November 1st, 2016 | Andrea R. Freeman
Weddings as we know signify a momentous transition in a couples life–celebrating the love that has grown between two people, and uniting two families that will forever share even more joy for years to come. Throughout the world there are numerous ways weddings are celebrated ranging from the traditional church ceremony to the destination wedding and all the in-betweens and outside different cultures. Planning a wedding can be as elaborate to as quiet and intimate as the couple wants. Besides the usual bookings of a DJ, photographer and florist, there is one other key element in putting the final pieces of a wedding together–honoring loved-ones who have passed away.
My husband and I were engaged in February 2011 and by that time all of our grandparents were no longer with us. My father’s father died when I was four years old, my father’s mother- before I was born, my mother’s mother, a month after our engagement and I have no memories of my mother’s father for he died when I was a baby. During our wedding planning we felt it was imperative to honor our grandparents in some way because we all would not be here if it wasn’t for them. We wanted to feel as if their presence was with us even if it wasn’t in physical form. As part of the package deal with our DJ, we were allotted five video montages that could be displayed on screens at the reception. We chose one of our video’s to be that of our grandparents. My husband Anthony and I dug up a beautiful collection of photos that revealed our favorite moments with each grandparent and we gave it all to our DJ for him to create his magic.
At the reception, our DJ ensured that he gathered everyone’s attention before the video started and explained to our guests the meaning behind the montage that they would soon view. The video started with my Grandma Marie singing, “Over The Rainbow.” She would always sing to me and her five other grandchildren and one of the main songs she would sing was this song from The Wizard of Oz. Grandma Marie was also known to sing in Italian at every wedding, so I felt it was beyond necessary to hear her voice once more through lyric in this way. After my grandmother’s singing part, the photo collages started while Judy Garland’s version of Over The Rainbow in the background played. Both of our families didn’t expect this special honor of our grandparents and it definitely brought happiness to everyone’s heart. What my husband and I did for our grandparents is just one of the eight ways you can pay tribute to anyone who has departed in your life at your wedding or perhaps at any other family occasion.
Let’s review some other creative ways:
I’ve been to a wedding where the bride and groom had a lovely table designated with old photos of their grandparents in vintage frames on top of themed table clothes with also photo albums. Another idea to garnish the table would be to lay out some pieces of memorabilia that belonged to the loved-one who passed away. You can also during your photo session with your photographer–perhaps old a framed picture of your loved one so that person(s) is part of your wedding album.
I’ve also attended a wedding where the bride and groom lit candles before saying a speech for the groom’s father at the reception. The table was located right near the dias where the bride and groom sat and there were beautiful flowers adorning the table. It was such a tranquil moment to behold. You can hold a candle ceremony at the church as well–along with saying a prayer as you light each candle.
If you know your departed loved-one’s favorite song, you can have it played at your wedding and invite everyone to the dance floor to celebrate this person’s life. It can be either a slow or fast song–the key is to have everyone dancing. Even if you don’t know that person’s favorite song, it can be either a song that reminds you of them, a song that resembles their life mantra, or of a time that you shared together. If you have a live band for your wedding, you can also have the singer perform a song of your choice that is representative of your departed loved one. Taking it a step further, if you can sing or someone in your family that can, or if someone knows how to play acoustic guitar, this would be another option as well. The acoustic guitar idea can just be the melody and everyone can be in the moment of its peaceful sound.
Either before dinner or somewhere in between, you can say a few words about the person who has departed –perhaps write a poem or read a poem that reminds you of that person. You can even announce a moment of silence as well.
As part of the dinner menu, consult with your wedding hall if they can allow outside food for your reception and in this way you can honor the culture or favorite meal your departed loved used to cook. If you can’t bring outside food in, you can see if the menu that the hall offers can tailor food choices that honor your loved-one’s memory.
With consultation from your florist or wedding venue, see if there is a way to arrange a nice setting for each table that displays a memory of your loved-one. The centerpieces can include any memorabilia that has most significance to you. You can also have on each table a book (almost like a guest book), that your guests can write their favorite memories of that person, so after the wedding, it’s a piece of family history you will have forever.
Something Borrowed/Something New:
Depending on whether it was a female that has passed, the bride can wear either that person’s wedding gown, necklace, bracelet, earrings, fashion pin, shoes, etc. For male that departed, perhaps the men in the bridal party can wear arm bands or a particular color tie that represents the departed loved-one and their cause in life. The men could wear engraved bracelets as well with the person’s name/date on it. Guests could even give as a gift something from the household of the departed loved-one that can be carried down from generation to generation.
Please know that you aren’t limited to these eight creative ways to celebrate someone’s life at a wedding . These options could spark new avenues for you to explore, and I encourage everyone to do so. The important thing to remember when planning such an honor for someone, is to do it straight from the heart, and from there you could never go wrong. If you would like more inspiration on how to recognize and maintain a connection with loved ones that have passed, my book Messages From My Grandparents…In Heaven, offers a source of healing and comfort.
I would like to close with an anonymous quote from my book:
“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
[Images From: Bunnie & Clyde Productions, Photography & Photography by Colleen Rose.]
About The Writer: Andrea R. Freeman is the author of “Messages From My Grandparents…In Heaven: How You Can Keep Contact With Yours,” a certified Angel Card Reader, Angelic Life Coach with clairvoyant and clairsentient intuitive abilities and a blogger of Aerobic Affirmations. Andrea’s spiritual knowledge includes metaphysical and Reiki studies.