Wedding Memorial: How to Honor Your Dearly Departed | The Top Knotters
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Wedding Memorial: How to Honor Your Dearly Departed

Wedding Memorial

How do we honor our dearly departed when they can no longer be with us on our wedding?  Having a wedding memorial or two is a heartfelt way of sharing this joyous occasion with them.

When news that Bongbong Marcos had walked Isabelle Daza down the aisle reached our Facebook and Instagram feeds, we all wondered why.  Then our collective hearts broke when we saw Bob Nicolas’ SDE, saw how the bride fought to keep her tears at bay.  Now we know: Belle’s dad had passed away just months before the wedding.  Her wedding memorial was having her dad’s closest friend give her away now that he couldn’t do so himself.

It’s every couple’s dream to have all their loved ones present during their big day.  After all, how many of us secretly wished that our own father-daughter dance could be just as epic as in the viral video above? But sometimes we have to say goodbye sooner than we’d like.  Here are five ways to help make up for that lost opportunity to have your dad dance to ‘N Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” with you.

Wedding Memorial: 5 Beautiful Ways to Honor Your Dearly Departed

1. Get a representative

“I had a client who made a slideshow of her father and had it shown while she and her brother did the supposedly father-daughter dance.  All the guests were teary-eyed and, being a parent myself, I also cried!”  —Frances Lloren Ibe, coordinator at All About Dream Events 

You can do as Belle did and ask somebody to sub for your parent during the walk down the aisle or the bride-FOB and groom-MOG dance.  Choose somebody who reminds you of your dearly departed, or who was especially close to him/her so that you could (almost) come close to the real thing.  Nobody can replace them in our hearts but we’re sure they’ll be glad to take part somehow.

wedding memorial

The tribute table at Mark and Jo’s wedding

2. Bring out the photos!

“On our wedding, my wife wore a locket with a photo of her parents as she walked down the aisle.  Then we set up a table at the entrance of our reception with framed pictures of my grandparents, her parents, and even a ninong who had unexpectedly passed away.  We owed a lot to them and wanted them to be there no matter what.” —Mark Eusebio, married in May 2015

Printing out photos or having a slideshow made is an easy and affordable way to pay tribute to your dearly departed on the wedding day itself.  It’s touching and allows your guests to get to know for a brief moment these people you held so dear in your heart—and still do.  You can also get creative by adding their photos in your bouquet or boutonniere!


Sew a patch close to your heart. Photo from Amber Hatley.

3. Wear a piece of them

Here is a more private way to honor your deceased loved ones.  No, we’re not talking ashes or hair strands, although some people have done that.  But you can sew a piece of fabric from their favorite clothes on the lining of your gown or tux.  Wear dad’s watch or mom’s pearls as your wedding memorial.  Then, at any moment during the ceremony when you feel like summoning them, you can whisper into the air and know they are present.


A toasting station in loving memory. Photo from Inked Weddings.

4. Light a candle, give a toast

“My client had a dedication candle made and they lit it during the reception. They use the same candles when they visit their deceased loved ones.”  — Summer Reyes-Carullo, project manager at VRC Creative Events Management  

Nothing beats having a solemn moment to honor these important people whose absence cannot go unmissed.  Your wedding memorial can involve the entire party, or you can even gather just their closest friends during a private moment and together drink your departed’s liquor of choice.  Make these moments beautifully poignant by thanking your deceased loved ones for helping shape who you are, for always leaving you the last piece of chicken, or for picking you up every time your car gets towed.


If Belle can do it, so can you! Photo by Pat Dy.

5. Move forward

“I had a wedding this year wherein the father died just days before.  The wake was still ongoing on the wedding day itself.  The couple wanted to postpone the wedding but the dad had told them to push through even if he passes away. So they did.”  — Lex Alinsod, photographer at Project LxD 

It is a Jewish tradition that if a funeral procession meets a wedding procession at a crossroads, the mourners will allow the revelers the right of way.  This is because they believe that life always takes precedence over death.  There is something that can be learned from this custom regardless of belief.  Weddings and the great love this sacrament represents is a symbol of hope.  And we all know we can never have too much of that.

There are many ways to honor your dearly departed loved ones.  No matter how you decide to do a wedding memorial, remember that the best way to make them happy is to allow your wedding and married life to be as full of joy and love and magic as possible.  Life becomes so much more precious because it doesn’t last forever–so savor it while you can.  And allow yourselves and your guests to celebrate this very fact on your special day.  Cheers!

Got any more ideas for wedding memorials?  Share them to fellow readers and brides- or grooms-to-be in the comments section below!

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