12 Ways to Honor Deceased Loved Ones at Your Wedding

Your wedding day is a celebration with loved ones, so it’s only natural to want to include those relatives who have passed away. Your inclusion of a deceased relative can be as subtle as a symbolic white rose in your bouquet or as public as a moment of silence at the ceremony, and we rounded up 12 more ways below. A tip: Check in with any close relatives who may be sensitive to the death, and then decide how you want to honor their presence in your life without turning the wedding into a memorial service.

Pin their photos to your bouquet.

Set up a memory table at the reception with photos of family and friends who have passed away.

From the album: A Coastal Garden Wedding in California

Lay a flower from your bouquet on an empty seat at the ceremony.

From the album: A Vintage Garden Wedding in Rochester, NY

Include a family recipe on the menu. 

From the album: A Sweet Indoor Wedding in New Orleans, LA

Add a flower arrangement in their honor on the altar, then include a note about it in the program. (Tip: Gladiolus, rosemary, pansies and statice are flowers that signify remembrance!)

From the album: A Bright Whimsical Wedding in New York, NY

Include their favorite flowers in your bouquet.

From the album: A Romantic Garden Wedding in Norfolk, VA

Have a moment of reflection at the beginning of the ceremony.

From the album: A Chic Romantic Outdoor Wedding in Charleston, SC

Light a candle for them during the ceremony.

From the album: A Classic Timeless Wedding in Tampa, FL

Offer a special favor for guests at your reception in your loved one’s memory and include a sign to explain the token. (“Take a cigar for Jim!”)
Select one of their favorite songs for the ceremony music or reception playlist.
Toast to them at the reception. 

From the album: A Vintage Chic Wedding in Pittsburgh, PA

In lieu of favors, make a donation to a charity that your loved one supported.

From the album: A Playful Modern Wedding in Los Angeles, CA

See More!

> Ask Carley: How to honor deceased relative at wedding?

> 21 guest books that make great keepsakes

> 10 ways to personalize your ceremony

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  • 02/28/14 at 11:04

    I think articles like this are so important – such good wedding inspiration! Thank you.

  • 03/05/14 at 05:58

    My fiancee and I both lost our mothers and will be doing a dove release in their memory. The suggestions listed in this article had me in tears! Beautiful ideas to remember loved ones!

  • Michelle Muro
    05/11/14 at 09:38

    We placed arrangements of roses on 2 chairs in the front row for my husbands parents.
    We also had Amazing Grace played by a friend who is a piper ( bagpipes).

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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