?

Here's an easy solution that makes everyone happy: get some wedding photo charms to hang from your bouquet.

Corset, bouquet and photos of Dad and Mamaw
Photo by Heidi N Photography

You can put photos of all the deceased into the charms, and have them quietly but respectfully dangling from your bouquet for your entire wedding day. That way there's no need to harsh your guests' mellow by making a memorial announcement at the reception. Just make sure your photographer gets some shots of the bouquet. Then, you could even get a print of that photo framed special for your mother-in-law.

These little charms are super inexpensive — you can get them for about $5.

You can find more memorial ideas in our massive wedding memorial archive!

  1. *sniff*

    I didn't know what to do or how to get them into my wedding…..you just morbidly, but happily, made my day!

    • My grandfather passed away a little over a year ago and I have been missing him immensely throughout the planning of my wedding. I was just having this conversation with my fiance and mother this evening about it being "creepy" having our lost loved ones pictures somewhere at our wedding. This is a wonderful remedy to my dilemma. Thank you!!

  2. I was faced with the same dilemma, except my MIL wanted to put a bouquet on an empty chair (oh the horrors) for my FI's grandmother, which my mom was strongly against. This is a GREAT solution. The people that want to be happy are happy, and nobody needs to be the wiser.

  3. That is a GREAT idea! My fiancé's sister died a year ago. But my mom died 15 years ago. And I wanted to acknowledge both, but didn't know how. Thank you.

  4. this is a beautiful idea.

    FH and i are going to put three small black a white photos of my mom, my dad and FH's father to honor them. hopefully it will be enough that guests notice but descreet enough to not send them into mourning mode.

  5. my father passed away a few years back and by the time the wedding comes around it will be almost 5 years to the day.
    this is an excellent way to honour him! thanks so much.
    i might also have a "in loving memory" vase full of roses (my dad's fav flower).

  6. I love this idea. I have 3 people to honor – My grandmother on my mom's side, and my grandparents on my dad's side. They all did charity work, so in honor of that I'll be displaying pictures and a description of them, and inviting people to donate gloves and canned goods (our wedding is right before Thanksgiving.)

  7. That's a great idea! You could also have a small table at the reception that has family pictures including them on it.
    My FH's younger daughter and mothere (who has alzheimer's) can't be at our wedding. So we are having pictures of them on our altar. It's a little different, but pictures are powerful.
    The other thing you could do is make a general mention maybe at the reception with a nice slow dance of "all those who have passed on."

  8. We had a small table set up in our garden with pictures and little mementos of 3 grandparents and my husband's dad (all have passed away). We could both see the table when we walked down the aisle- it felt like a sweet way to include them on that day.

  9. That's a really beautiful and subtle idea. Etsy to the rescue again!

    For our wedding a couple of years ago, I wanted to acknowledge my parents (neither of whom are around any more) but without casting a shadow over the day. Our solution was to design our own invitations to include the wedding photos of both sets of parents:


    The trouble was, we had many guests ask us who the random people on our invites were!

  10. At least two of my cousins did the small memorial table display at their weddings, too. They used wedding pictures of the deceased grandparents and laid a single rose in front of a sign that said "in loving memory of *insert names here*". It was really quite sweet and touching. I want as many wedding photos of family members (living or dead) I can get my hands on as part of a display at my own wedding. I think it's a wonderful idea to remember special people who have passed on.

    • Love that someone else sees it the same way I do!! We are planning, as part of our decor, to include a photo wall with as many wedding photos as possible from family and friends–as well as pictures of my Sweetheart's Brothers who have passed. Like life, the sweet and the bitter together. We are hoping people just feel the love for those displayed!!

  11. Hi. We are just saying a quick prayer for departed loved ones at the begining of our service. Then during our ceremony I am dedicating a fun song to one of my best friends who passed away in December. It might bring people down a little to think about death, but it is very important that my friend is included in our wedding.

  12. My mother just passed away in Feb (on my dads birthday nonetheless) and then just recently my FH's grandfather passed away. We were going to leave an open chair in the front row and as I passed I was going to place one of their favorite flower on the chair.

    While I like my idea, this seems like alot more simple, I love it!

    • I am getting married in a month…and I have been going back and forth about how to honor my Dad, who passed 2 years ago. Missing him has been a huge part of the wedding planning…with many tears involved. I am leaving a chair for him, next to my mom, "reserved for big Z"… I feel like bringing attention to someone that has passed isn't morbid, it's the celebration of how important that life was.

