Most of my fellow 30-something friends have lost a love one in their lifetime - a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a friend or even a sibling or parent. In my case, I've lost both parents and three grandparents. My husband lost his mother and sister and three grandparents. Planning our September 2009 wedding brought up a lot of old feelings of loss for both of us, so it was important for us to incorporate the memory of them into our wedding. We thought of incorporating a remembrance into the ceremony by lighting a candle or having a moment of silence. But we realized that one of the closest things on our guests minds would already be the absence of our parents and it would quickly turn a happy day into a sad one. Not to say that this wouldn't work for you, but we knew for us it would just be too hard.
Maybe you haven't lost a family member, but there may be people who cannot be at your wedding that you want to honor. For us it was grandparents who were not well enough to travel. We ended up figuring out a way to honor both people who had died and people who could not be there by creating a photo board with family photos of all of these people. I put Dave's family on the right, and mine on the left and they mixed in the middle. People loved looking at the photos and reminiscing about the moments they captured.
Another way we honored loved ones absent from our wedding was to display photos of our parents' and grandparents' weddings around the cake:
I also wore my grandmother's gold bracelet which my mom had worn at her wedding, which helped me feel close to her that day. Dave's grandmother called one of his uncle's cell phones and the phone was passed around between Dave and his aunts and uncles on that side of the family, effectively bringing the wedding to his grandmother.
One of the big surprises at our wedding was a quilt made by 20+ of our friends and family members. Dave's step-mother found a pillow his mom had quilted and made it into a square for the quilt. My uncle copied one of my mother's paintings onto fabric and made that into a square. My aunt found a pillowcase that had been my grandmother's with her monogram and that became another square. With these subtle remembrances, our wedding honored those who had died and those who could not be with us while keeping the day happy and fun for everyone.
What ideas do you have for honoring loved ones?