  13. Bearing in mind the number of people you are supposed to be remembering the bouquet might sound like maracas.

    And if you do go for this option, I guess it means you don't toss the flowers (unless you want to get rid of granny's photo)

    • usually you have a second bouqet for the toss. I didn't know that until my florist asked if I wanted one for $15.

  14. My husband and I wanted to honor his father and my brother, who had both passed prior to our marriage. We got married on a cliff by the ocean, and we had our officiant announce a moment of silence for those loved ones who had passed. My husband and I both cut strings holding white balloons, and the balloons drifted out over the ocean. It was poingant, and meaningful, and then we resumed with the vows. (In retrospect, horrible for the environment, I know, but better than releasing Monarch butterflies in their non-native habitat, which was mom's idea).

  15. The photos are adorable, but could get unwieldy with the number of people MIL wants her to honor.

    How about, during the ceremony, just saying a classy and short, "And let's remember those who are no longer with us and who we wish were here?" Or something along those lines. That way, everyone's covered.

  16. what about a simple toast to absent friends? someone did that out of the blue during dinner at our wedding, and i loved it – it paid tribute both to my granddad (who died two months before the wedding – we also went to a pub right after the ceremony for him) and to people who couldn't make it for non-mortality-related reasons.

  17. I find the whole group wedding memorial thing a little strange, myself. But I did want a way to acknowledge my mom, though, without forcing everyone else to do the same. I'm planning on wearing a locket on a bracelet with a picture of us in it.

  18. *sniff, sniff*

    This makes me so happy. I always wanted my grandfather (who raised me + who has long passed) to walk me down the aisle. I love etsy!

  19. I am doing the photo thing, but we are also taking a moment in the ceremony to acknowledge absent friends.

    We've tried to word it so it isn't gruesome, and we hope it will just make people smile. If anyone wants to steal, please feel free.

    You may be wondering why we are gathered here
    On this beach in Massachusetts.
    It isn’t just to inconvenience everyone.

    Dawn and her family used to vacation on the Cape frequently.
    This beach was one of her mother's favourite places in the world.
    In 1996, when she died, Dawn and XXX
    Brought her ashes here and scattered them on the beach.

    Dawn and Paul hoped that in marrying here
    Her spirit could celebrate with us.

    There are of course others who cannot be with us today.
    Either because they could not travel the distance to join us
    like Dawn’s grandmother’s, X and Y
    or because they have passed on.

    These include Paul's grandparents,
    Simone and Kenneth Williams,
    And X and Yo,
    and Dawn’s grandfather’s,
    X andY.
    We know that they would have been delighted to be here,
    And wherever their spirits are today
    Whatever they have become
    Some small spark of creation glows a bit brighter
    because we are gathered together to celebrate
    continuation, family and friendship.

  20. Really good, subtle idea.

    On another note, the original question reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica tried to get her parents to cry by mentioning their long-dead dog and Nana.

  21. That is such a good idea. I'm already having charms coming off the bottom of my bouquet, but I wanted something non-depressing to honour my FH mother who passed some time ago but is still a rather raw nerve (obviously). This is so sweet.

  22. This is a great idea, Ariel!

    We had a jewish ceremony. After the first glass of wine (which is one of the first things) the cantor said something to the effect of "There are some people who could not be with us today, because they were unable to make the trip, or because their time in this life had passed. At this time Lara and Sam would like to welcome [names of people] to join them under the chuppah uniting them with the ones they love…" or somehting to that effect.
    It was a really non-creepy way of honoring people.

  23. Sara,

    Reading what you asked, what you wrote, Are you asking for "permision" to not have to have any mention or memorial of relatives that have passed on? Of course that is okay. Everyone has posted lovely and creative ways of remebering and honoring people but if you choose you can just hold whoever you like in your heart and not have an external symbol. This is a new tradition, a generation ago we didn't even think about this – even the offbeat brides of back then. Don't worry about what MIL thinks on this one.

  24. I love this idea so much. I may have to incorporate this into my bouquet.

    My grandmother passed away last year right before I started planning the wedding. She was a big part of my life and I wanted something in my wedding to memorialize her, but I didn't want to have something that would bring the whole celebration down. As long as I can remember, my grandmother had these huge blue hydrangea bushes in front of her house. I decided to include blue hydrangea in my bouquet just to have something that reminded me of Maw-Maw on my wedding day.

  25. I am a wedding photographer, and one couple (who was off-beat! Love it!) had photographs in frames, in the seats the person would occupy. So a picture of Grandpa was next to Grandma. Cousin, next to Aunt, and so forth. Very tasteful, all could see it, and it wasn't sorrowful.

  26. Hi Ariel,

    I was wondering if you could do a blog post one day about different kinds of ways to set up the ceremony…

    for example i love this idea of sitting in circle ~


    or perhaps you could have a celebrant do an opinion peice on the different kinds of ceremonies available for offbeat brides such as handfastings etc…

    bright blessings

  27. My dad passed away in February, and I'm getting married in 3 weeks. Honestly, while this idea (or a moment of silence or an empty chair or a table of photos) might work for some, it would make me cry like a baby.

    Instead, I am going to play some fun 50's song during the reception and ask everyone to dance their silliest dances in honor of my dad (who loved to dance, but was kind of wacky about it). I still think it will make me cry a bit, but it seems uplifting instead of somber.

  28. I saw that in a magazine awhile ago. They had them dangling from ribbon off the bouquet, so they hung lower then the stems, and it looked awesome. So awesome in fact, that that is what I'm doing to comemorate my mother and grand-father who died, and can't be there. But I'm not making a big sad to do about it, because I've mourned for them, and I don't want to mourn on my wedding day.

  29. when my cousin got married a couple of years ago, she had a rose laid on the altar for her twin sister who had passed away a few weeks after they were born. In the program they had a short note that explained what the rose was for. I thought it was a sweet and subtle tribute.

  30. We had about 3 people in our family die who we were all superclose to. At my cousin's wedding, we dedicated a sweet song to them at the reception. It was really joyous and fun and it didn't "harsh anybody's mellow".

  31. What we did (just a few days ago!) was set up a special little table that served as an altar to our dead relatives. We had a few photos and a few objects that were special to our grandparents. Our guests could look through what was set up any time they wanted; we got some questions about it but I think everyone appreciated it.

  32. We're planning to have my uncle (my mother's brother) come up and give my fiance a flower.

    The officiant will say, "On this day, we honor the memory of Amy's beloved mother by adding a specially chosen flower to Amy's bouquet."

    Then my fiance will slide the flower into my bouquet.

  33. We combined a memorial time, flowers and young people at the wedding. (I did not want a flower girl – a year of planning and the ceremony is left to the whims of a three year old?? – but we did want to include the 20+ kids at the ceremony.)
    We listed those who could not attend in the program – both the recently deceased and unable to travel. The musicians played 'I'll Remember You', my (deceased) grandparents' favorite song.
    Everyone under 18 years was invited to take a rose from a basket at the back of the room, walk down the aisle and place the rose on the front edge of the ceremony stage. We were surrounded by the beautiful flowers for the rest of the ceremony. Everyone was touched, but the kids and flowers were uplifting.

  34. At my best-friend's wedding (the church and then the reception) last fall there was a small table with photographs of her grandmother, the groom's father, and an uncle, all recently passed. No one called attention to it, but if you got close there was a candle that said something to the effect of "lost but not forgotten" or something like that. It was tasteful and meant something to those who needed it and wasn't obtrusive to others.

  35. I am getting married in November and want to light a memorial candle while a song played. I don't want it to be a real sad song but have no ideas yet. I would love to hear what you think. Any suggestions are welcomed.

  36. When my best friend got married, she placed one red rose in her bouquet of white roses in rememberance of her twin sister who had passed away.

  37. One of my friends who got married this summer had lost her mother about 5 years ago to cancer. Because her mom and her were so close, she had her sister light a candle to represent her presence in the beginning of the ceremony. They didn't say anything, but it was printed in the program what the candle symbolized. More traditional than many of us offbeat brides, but it is nice if you're only recognizing one person.

  38. wow, so many ideas and feelings. My father and FH's mother are both deceased so I will be wearing some of his mothers jewelry and he will wear my fathers roseary and hankercheif in his tux pocket. No one will know but us and the family, but we like it that way.

  39. My mom passed on when I was seven, and I have always wanted a way to honor her at my wedding. A friend of mine had a slideshow play in her wedding, of her and her fiance. Instead of the fiance and her…try pictures of the mother, and a song playing like "Wind Beneath My Wings" or etc. I love the pictures on the bouquet. 🙂

  40. Lots of ideas in this thread.

    One thing that we did is we honored our relatives who could not be there with us in a slideshow we did. We ended up using http://www.dvdphotographs.com for our wedding slideshow and had a section at beginning of the presentation that showed a few pictures of our grandparents. Just a thought if you're doing one.

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